Poultry farmers

This page gives you an overview of your responsibilities as a poultry farmer.

You are a poultry farmer if you produce live birds for meat (except ostriches and emus).

Key legislation for poultry farmers

If you are a poultry farmer, you must comply with the Animal Products Act 1999 and the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997.

You'll need to be familiar with both the Acts below, and their subordinate legislation (for example, Regulations, Specifications, Notices, and Standards).

  • The Animal Products Act 1999
  • Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997

You can find explanations of these Acts and lists of their subordinate legislation in the link below:

New Zealand food legislation

The purpose of this legislation is to help ensure you produce safe and suitable food.

What poultry farmers must do

As a poultry farmer, you must:

  • operate under a whole flock health scheme
  • only use approved medicines on your birds
  • make sure the feed you use meets the requirements of the ACVM Act
  • either provide supplier declarations with birds provided for slaughter, or participate in a processor's supplier approval programme
  • meet the requirements of the Human Consumption Specifications
  • comply with animal welfare requirements

You should follow the recommended minimum standards for production in the 'Broiler growing biosecurity manual'

See below for more details.

Whole flock health scheme (WFHS)

A whole flock health scheme is a written programme of effective health surveillance. It includes, where applicable, disease control or eradication and the management of agricultural chemicals, veterinary medicines, and feed and environment contaminants.

Your whole flock health scheme should record:

  • any medications or immunisations given to the flock or individual birds
  • feeding regimes
  • visits by veterinarians or 'ante-mortem examiners'
  • the results of other individual or flock diagnostic results that establish and verify the health status of the individual/flock
  • any microbiological results (including Salmonella and Campylobacter)
  • any other information that helps establish and verify the health status of your flock.

You can find an example of a whole flock health scheme (WFHS) in Appendix C of the generic RMP for slaughter and dressing of broilers. Note farmers do not need to have a risk management programme – just a WFHS.

Generic RMP for slaughter and dressing of broilers (644 KB PDF)

For a definition of an 'ante-mortem examiner' see the Notice below:

Animal Products (Specifications for the Ante-mortem And Postmortem Examination of Poultry Intended for Human or Animal Consumption) Notice 2005

For maximum permissible levels of residues (pesticides, antibiotics and contaminants), see the Notice below.

Animal Products (Contaminant Specifications) Notice 2008 (223 KB PDF)

Vaccinations & medicines – the ACVM Act

You must ensure any veterinary medicines you use, such as vaccines, antibiotics, anticoccidials and anthelmintics, comply with the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997 (the ACVM Act).

The ACVM Act controls the agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines used in association with animals and plants. It's a companion measure to other pieces of legislation, including the Animal Products Act.

Under the ACVM Act:

  • You must comply with conditions of registration relating to the use of each product. Read the labels carefully and follow the directions for use.
  • If the product is a restricted veterinary medicine, you must have a veterinary authorisation to use the product and you must follow the veterinarian's instructions.

You should report any adverse event to the product registrant (see product labels for contact details).

For more information, see the page below, from the ACVM section of this website:

Veterinary medicines

Poultry feed

Poultry feed is classed as an agricultural compound under the ACVM Act, and all agricultural compounds must be authorised.

Normally, poultry feed is authorised without registration, but you must still meet the following basic conditions:

  • You must comply with the minimum manufacturing requirements in accordance with a documented system.
  • You must ensure your poultry feed is fit for purpose.
  • You must not misrepresent your product as anything other than an animal nutritional product.

For full conditions for exemption, see in Schedule 4 of the ACVM regulations below:

Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2001 (External website)

For more information on poultry feed, see the page below, from the ACVM section of this website:

Petfood, stock feed and dietary supplement (oral nutritional compounds)

Supplier declarations

You must also supply the processing premises with a supplier declaration statement, unless you are part of a supplier guarantee programme. These systems provide evidence of the bird's health status and its suitability for processing.

For more details, see the human consumption specifications below.

Human Consumption Specifications

The Human Consumption Specifications set out the actions you must take to ensure your poultry is safe for people to eat. This includes how to make supplier declarations (see above).

See the Administration Consolidation (Version 3). Sections 40, 41, 70 and 71 are particularly relevant to the poultry industry. However, you'll need to be familiar with the entire document.

Animal Products (Specifications of Products Intended for Human Consumption Specification) Notice 2013

The Human Consumption Specifications are made under the Animal Products Act.

Broiler growing biosecurity manual

The 'Broiler growing biosecurity manual' is a guide that sets out recommended minimum standards for meat chicken production. Even though it is written for broiler farming it can also be used as a guide by growers of other poultry types. This helps ensure that birds are healthy, and safe to eat.

The manual covers aspects of broiler production, including shed construction, shed entry, water supply, vermin and wild bird control, harvest and cleanout, and visitor restrictions.

It is a joint publication from MPI Food Safety and the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ).

Look for the broiler growing biosecurity manual on the page below:

How to start a meat chicken production farm (External website)

Animal welfare

MPI Biosecurity administers animal welfare requirements.

Fully housed broilers must be kept, caught and transported in accordance with the Code of Welfare below.

Animal Welfare (Broiler Chickens: Fully Housed) Code of Welfare 2003 (Biosecurity website)

For general transport requirements, see the code below.

Animal Welfare (Transport within New Zealand) Code of Welfare 2011 (Biosecurity website)