Broilers have it better in New Zealand
Research into the welfare of commercial broiler
chickens has found that birds in New Zealand have welfare standards equal or
superior to that of broilers kept elsewhere.
The mortality of birds was found to be at the lower end of industry levels
overseas. Leg cull mortality was about half that reported in two recent UK
studies and the proportion of birds with severe leg weakness was about one
quarter that reported in the UK
, Denmark and Sweden.
The aim of the research was to identify appropriate welfare indicators for
broilers and then apply them to quantify the welfare status of New Zealand
commercial broiler flocks. Research was carried
out on 36 New Zealand housed commercial broiler
farms in each season and within the context of the
typical management of the birds.
A range of measures were used to assess welfare including: the incidence
and causes of mortalities and culls; skin disorders of the feet, hocks and
breasts; gait score and the incidence of back scratches; birds dead on arrival
and rejects. The research is based on methods used in a University of Bristol
survey that has benchmarked
broiler welfare in the UK and is internationally credible.
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