In recent years, animal welfare has become more important for consumers. Through this, several product labels show up in supermarkets with respect to better animal welfare. Generally, animal welfare labels for poultry meat products only take the welfare of broilers into account and not the welfare of grandparent and parent stock animals. The aim of this study is to explore a method to assess animal welfare in the entire broiler production chain
All relevant welfare problems of grandparent and parent stock animals and broilers were selected based on literature, and expert knowledge. In the case of animal welfare, the number of animals (incidence), the level of welfare (severity) and the time that animals are exposed to this level of welfare (duration) are important factors. It is difficult to assess the severity of animal welfare due to the high number of incomparable indicators and the difficulty to aggregate these indicators. The five freedoms are used in this study as a theoretical framework to determine the severity of welfare problems. These five freedoms are split into ten freedoms, to have more measurable components and to improve the assessment of animal welfare. Data was collected about the incidence, duration and severity of selected welfare problems. Calculations were done with these data to get welfare problem scores for each separate welfare problem, and for the total level of welfare of each step of the chain.
When animal welfare is expressed on chain level, a large part of all welfare problems is concentrated in the step of the broilers. However, expressed at the individual animal level, the welfare problems are two times more severe in grandparent and parent stock animals compared with broilers.
In the current developed method to assess animal welfare at the chain level, the ratios between the welfare problem scores are important. These ratios can be used to compare the level of animal welfare in a production chain, in different steps within a chain or in individual animals. This can be used in future research, policy making or the development of product labels. All to improve welfare in the broiler production chain.
Student: NR Vonk
Supervisor: dr ir EAM Bokkers