What do birds prefer?
This philosophical question is a driver of the International Poultry Welfare Alliance (IPWA), a multi-stakeholder initiative that supports sustainable poultry production.
“We cannot compare apples to apples when it comes to poultry operations around the world, but what we can do with different operating types is to look at sustainability in a holistic manner,” said Kate Barger-Weathers, DVM, chair of the IPWA and director of Global Animal Welfare at Cobb-Vantress Inc.
The IPWA and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs (US-RSPE) updated attendees of the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit at the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) on Tuesday, January 28, in Atlanta, on their joint efforts to bring people together to address poultry welfare. The organizations are working together to further sustainability and welfare across the poultry and egg value chain.
The IPWA supports sustainable poultry production that is ethically, socially, scientifically and economically responsible. Its mission is to advance global poultry welfare standards by engaging diverse stakeholders in open dialogue, transparent communication and through the support of research.
The US-RSPE is an initiative developed to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
“The roundtable wants to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement with sustainability,” said Jack Scott, vice president of sustainability and responsible sourcing, Nestlé USA and Nestlé Purina Petcare. Scott is also on the board of directors for the US-RSPE. “When you say sustainability you’re talking about three things — environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.”
From left: Jack Scott, Dr. Kate Barger-Weathers and Ryan Bennett speak at the Animal Sustainability Summit Tuesday, January 28, at the International Production & Processing Expo. (Photo by Jim Winter)
The IPWA is committed to helping shape the global discussion on poultry welfare, largely by bringing people across the poultry and egg value chain together.
“People are on very different portions of the journey, very advanced to just starting,” Barger-Weathers said. “We’re bringing everyone together because we’re passionate about poultry welfare.”
Barger-Weathers repeated the IPWA’s effort is all about doing what’s best for the bird. The IPWA wants to increase the knowledge and understanding of animal welfare and inspire improvement via innovation, science and production systems, resulting in better outcomes for poultry and the poultry value chain.
The IPWA endeavors to make evidence- and science-based decisions, as well as provide truthful and accurate information to the value chain. Barger-Weathers said the IPWA “drew a line in the sand,” at its formation in 2017 that it wasn’t going to be a standard-setting.
“At this point, if all our members say X is not acceptable, we may look at that,” Barger-Weathers said. “We all have different paths to get from point A to point B, but if we can agree on some common thing … then we can have a minimum standard to do the right thing.”
Barger-Weathers said sustainability and welfare are not new topics, but the IPWA collaborating and taking a proactive approach to sustainability and animal welfare is new. The IPWA and US-RSPE continue to collaborate on sustainability and animal welfare.
The US-RSPE shared some of its key accomplishments so far, including making progress on creation of a sustainability framework, developing and implementing a communication strategy, and sustaining and growing the organization. The release of the sustainability framework is scheduled for fourth-quarter 2021.
Barger-Weathers is excited about the progress the IPWA and US-RSPE are making, with continuous efforts to improve poultry welfare and sustainability.
“What do birds prefer?” Barger-Weathers said. “It all comes down to what’s best for the bird.”