Hormone and antibiotic use in Australian chicken is widely misunderstood. The misconception that chickens are fed with added hormones and administered antibiotics systematically is unfounded and we are happy to set the record straight. That is -- that the use of hormones has been banned in Australia since 1973, with antibiotics only administered to sick birds under strict guidelines, in isolation, with veterinary supervision.
Read on for more information.
Are chickens administered growth hormones in Australia?
Australian chickens are not fed hormones, nor are they administered hormones in any other way. Their rapid growth occurs naturally due to improvements in selective breeding and optimal nutrition developed over the last 60 years or so. Independent tests and surveys confirm that Australian chicken meat is free of added hormones.
Are chickens genetically modified?
Chickens are not genetically engineered or modified. Improvements in their growth, feed conversion efficiency, tenderness and other characteristics are entirely due to traditional cross-breeding and selective breeding techniques.
Are chickens fed GM crops?
Soya bean meal, which provides an important source of protein and amino acids in the chicken diet, is not available in sufficient quantities in Australia and often has to be imported by Australian producers. Much of the world's soya bean production is genetically modified and in countries such as the US, traditional soya bean meal becomes mixed with genetically modified meal during processing, storage and distribution. However the major processors in Australia, have made a public commitment to use their best endeavours to source non-GM soya where possible.
What are the chickens fed?
Feed is made up of 85-90% grains, such as wheat, sorghum, barley, oats, lupins, soybean meal, canola and other oilseed meals and grain legumes. Hormones are not added to chicken feed or administered to commercial meat chickens or breeders in Australia. In fact, hormone supplementation has been banned internationally for forty years. The ban is supported by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation.
Animal Welfare and Farming Guidelines
All Broiler chickens grown, are in accordance with the latest Australian Meat Chicken Farming Guidelines, and comply with the latest edition of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals/Domestic Poultry, as well as the RSPCA. No growth hormones or steroids are given to chickens at any time.
Australian meat chickens are not kept in cages (as they often are in many overseas countries). Instead, they are raised in large sheds that are environmentally controlled and in which they are free to roam around.
Antibiotics are administered only when necessary to prevent or treat a clinical disease, and done so in isolation. If antibiotics are used they are approved for Poultry by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which are the regulatory authority governing conditions of the use of antibiotics in Australia.
The industry has adopted an antibiotics policy which sets out the responsible use of antibiotics that it advocates, and is strictly regulated and administered under government regulations, so that there is sufficient time for any residue to be eliminated. Given that no residues have been found in chicken meat, even people with allergies to certain antibiotics can consume properly cooked chicken meat in Australia with confidence.
For a helpful article published by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, Australia's leading poultry advisor see here. Shop our 100% Australian cage free and chlorine free chicken with no added hormones here.