WATT PoultryUSA - January 2018 - 49
Perch space per hen is an example
of a resource-based welfare standard.
Outcome-based welfare measures have several
advantages: they apply across all housing systems, are
flexible, allow for continuous improvement, can benefit
hen welfare and economics for the producers, and they
have high acceptability.
Mench said the UEP will move to outcome-based
standards for its UEP-Certified program.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
has developed broiler welfare standards and is in the
process of developing welfare standards for laying
hens. OIE welfare standards are focused primarily on
outcome-based welfare measures.
Measuring bird outcomes
Mench cited feather loss for laying hens as a good
outcome-based welfare measure. Feather loss occurs
in all housing systems; examination of the hens can
provide insight into the reason for the feather loss,
whether it is from feather pecking, aggression or rubbing against the enclosure. Feather loss can also lead
to a more serious problem - cannibalism. Feather loss
is recognized as a welfare issue and a production issue.
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How to assess animal welfare with
It is a production issue because poorly feathered birds
are less well insulated and have to eat more feed to
maintain their body temperature.
Focusing on the welfare outcome, without mandating how it is achieved, provides the flexibility for innovation and the opportunity for continuous improvement. This is particularly important when trying to
improve performance on welfare measures that have
multiple possible causes like feather and vent pecking.
Mench said the ultimate goal of any welfare system
should be to improve bird welfare over time. Making
outcome-based measurements allows the producer to
know where they are today and give them the opportunity to make changes that will lead to improvements
in the future. These measures can then be used to
benchmark the results of one operation versus the rest
of the industry.