New Zealand welfare practices for exported day-old chicks

Air transportation is considered to be the most humane and expedient method of transportation of day-old chicks over long distances.

Producer companies undertake shipments with meticulous care, including careful attention to time management and preparation for each shipment. For instance, producer companies work collaboratively with airlines to meet or exceed the IATA (International Air Transport Association) standards for day-old chick transport.

Time management also includes advanced planning of the incubating and hatching of eggs to meet confirmed orders and flight departure times, planning for day-old chick services and delivery time to the airport, pre-shipment preparation of all export documentation, and the use of the most efficient air routes.

Throughout each trip, specialist producer company staff are on call 24/7 to support the safe and timely transit of day-old birds. The condition and environmental conditions of chicks are monitored throughout each phase of travel via en-route inspections (where possible during scheduled flight stops) and inspection upon delivery at the destination. Data received from temperature logging devices after each trip also enables any issues to be identified.

Chicks are carefully evaluated and receive individual services, e.g. vaccination, prior to their trip. Chicks are then placed in specially designed chick boxes that offer a secure, dry environment with stable footing and adequate room for optimal comfort during their journey from the hatchery to the farm of their final destination.

The chick boxes have customised ventilation holes to allow for good airflow and to ensure the thermal comfort of each chick. The chick delivery vehicles that transport the chick boxes from the hatchery to the airport are also specially designed and operated for the environmental comfort of the chicks.

Upon arrival at the airport, pallets of chick boxes are carefully configured to protect the chicks from temperature extremes and to optimise air flow within the pallets during the flight. As a final step for each shipment, the producer company reviews delivery feedback (arrival report, temperature charts, etc.) from the customer so that proactive measures can be taken for future shipments.

Producer companies maintain ongoing communication with airlines, IATA and other poultry associations to ensure transportation guidelines and animal care procedures are maintained. This includes regular collaboration between air cargo companies and airline staff to optimise holding, loading and transport conditions for day-old chicks.

Additionally, producer companies provide live cargo training for airline staff and handling crews, and third parties involved in the transportation of chicks to increase their awareness of the importance of good practices for the care and handling of live animals during transit.- November 2018.