WATT PoultryUSA - December 2017 - 24
24 ❙ WATTPoultryUSA
CONSUMER BROILER WELFARE MESSAGING
Behavioral welfare measures
resonate with consumers
Christianson discussed two behavioral measures of welfare Perdue Farms is focusing on: the freedom of space for
flocks and the freedom for birds to express natural behavior.
"We study what consumers want relative to specific attributes of broiler welfare," he said. "The clearest image in the
minds of consumers is the idea of raising the animals in freerange conditions. That is the winning idea with consumers."
A second, related concern, he said, is for birds to be
able to express natural behavior, such as dust bathing,
pecking at things and standing on a perch.
Perdue recently installed housing enrichments, including
hay bales for perching and objects for pecking, in its housing.
Bird activity levels in consumer focus
Related to the GAP standard, Perdue aims to double
the activity level of its flocks. The company is installing
windows in newly constructed broiler housing.
"Bird activity is an important metric for us, because
we believe the more active the birds the healthier they
are," Christianson said.
The windows in broiler houses increased the birds'
activity level, but the company saw a decline in performance. The feed conversion ratio (pound of feed to produce a pound of meat) rose in flocks with the windows.
Welfare benefits for slow growing broilers?
Hubbard saw the headlong rush to adopt slower-growing broilers in parts of Europe as of questionable value for
the welfare of birds.
"We have yet to see the evidence that slow-growth
birds lead to better welfare," he said.
Proof that slow growth leads to better welfare is needed before this attribute is added to welfare scorecards.
"One of my concerns is that the push for slow-growing