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16 September 2015

Influence of two catching methods on the occurrence of lesions in broilers

During the catching of broilers for slaughter, 2 to 3 birds are grabbed per hand at one leg at the same time. From an animal welfare point of view, this procedure is under critical observation from animal welfare administration and the general public. In this paper 2 catching methods were compared: the routinely used 1-leg catching method, and a second tech-nique whereby birds were grabbed by both legs with a maximum of 2 birds per hand (2-leg catching method). Lesions on the body, legs, and wings (hemorrhages and fractures) were recorded by a camera system located after the plucking position. Two weight classes, 2 catching teams, and 2 flocks were included in the study. Heavy animals showed more lesions than birds of the light weight class. In all investigations, lesions on the body and legs were rare, whereas wing lesions occurred at a rate of up to 15.32%. Statistical analysis showed no significant difference between the 2 methods or between the catching teams for both weight classes. A correlation between lesions and weight was observed, with a significant odds ratio (OR) of 3.6 (95% CI: 3.299–3.957). During 2-leg catching, the animals appeared to be more restless. Workers stated that the grabbing of both legs of a bird was more difficult and that working in a crouching position for a longer time was harder. We conclude that the cautious handling of animals to reduce stress is more important than “holding animals by both legs”, as has been proposed.
Author/Organization: Nina Langkabel, Maximilian P. O. Baumann, Annika Feiler, Arsooth Sanguankiat and Reinhard Fries
Year: 2015
Topics: animal stress/discomfort/distress, broilers, pain/injury/harm, welfare assessment