The number of broiler chickens per square metre, called "stocking density", is determined by the birds’ target weight (and therefore size).
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry specifies the maximum number of chickens per square metre of shed floor space permitted relative to the weight of the bird and type of shed.
All of our farms stock less chickens per square metre than the Welfare Standards and Guidelines maximum allowance in compliance with the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standard.
The growth rate of broilers (meat chickens) occurs naturally due to selective breeding, optimal nutrition, management and husbandry.
Selective breeding is the selection of only the fittest, most efficient and strongest birds to produce the next generation. Broilers have been selectively bred over the past 60 years for growth rate, health, disease resistance and to be highly efficient at transforming feed into meat, which is why they reach their optimal market weight and quality much more quickly than their ancestors.
Broilers are typically 31 to 50 days old at their market weight. We (Ingham’s) use genetic breeds that have been intentionally selected for improved leg strength and we measure gait scores on farms to monitor this.
No we do not. Broiler chickens are kept in climate-controlled poultry sheds to protect them against hot summers, cold winters, predators and disease. In these poultry sheds they can move around and have free access to food and water through automatic feed systems and water lines.
The chickens we produce are grown on farms audited by the RSPCA against the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standard for Meat Chickens, which requires high standards for animal welfare including requirements for the health, feed, environment, handling and processing of the birds, and staff training.
Part of this process includes working closely with our farming and nutrition teams to ensure our birds are provided with feed developed to provide optimum nutrition to ensure they are healthy and grow at an appropriate weight for their age. Like the rest of the industry, we use chicken breeds that are specifically suited to meat production.
All of our meat chicken farms and processing sites are audited regularly both internally and externally by the RSPCA to ensure the welfare of our chickens meets our high standards.
To read more about RSPCA approved farming visit https://rspcaapproved.org.au/
Ingham's does not permit the use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes nor any antibiotics currently used in human health for prophylactic purposes. Ingham’s also restricts the use of antibiotics deemed by the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on antimicrobial resistance (ASTAG) rated to be highly important, or those deemed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be critically important for human medicine.
Antibiotics will only be used as a treatment where no other viable treatment is available and to not do so would compromise the welfare of the birds. In the event antibiotics are prescribed, their use is directed by one of our company veterinarians.
You can read our Antibiotic Stewardship Policy here - https://inghams.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/FQM-2.4.1-POL-Antibiotic-Stewardship-Policy-2.1-20220324.pdf
As with all chicken meat across Australia, Ingham's chicken contains no added hormones. Hormones are not approved for use in poultry meat production in Australia, and have not been used since the 1960s. At Ingham’s we use the latest genetics, as well as optimal nutrition, veterinary care, housing, and husbandry to grow healthier chickens to their optimal market weight. Ingham’s Animal Welfare Programs at a minimum meet and regularly exceed regulatory standards and guidelines across all aspects of bird management. In addition to the Australian poultry industry regulation, all Ingham’s Australian broiler (chickens bred and raised specifically for meat) farms are accredited by the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme.
This accreditation requires extensive external
audits to demonstrate compliance to the standards, which are conducted at least twice annually on each farm.
For more information you can read more about our animal welfare policy here: https://inghams.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/FQM-4.0-POL-Animal-Welfare-Policy-v1.1-20220324.pdf