Broiler welfare trade-off: A semi-quantitative welfare assessment for optimised welfare improvement based on an expert survey

Autoři: Marc B. M. Bracke aff001;  Paul Koene aff001;  Inma Estevez aff002;  Andy Butterworth aff004;  Ingrid C. de Jong aff001
Působiště autorů: Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands aff001;  Neiker-Tecnalia Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain aff002;  Ikerbasque, Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao, Spain aff003;  School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, England, United Kingdom aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222955


In order to support decision making on how to most effectively improve broiler welfare an innovative expert survey was conducted based on principles derived from semantic modelling. Twenty-seven experts, mainly broiler welfare scientists (n = 20; and 7 veterinarians), responded (response rate 38%) by giving welfare scores (GWS, scale 0–10) to 14 benchmarking housing systems (HSs), and explaining these overall scores by selecting, weighing and scoring main welfare parameters, including both input and output measures. Data exploration followed by REML (Linear Mixed Model) and ALM (Automatic Linear Modelling) analyses revealed 6 clusters of HSs, sorted from high to low welfare, i.e. mean GWS (with superscripts indicating significant differences): 1. (semi-natural backyard) Flock (8.8a); 2. Nature (7.7ab), Label Rouge II (7.4ab), Free range EU (7.2ab), Better Life (7.2ab); 3. Organic EU (7.0bc), Freedom Food (6.2bc); 4. Organic US (5.8bcd), Concepts NL (5.6abcdef), GAP 2 (4.9bcd); 5. Conventional EU (3.7de), Conventional US (2.9ef), Modern cage (2.9abcdef); 6. Battery cage (1.3f). Mean weighting factors (WF, scale 0–10) of frequently (n> = 15) scored parameters were: Lameness (8.8), Health status (8.6), Litter (8.3), Density (8.2), Air quality (8.1), Breed (8.0), Enrichment (7.0) and Outdoor (6.6). These did not differ significantly, and did not have much added value in explaining GWS. Effects of Role (Scientist/Vet), Gender (M/F) and Region (EU/non-EU) did not significantly affect GWS or WF, except that women provided higher WF than men (7.2 vs 6.4, p<0.001). The contribution of welfare components to overall welfare has been quantified in two ways: a) using the beta-coefficients of statistical regression (ALM) analyses, and b) using a semantic-modelling type (weighted average) calculation of overall scores (CalcWS) from parameter level scores (PLS) and WF. GWS and CalcWS were highly correlated (R = ~0.85). CalcWS identified Lameness, Health status, Density, Breed, Air quality and Litter as main parameters contributing to welfare. ALM showed that the main parameters which significantly explained the variance in GWS based on all PLS, were the output parameter Health status (with a beta-coefficient of 0.38), and the input parameters (stocking) Density (0.42), Litter (0.14) and Enrichment (0.27). The beta-coefficients indicated how much GWS would improve from 1 unit improvement in PLS for each parameter, thus the potential impact on GWS ranged from 1.4 welfare points for Litter to 4.2 points for Density. When all parameters were included, 81% of the variance in GWS was explained (77% for inputs alone; 39% for outputs alone). From this, it appears that experts use both input and output parameters to explain overall welfare, and that both are important. The major conventional systems and modern cages for broilers received low welfare scores (2.9–3.7), well below scores that may be considered acceptable (5.5). Also, several alternatives like GAP 2 (4.9), Concepts NL (5.6), Organic US (5.8) and Freedom Food (6.2) are unacceptable, or at risk of being unacceptable due to individual variation between experts and farms. Thus, this expert survey provides a preliminary semi-quantified decision-support tool to help determine how to most effectively improve broiler welfare in a wide range of HSs.

Klíčová slova:

Article-level metrics – Food – Regression analysis – Scientists – Surveys – Welfare (social security) – Animal welfare – Air quality


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