Validated Broiler Welfare Measures Recommended to Researchers

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Broiler welfare research has steadily increased to reflect consumers’ and producers’ concerns with the health and well-being of commercial flocks, as well as the increase in pledges to improve broiler welfare in the restaurant and grocery industries. Six hundred Ross 308 broilers, with a subset exposed to environmental enrichment, were used as an example flock to test welfare measures. Data associated with treatment outcomes are purposefully omitted with the intention to present a purely methodological report that may be used as a reference for poultry researchers. The methods presented here were validated in a research setting to further unite measures of broiler welfare, specifically in research, as they may be in some cases impractical for commercial producers or auditors to implement. Measures described here include video-recording broilers for behavior analysis, which may be too time-consuming and costly to use realistically in full-scale commercial barns, and other postmortem measures that require the use of legs that would commercially be harvested for human consumption. A companion report titled “Validated methods for producers to measure on-farm commercial broiler welfare” can be referenced for simplified measures recommended for commercial welfare audits on-farm. Thus, the methods validated here to measure broiler bird welfare are recommended for broiler research to measure the effects of treatments, environmental enrichment, or general bird welfare.


How to Cite: Meyer, M. , Johnson, A. K. & Bobeck, E. (2019) “Validated Broiler Welfare Measures Recommended to Researchers”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report. 16(1).