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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Animal Welfare Act Standards for Birds Virtual Public Meeting Information

Listening Session Written Transcripts | Written Comments
Listening Session Questions


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has initiated a process to develop Animal Welfare Act standards for birds not bred for use in research to ensure their humane care and treatment. As a first step, APHIS’ Animal Care program hosted 3 virtual, public listening sessions and accepted comments via Regulations.gov to obtain input from stakeholders.


Animal Welfare Act—Definition of Animal

The Animal Welfare Act does not apply to farm animals. In 9 CFR Part 1, “Animal” is defined as “any live or dead dog, cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or any other warm-blooded animal, which is being used, or is intended for use for research, teaching, testing, experimentation, or exhibition purposes, or as a pet. This term excludes birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research; horses not used for research purposes; and other farm animals, such as, but not limited to, livestock or poultry used or intended for use as food or fiber, or livestock or poultry used or intended for use for improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, or production efficiency, or for improving the quality of food or fiber.

Animal Welfare Act—Definition of Exhibitor

Also in 9 CFR Part 1 an exhibitor is defined as “any person (public or private) exhibiting any animals, which were purchased in commerce or the intended distribution of which affects commerce, or will affect commerce, to the public for compensation, as determined by the Secretary. This term includes carnivals, circuses, animal acts, zoos, and educational exhibits, exhibiting such animals whether operated for profit or not. This term excludes retail pet stores, horse and dog races, an owner of a common, domesticated household pet who derives less than a substantial portion of income from a nonprimary source (as determined by the Secretary) for exhibiting an animal that exclusively resides at the residence of the pet owner, organizations sponsoring and all persons participating in State and country fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, field trials, coursing events, purebred dog and cat shows, and any other fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences, as may be determined by the Secretary.

Based on these definitions and the exclusions included within them, birds used as farm animals and those participating in purebred shows or similar fairs and exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences will not be regulated under the Animal Welfare Act.

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Listening Session Written Transcripts

APHIS hosted three public listening sessions to obtain feedback on Animal Welfare Act standards for birds, and the written transcript for each session is linked below.

Date Title Size
September 29, 2020 TRANSCRIPT: Standards for Birds Virtual Public Meeting 276 KB
October 7, 2020 TRANSCRIPT: Standards for Birds Public Listening Session 117 KB
October 15, 2020 TRANSCRIPT: Standards for Birds Public Listening Session 215 KB

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Written Comments

APHIS accepted written comments from September 29, 2020 through October 29, 2020. All written comments are available through the Regulations.gov website and can be viewed here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=APHIS-2020-0068-0001.

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Listening Session Questions

In order to develop regulations for birds that support both stakeholder needs and animal welfare, we are seeking input on the following questions during each of the listening sessions:

  1. Are there appropriate performance-based standards we could establish across a wide variety of species of birds?  Can we use classes of birds to set performance-based standards appropriate for the class?  If so, what might these classes look like?

  2. How do bird breeders avoid interfering with nesting and breeding or other biological activities of birds?   How can we ensure that housing, feeding, or inspection requirements do not interfere with these activities?

  3. Should we revise or add exemptions for certain dealers, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, and carriers and intermediate handlers of birds not bred for use in research?  If so, what should those exemptions be?  Please provide supporting data if possible.

  4. Are there thresholds beyond which an entity should not be required to be licensed?  For example, we are aware that there are many entities who breed small numbers of birds; if we should exempt those entities, what exemption criteria should we use?

  5. Are there certain species which should be exempt?

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