Livestock Farmers urged to abide by Animal welfare freedoms to ensure productivity

Livestock farmers in Rwanda are urged to comply with the five freedoms of animal welfare to ensure quality and enough production.

The call was recently made by Rwanda Animal Welfare Organization (RAWO) which is highly contributing to the promotion of chicken welfare and production in Rwanda.

The organization represented by Dr. Jean Claude Masengesho, the Executive Director was visiting Abusol Ltd, the giant poultry firm located in Bugesera district, Eastern Province.

RAWO calls farmers to have compliance with the international standards of animal welfare about Five (5) freedoms that every animal, including chickens, needs to have.

Dr. Jean Claude Masengesho in the middle during his visit at Abusol Ltd.

Those freedoms include Freedom from hunger and thirst by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain health and vigour; Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area; Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment; Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind; and Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

Highlighting the rationale of his visit to the poultry firm in Bugesera, Dr. Masengesho explained that the visit aims at supporting farmers in terms of capacity building towards promoting chickens’ welfare and production.

“We have selected 10 districts among the 30 districts of Rwanda where poultry farming has been developed, and Bugesera district is one of them. RAWO staff have visited Abusol Ltd. as a big referral poultry firm in Rwanda, with above 100,000 chickens, which is doing the best in terms of fulfilment of the Five Freedoms of Animals, implementation of biosecurity measures, and responsible use of antibiotics.” He said. The visit also aimed at looking at further ways of collaboration in advancing chickens’ welfare and production in Rwanda according to Dr. Masengesho.

“We recognize the innovative chicken farming management standards Abusol Ltd has pioneered and would like to draw lessons from those. Our plan is to create collaborative approach and work together to train and support other chicken farmers in Rwanda as well.” He added.

Dr. Masengesho emphasized that animal welfare contributes significantly to animal production.

“In this project, Rwanda Animal Welfare Organization is working closely with the Open Wing Alliance (OWA) as the funder of the project, which is a global coalition of animal protection organizations united in a common goal to end the abuse of chickens worldwide.” Said Dr. Masengesho.

Jean Claude Murekezi, Farm Manager at Abusol Ltd appreciated the visit by Rwanda Animal Welfare Organization at his farm, emphasizing that many Rwandan chicken farmers still need to be trained in chicken basic management and mentioning that the Visit of RAWO is an added asset to Abusol Ltd.

Murekezi noted that putting efforts together in mobilizing chicken farmers to abide by the Five Freedoms of Animals, promoting productivity and food safety, and preventing Antimicrobial resistance remains a critical issue in poultry farming. Other challenges vary from some chicken farmers who targets only high egg production by using confined battery cages for the purpose of saving housing space and land.

Murekezi, in red ti-shirt with the team from RAWO during the farm visit.

Murekezi said that few labourers are needed on chicken farms to make an automated feeding and drinking system possible. However, globally, according to Murekezi, battery cages are known as a form of cruelty farming where chickens are confined in small cages (living space per hen equal to a piece of A4 paper), which do not allow birds to move around freely and exercise their natural behaviour.

“The long-term effects of this system are dire. Production is affected with time due to the discomfort in the birds, which results in secondary veterinary complications, and it was highlighted that animal intensification, including chicken battery cages, affects public health due to excessive and irresponsible usage of antibiotics and contributes to climate change as well.” Murekezi said.

Bugesera district is among the top five (5) districts ranked for egg production in Rwanda due to effective investments in chicken farming.

ABOUT RAWO

The Rwanda Animal Welfare Organization (RAWO) is a non-Governmental organization based in Rwanda with the mission to advance animal welfare in Rwanda by promoting the well-being of humans and animals.

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