Frequently asked questions for businesses

A white feathered, higher-welfare breed chicken sitting on a wooden perch. Several other chickens are on the floor of the shed in the background.
Image credit – RSPCA UK: RSPCA Assured

Who has signed the Better Chicken Commitment in New Zealand?

The Better Chicken Commitment has been signed in New Zealand, so far, by Domino’s, SwoleFoods, My Food Bag, HelloFresh, The Coffee Club, Bird On A Wire, Columbus Coffee and Mexico Restaurant.

How do I sign up to the BCC?

You draft your proposed commitment, including the date for full implementation, and send it to us so we can ensure the wording fully meets the requirements of the BCC. We can provide example wording. Once agreed, the commitment is announced publicly by you. We will also publicise your BCC commitment.

Is there any charge to sign up for the BCC with Animals Aotearoa?

How do I reach the standards of the BCC?

Every business’ deadline and roadmap to change could look a little different. Your roadmap may include things such as:

  • A year-by-year gradual decrease in stocking density
  • A date for achieving natural light and other shed modifications
  • A timeline for your supplier to start building up stocks of slower growing breeds so there is enough supply available to meet your deadline

My chicken supply is SPCA Certified. Does that meet BCC standards?

SPCA NZ endorses the Australia-New Zealand BCC. The chicken brands under SPCA Certified will continue to work with SPCA on continuous, incremental welfare improvement. Food businesses signing the BCC provides increased demand for chicken producers to make these changes. 

What suppliers are certified to the BCC standards?

The BCC standards are internationally recognised and can be certified by any recognised auditor. Suppliers will need to work towards the standards of the BCC over the coming years and, as such, no suppliers in NZ are yet to meet the full BCC requirements. Your supplier will be independently audited and you can ask for the BCC standards to be part of their audit.

At a future date, we may be able to point you in the direction of suppliers that are working towards meeting the BCC standards.

Do I need to have all my chicken supply meeting the full BCC standards before I sign the commitment?

No. Your commitment will have a future deadline, that we will discuss with you. We want the deadline to be achievable and you will work with your supplier/s to create your personal roadmap for success.

The roadmap will set milestones your business works to implement each year as you continually improve conditions, in the lead up to reaching the full BCC standards for 100% of your supply, by your deadline.

I’ve been told by my supplier that slower-growing chicken breeds are not available in NZ. How do I proceed?

The industry spokesperson, Michael Brooks, said to Radio New Zealand in November 2021 that he believed hatcheries would bring in slower-growing breeds if they saw demand. The BCC is about creating this demand.

We are realistic in setting deadlines for the BCC that allow your supplier time to source RSPCA UK approved slower-growing breeds.

How does my business ensure our chicken meat comes from farms that are audited?

Chicken farms are routinely audited to ensure they are meeting the minimum animal welfare standards and complying with biosecurity regulations. Your supplier will be able to add the requirements of the BCC to their regular audits. If needed, we can provide your supplier with more guidance on auditing needed to comply with the BCC.

Are the components of the Better Chicken Commitment based in science?

Definitely. Each part of the BCCreflects the most recent published research in animal welfare science. A summary of the science behind the BCC is available here, including a comprehensive list of references.

Aren’t industry practices rooted in science as well?

The chicken industry makes decisions regarding profitability. The science on welfare outcomes for the chickens themselves has been a low priority to industry. This is why, up until now, it has been accepted by the chicken industry that millions of birds can’t even survive the six weeks to slaughter due to a range of severe health problems. 

Healthier breeds and better living conditions produce meat that your customers will choose, when it becomes available. 

What about halal slaughter?

When chickens are slaughtered to meet halal standards, (often for the export market), there are restrictions on the type of stunning. Halal usually requires that the chickens have the capacity to recover from the stun, so Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (gas) may not be acceptable. For this reason, the BCC provides the alternative of effective electrical stunning without live inversion.

As the latter is not yet commercially available, in the interim, a Halal Statement of Intent is available as an alternative version of the BCC for businesses to sign up to.

How does the Australia-New Zealand regional BCC differ from the European and North American/Canadian versions?

To allow food brands to find a date that works for them, the regional version doesn’t have a set deadline of 2026 (Europe) or 2024 (US/Canada) for full implementation. The specific deadline for full compliance with the BCC is agreed upon with each food business before they announce their BCC commitment publicly.

The Australia-NZ BCC allows for new breeds to be tested by the RSPCA UK and additional testing bodies validated by the Better Chicken Commitment, allowing more flexibility to undertake welfare testing of new breeds.

The Australia-New Zealand BCC includes a requirement for six hours of darkness, with four hours of it being continuous, in a 24-hour rhythm. This is already covered by laws in other regions but not in New Zealand.