Bird Health, Housing and Management Routines on Swedish Organic Broiler Chicken FarmsGoransson, Lina; Yngvesson, Jenny; Gunnarsson, Stefan
Knowledge of bird welfare and management on Swedish organic broiler farms is limited, since the number of farms began to increase only recently when two slower-growing hybrids became commercially available in Sweden. The aim of the study was to obtain information about chicken health and other welfare aspects, along with details of housing and management routines, in order to increase the knowledge and describe the current situation of these farms. Clinical examinations revealed no severe remarks, however minor to moderate plumage dirtiness, food pad dermatitis and hock burns were found in 47%, 21% and 13% of the birds, respectively. Higher body weights were significantly correlated to an increased prevalence of hock burns and dirty plumages. Although no severe walking impairments were observed, minor to moderate gait abnormalities were seen in almost two-thirds of all birds assessed. Gait in chickens assessed outdoors was significantly better than in those observed indoors. Flock body weight uniformity was low in all flocks. The study provides new knowledge of two slower-growing hybrids on Swedish organic farms. Further research should be focused on investigating other important aspects related to bird welfare, such as the low flock body weight uniformity and the high mortality rates observed.Slower-growing broilers on organic farms have replaced fast-growing hybrids to increase bird welfare. Due to limited knowledge of broiler welfare and management on organic farms in Sweden, the study aim was to gather information regarding health, housing and management routines, in order to describe the current situation on these. Farm visits performed in 2018 included 8 out of 12 established organic farms, on which either Rowan Ranger or HubbardJA57/HubbardJA87 were reared. Chickens in the observed flocks were 55 +/- 6 (44-62) days of age. Observations included farmer interviews, indoor environment assessments, clinical examinations and gait scoring. Clinical examinations revealed no severe remarks, however minor to moderate plumage dirtiness, food pad dermatitis and hock burns were found in 47%, 21% and 13% of the birds, respectively. Although no severe walking impairments were observed, minor to moderate gait abnormalities were seen in two-thirds of the birds. Gait in birds assessed outdoors was significantly better than in birds observed indoors. Body weight uniformity was low in all flocks. This study provides increased knowledge of certain chicken health and welfare aspects, housing and management on Swedish organic farms. Future research should further investigate important aspects related to bird welfare, such as the high mortality rates observed.
Keywordsslower-growing; welfare; foot pad dermatitis; hock burns; plumage; gait; body weight uniformity; mortality
2020, volume: 10, number: 11, article number: 2098
UKÄ Subject classification
Animal and Dairy Science
URI (permanent link to this page)