Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 404884
Title Major welfare issues in broiler breeders
Author(s) Jong, I.C. de; Guemene, D.
Source Worlds Poultry Science Journal 67 (2011)1. - ISSN 0043-9339 - p. 73 - 82.
Department(s) LR - Backoffice
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) feather pecking behavior - male domestic-fowl - laying hens - feed-restriction - food restriction - environmental enrichment - divergent selection - mating-behavior - sexual-behavior - farm-animals
Abstract Under current practices, broiler parent stock (broiler breeders) encounter several welfare problems, such as feed restriction and injury during mating. Intensive selection for production traits, especially growth rate, is associated with increased nutritious requirement and thus feed consumption, but also reproductive dysfunctions and decreased sexual activity in broiler breeders. A resulting serious welfare problem is the subsequent severe feed restriction which is applied during rearing, in order to prevent health problems and to achieve better egg production. This severe feed restriction has negative effects on bird welfare as it causes chronic stress resulting from hunger. Recent research has focused on management practices to alleviate the negative effect of this feed restriction. Using both a more fibrous feed and an appetite suppressant seems most successful. There are welfare concerns involved in the mating of broiler breeders. In many countries mutilations (beak trimming, despurring and toe clipping) are carried out in male broiler breeders as a standard procedure to prevent excessive damage to the hens during mating. It has been reported that broiler breeder males show low libido but, at the same time, may be aggressive and show rough behaviour during mating, which can cause severe injuries to the hens, although some injuries may be caused by over-mating hens. Current studies aim to develop management practices to reduce hen injury due to over-mating and improve the sexual behaviour in both males and females. In the last part of the review, an examination of how breeding companies are taking welfare into consideration in their commercial selection scheme is made. In practice, although for example reduced mortality and some health criteria are included in selection programs and some alternative breeds as used, other welfare issues remain, such as feed restriction during rearing.
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