Processing welfare during Covid times

Emma Longley

FCE publishes again in Feed & Livestock.

In the latest edition of Feed & Livestock (March 2021 – Volume 14, number 4)  Michael discusses the issues of maintaining processing welfare (both human and poultry) during the current Covid pandemic.

The impact of the closure of the food service sector almost overnight on the ability of poultry producers to distribute their product has been well documented.  But there were also consequences for the industrys ability to staff itself and look after employee welfare.  And no where did this prove to be be more apparent than in processing plants.

Excellent Hygiene

Despite processing plants having excellent hygiene practices, the environment within them is ideal for the rapid multiplication of viruses.

  • Lower temperatures and very high or very low humidities
  • High volumes of metal surfaces where viruses thrive for longer
  • Workers often speak loudly over nosiey machinery increasing the spread of droplets

Socially distanced processing

For the staff implementing social distancing rules and providing the correct protective clothing and appropriate ventilation are key.

Bird welfare remains the priority

As at all other times maintaining bird welfare from catching to processing is essential:

  • Coordination between all departments involved must occur
  • Keep birds calm during catching
  • Implement an appropraite feed withdrawal programme
  • Only use trained personnel for catching and follow local legislation for number of birds per crate
  • Ensure transport and lairage provides adequate ventilation and protection from the elements
  • Consider the use of blue lighting to keep birds calm during lairage and in the hang-on area

Processing back to pre-Covid capacities

Many plants are now back to pre-Covid capacities even while adhering to strict Covid-guidelines, which is areal tribute to the industry.  What future impacts this may have on processing plants and how they are run is yet to be seen.

Michaels full article can be read in Feed & Livestock, Volume 14, number 4, page 37.


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