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Animal Welfare Approved and Permaculture--anyone doing both?

 
Edward Marshall
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Hi!

It's been a while since I checked in but I thought folks here would have interesting thoughts. I could have just as well posted this under pigs, cattle, goats, etc.

In short, I am a bit conflicted about the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) procedures and permaculture principles. I am interested in giving the highest ethical care to all of the animals on our farm...we also sell our pork and eggs for public consumption, so the option of just only doing this for ourselves is not open.

In short, if you look below, in order to qualify as AWA you have to agree to gas [(Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK)] your animals as the best means of killing them (you also can't dispose of rodents in any old way) . I found research that says the gas is safe and does not taint the meat.. As a practicing permie and permaculture teacher, I am also committed to trying to move towards practices that are sustainable or regenerative. I am not sure how sustainable gas is (not that I don't also use other things on the farm now and again that are not locally sources or use fossil fuels).

Anyone out there that is both AWA approved and adhering to permaculture principles? What are your thoughts, processes, procedures? With chickens, we currently prefer the cone method and cutting the arteries--but this is not the best practice according to AWA. I also get that a lot of their practices are aimed at changing large operations--we are micro micro compared to those.

I have found a link where a person has created an inexpensive set up according to AWA for slaughtering chickens. We take our pigs to a facility anyway--but the AWA approved ones are not near us, and AWA has guidelines about how far you can transport animals to slaughter. We aren't wild about the slaughterhouses near us, but the one with the best practices by AWA standards is four hours away.


Scroll down for more on chickens in particular, but these other sections are also relevant. Again, anyone out there a permie and AWA approved?

10.0 PROTECTION FROM PREDATORS AND CONTROL OF RATS AND MICE

10.0.1 Birds must be protected from predators.

10.0.2 If livestock guardian dogs are used their management must meet the Animal Welfare Approved guidelines for guardian or herding canine management.

10.0.2.1 If other guardian animals are used they must be suitable for guardian duties.
10.0.2.2 Guardian animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.

10.0.3 In the event that exclusion is unsuccessful and predation remains an issue, live trapping may be used. (Please contact Animal Welfare Approved for guidance).

10.0.4 Live traps must be checked twice daily.

10.0.5 All other forms of traps are prohibited.

10.0.6 All snares and leg hold traps are prohibited.

10.0.7 The use of poisons against predators is prohibited.

10.0.8 If live trapping is not possible or is not successful then as a last resort lethal control of specific animals may be carried out when these are causing an immediate threat to farm livestock.

10.0.9 If there is a continuous threat from predators that cannot be managed by live trapping advice must be sought from Animal Welfare Approved regarding a control program.

10.0.10 Lethal control/euthanasia of predators must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.

10.0.11 If a predatory animal has been euthanized to protect the birds on the farm, there must be records kept of the species in question, number of animals, and euthanasia method.

10.0.12 Glue boards for the control of rats and mice are prohibited.

10.0.13 Licensed rodenticides placed such that non-target species have no access to them may be used for the control of rats or mice.

10.0.14 Lethal control/euthanasia of live trapped rodents must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.


14.1 SLAUGHTER

14.1.1 On farm slaughter is recommended and Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK), in which chickens remain in their crates and their oxygen is slowly replaced by a mixture of argon and/or nitrogen and carbon dioxide, is the preferred slaughtering methods.

Note: On-farm mobile slaughter and CAK are not readily available. It is the goal of the Animal Welfare Approved program to make these processes more widely available and acceptable for USDA-approved programs.

Farms carrying out on-farm slaughter must have their slaughter process reviewed. Please refer to the online AWA Policy Manual section p2.6.

14.1.2 CAK and Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) using carbon dioxide may be used for chickens.

14.1.3 Not allocated.

14.1.4 When a slaughterhouse using CAK/CAS in a form that includes the use of anoxic gas is available, such a plant must have priority.

14.1.5 Slaughterhouses receiving birds in the Animal Welfare Approved program, or the process of slaughtering on-farm, must pass a review by the Animal Welfare Approvedprogram for pre-slaughter handling, stunning, and killing.

14.1.6 The person delivering the birds to slaughter should stay with them to ensure that they are slaughtered according to Animal Welfare Approved guidelines in 14.1.5.

14.1.7 Birds must be handled as little as possible up to the point of slaughter.

14.1.8 Birds must be unloaded and slaughtered within two hours of arrival at the slaughterhouse.

14.1.9 At the slaughter plant, birds must be unloaded in a dimly lit room.

14.1.10 Crates must be unloaded in an upright position and must be handled with care to ensure they are not tipped.

14.1.11 No person must cause or permit a chicken to sustain any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering.

14.1.12 Any person involved in the killing or slaughter process, including unloading and handling of the chickens, must demonstrate the knowledge and skill to perform those tasks humanely and efficiently.

14.1.13 Prior to stunning and slaughter chickens must be restrained in a manner that spares them any avoidable pain, suffering, agitation or injury.

14.1.14 Shackling of live birds is not permitted without prior written consent.

Note: Permission by the Animal Welfare Approved program must be renewed annually and will not be granted once a facility within the maximum travel distance that does not use shackles is approved.

14.1.15 Stunning must be followed immediately by killing (bleeding).

14.1.16 When one person is responsible for both operations, they must be carried out consecutively on one chicken before moving on to the next.

14.1.17 Killing birds without prior stunning is prohibited.

14.1.18 Stunning must render the birds immediately insentient to pain.

14.1.19 Cones may be used to restrain birds prior to stunning.

14.1.20 Birds must not leave the cone until dead.

It is the goal of the Animal Welfare Approved program to obtain stunning for poultry that does not involve shackling and hoisting of birds. Currently, the plants that use better methods are so rare in the U.S. that it is not possible for all Animal Welfare Approved farmers to access a plant that does not shackle and hoist. We are moving toward securing the least stressful methods of slaughter for all birds in the Animal Welfare Approved program as quickly as possible.


PIGS:

14.0 SLAUGHTER

14.0.1 On-farm slaughter is recommended.

14.0.2 Controlled Atmosphere Killing (CAK), in which animals remain in groups and their oxygen is slowly replaced by a mixture of argon and/or nitrogen and carbon dioxide is recommended for pigs.

Note: On-farm mobile slaughter and CAK are not readily available. It is the goal of the Animal Welfare Approved program to make these processes more widely available and acceptable for USDA-approved programs.

Farms carrying out on-farm slaughter must have their slaughter process reviewed. Please refer to the online AWA Policy Manual section p2.6.

14.0.3 Slaughterhouses receiving animals in the Animal Welfare Approved program, or the process of slaughtering on-farm, must pass a review by the Animal Welfare Approvedprogram for pre-slaughter handling, stunning, and killing.

14.0.4 The person delivering the animals to slaughter should stay with them to ensure that they are slaughtered according to Animal Welfare Approved guidelines in 14.0.3.

14.0.5 Downed animals must be euthanized in a manner that renders them immediately insensible to pain.

Note: Please contact Animal Welfare Approved if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.

14.0.6 Meat from downed animals must not be sold or carry the Animal Welfare Approved seal.



 
Adam Klaus
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I am all for animal welfare and treating our farm critters with compassion and kindness, but I cant get behind the idea of cute little farmstead gas chambers.
A well-funded group looking for a problem for their solution. Too many certifications these days...
Dont think farmers invented the gas chamber. Anyone remember who did?
 
Jay Green
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Yep..real humane. Gassing an animal is either smothering them or introducing chemicals into their blood stream via the lungs...either way I don't find it humane or particularly healthy for consumption afterwards.

I don't let any animal welfare regulations or anyone who touts them anywhere near my land or my farming practices. All animals are given a good life and a quick death here and that should be the only goals one should have. Fancy and supposedly more humane ways to kill livestock are just so much BS to give someone control over how we raise our own food.
 
Patrick McLendon
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I am a big fan of the AWA program and am working my farm towards certification for layers and meat birds. I have not studied the other standards applicable to any other animals outside of chickens so I leave my comments dedicated to chickens. A side note, I run a co-op farm store and did a survey of customers asking what factors lead them to buy one product over another. None of the producers that sell in our store have AWA certification but I listed it as, "Is AWA approval something that would like to see in our store?" More so than organic and local, people were interested in AWA. Could just be our customer base but it was a resounding response.

While gas stunning is the preferred method that they recommend I believe that electrical stunning will fit the bill for a small farm processor. I think in general that they understand the difference between a larger operation and a smaller one but they do have a standard and a certification's strength lies in everyone being treated in the same manner.

Under Section 3.3.5 it says "Using two-stage or non-aversive Controlled Atmosphere Killing(CAK) is strongly preferred." I think preferred is the key word and it is mentioned at the beginning of the slaughter section as well that it is preferred but not required. I found a good link out of the UK that gives a third party view of humane killing methods, its the Humane Slaughter Assc., http://www.hsa.org.uk/Information/Slaughter/Poultry%20slaughter.htm

One last thing, in a lot of the threads and for permies in general, I think utilizing meat to supplement a need in chickens is looked upon favorably but under AWA it wouldn't be allowed, "6.0.5 Feeding meat or animal by-products, including fishmeal is prohibited."
 
Patrick McLendon
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Jay Green
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Yes, it sounds like they think being electrocuted is comfortable and humane. Want to see what it looks like?



The bodily reactions happening to these stunned and highly shackled/restrained birds are identical to those struggles that take place in chickens as they go through their final death throes~from any killing method. There is absolutely no difference except the bird that gets their throat sliced is very calm, shows no reaction whatsoever until blood loss is sufficient to send fight or flight reflexes into play. The stunning shows them hitting that level of body stress immediately and with much more force as the electric current flows through their body.



You'd not find me electrocuting my good animals in this manner...I feel it's cruel and senseless and it only serves to make humans feel better about eating meat. It does absolutely nothing different for the animal except to put it through more stress.

I've had my whole lower abdomen cut open with a scalpel without the benefit of anesthesia and I can honestly tell you that it stings but isn't so painful that it made me jump or cry out. The sharpness of the blade just leaves a slight burning or stinging sensation when it severs the flesh.

I've also had patients who were electrocuted into unconsciousness and they experienced severe pain at the time of the electrocution.

As a nurse I am very familiar with nonverbal pain indicators.....I'll choose the cutting of the carotid any day for my good birds. They deserve the best I can give them.
 
John Polk
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While I agree that the commercial poultry industry has a lot of room for improvement, the homesteaders seem to be doing a pretty good job of it. Those of us raising a few meat birds for our tables are using techniques that probably mirror what farmers have been doing for 5,000 years.

 
David Hartley
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Sounds like most of AWA's guidelines are either inhumane or unnatural!

My birds get all the meat they can forage! And then some, by way of fish carcasses, etc. It IS their preferred feed! It is one of the reasons I do not like commercially available organic feed... Well; I don't care for industrially processed feed of any kind; but they get a little in the evening...


Secondly; I treat my livestock with love, compassion and respect; from beginning to end. They are processed by being placed into a "killing cone". I then wait until blood rushes to their head and naturally subdues them. With a razor sharp knife, I slit the side of their throat. The blood drain very quickly and cleanly in this manor.
 
Jay Green
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Ditto that. My hand is on their head and I am in contact with them. I assist in their dying with my own two hands, not with some metal restraining/shackling torture devise. They don't leave the place they were raised, they aren't chased or stuffed into crates and transported elsewhere and the whole process is done quietly, calmly and without undue stress on the bird. I cannot even imagine sending jolts of electric through my animals and having to watch that extreme convulsive nerve and muscle stress happening throughout their bodies...and THEN having to finally kill them. It's like killing them twice!
 
S Carreg
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I am by no means an expert, either on raising or killing chickens or on AWA standards, but... a blanket ban on any animal by-product or meat in their feed? They are carnivores! They are hunters! Surely that alone is a very serious cause for concern if the 'welfare' guidelines actually deprive them entirely of their natural diet?!
 
Kevin MacBearach
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This sounds like a load of bureaucratic crap to me. Best to stay away.
 
Edward Marshall
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We use the cone at present but will be doing things are a larger scale soon....but again, glad to hear from folks looking into it. The cone is not a preferred method by AWA standards. As I mentioned in my first post, they are really aiming what they do at people who raise food on a larger scale.

The stun method they recommend is not what the guy here is showing--was that from an AWA approved place? It would be good to know that if it was.

They recommend stun guns for this specifically.

I did get some good advice from them on better times of the day to slaughter, and I fairly sure the no meat is meant not to feed chicken back to chickens, which is a way that disease gets spread or to cross feed--which is a disease preventive measure. Our chickens have access to insects, worms, whatever meat they encounter on their own in the field...I can't see that being a problem.

Again, we are not only a homestead operation.

@Patrick....I hear you since by law I can't butcher any of my other animals myself and sell them anyway-- We are looking into AWA approved facilities for those. We were wayyyyy unhappy with the last facility where we slaughtered--and that was after investigating options.
 
Adam Klaus
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i am thinking it is not exactly 'animal welfare approved'....

for a dude to just keep beating a dead horse

 
Kelly Smith
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i just wanted to bump this thread up -
i dont believe you are required to gas any animals to be an animal welfare approved slaughterhouse - i see 3-4 other ways it can be done.

http://animalwelfareapproved.org/standards/slaughter-poultry/

http://animalwelfareapproved.org/standards/slaughter-redmeat/

we are an animal welfare approved farm and we are working with our local slaughterhouse to get them AWA approved.
I was told by my AWA farm inspector that 99% of the USDA certified shaughterhouses wouldnt have to change anything they do.

i see this is an older thread - and i agree some of the AWA standards can be a bit odd*. overall i think it is a great program though.



* - should have seen the inspectors face when he asked what i do with any live caught mice - "i feed them to my dog" - i said without remembering who i was talking to.....
 
Wes Hunter
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They forgot the part where everyone along the line, from hatchery staff to farm family to processors to end consumer, is supposed to express, in multiple languages in case the birds don't speak English, his or her undying gratitude to the chicken for giving its life to feed us lowly, insignificant, entirely unworthy humans.

Seriously, I wonder if the AWA folks have ever been on a real, working farm.
 
Kelly Smith
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all of the ways they require an animal to be slaughtered are USDA approved - AWA is not REQUIRING anyone to gas any animals.
 
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