WATT PoultryUSA - April 2018 - 22
22 ❙ WATTPoultryUSA
Do engagements, natural
environments help broiler welfare?
Adding engagements to stimulate animals and changing the
environment to make it more similar to nature should help elevate
welfare and performance. Does it?
Conventional thinking surrounding animal welfare
suggests creating an environment more similar to the
nature leads to happier birds and better performance.
But are the environmental enrichments and changes
currently used in the broiler industry really helping?
A panel of animal welfare experts tackled this question, among others, as part of WATT Global Media's
panel discussion on measuring and improving broiler
welfare. Appearing on the panel were: Jim Shepard, senior director live operations for Wayne Farms LLC; Dr.
Stephanie Torrey, senior research scientist for animal
biosciences at the University of Guelph; Dr. Joy Mench,
professor emeritus for animal science department at
the University of California at Davis; and Dr. Suzanne
Dougherty, executive vice president of the American
Association of Avian Pathologists and a consulting veterinarian with Pecking Around Consulting. The panel
took place on February 1, 2018, as part of the 2018
International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta.
Do engagements work?
A major aspect of broiler welfare programs is the
addition of engagements that are designed to help the
birds be more active and mentally engaged. This supposedly leads to better overall welfare.
Shepard said he was optimistic about the use of
engagements at Wayne Farms. Ninety percent of what
the company does in the name of animal welfare - including the engagements - comes back in the form of
profits. The other 10 percent, he said, is done because
Wayne Farms is using engagement huts, pictured,
which provide shelter for the birds and give them
something to peck and scratch. Courtesy of Wayne Farms
it's the right thing for the bird.
In 2017, Wayne Farms started raising some birds
under the welfare standards established by the Global
Animal Partnership (GAP) welfare rating system. In
September 2017, it launched a line of products - Naked
Truth - rated GAP Step 2, meaning the birds live in
an enriched environment. GAP's highest rank, of six
in total, is Step 5+, where the birds spend their entire
lives on the farm and are raised in an animal-centered
and pastured environment.
As of February 2018, Wayne Farms converted less
than 5 percent of its farms to meet GAP standards. But
it will continue to increase the number of GAP farms
to meet growing customer demand, according to Alan
Sterling, director of marketing for Wayne Farms.
For specific engagements, Wayne Farms tested
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ April 2018