On Sept. 9 and 10, global poultry breeding company Aviagen offered its very first virtual in-house training to give employees the opportunity to become certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO). The training emphasized the importance of good housing and environmental conditions, properly balanced diets, quality water and strong veterinary health programs, as well as the fundamentals of auditing. The session was kicked off with a corporate overview from Aviagen Vice President of Veterinary Services Dr. Eric Jensen, as well as a discussion on Aviagen’s commitment to welfare and its customers by Aviagen North America President Marc de Beer. A highlight of the online event was a guest appearance by renowned welfare consultant Temple Grandin, who shared her insight on the importance of the humane treatment of animals.

Road to PAACO welfare certification 

Following the training, a diverse group of over 65 professionals, including veterinarians, hatchery, production and quality assurance, are now on their path to PAACO welfare certification. Before becoming fully certified, participants will undergo a period of shadowing currently certified auditors on a variety of audits. Based on proof of the audits and feedback from the veteran auditors, they will be up for full certification. 

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“Upon achieving certification, these individuals will be able to conduct audits of our internal farms and hatcheries,” explained Sara Reichelt, Aviagen’s Grandparent Veterinarian and Assistant Animal 

According to Reichelt, apart from official biennial external audits, all Aviagen operations must pass routine internal audits. “We care about our birds, and auditing allows us to ensure compliance to our robust programs, which include the highest welfare standards. Aviagen employees are committed to continuous improvement, and having additional PAACO-certified staff will help us further strengthen our excellent welfare program,” added Reichelt. “The goal of this training is to help Aviagen employees become more comfortable with the what and why of animal welfare, while also achieving a certified auditor status. It is not only important for our teammates to practice good animal welfare, but also to understand it. This training will include presentations from welfare professionals from different fields, interactive welfare scenarios and virtual audits to reinforce what they’ve learned by putting it into practice.”