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Broiler breeders: feed restriction and welfare

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2007

J.A. Mench
Department of Animal Science, One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616, USA, e-mail:
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Broiler breeders are truly caught in a welfare dilemma, because the management practices that are necessary to ensure health and reproductive competence may also result in a reduction in other aspects of welfare. In this paper I review the welfare concerns associated with feed restriction of broiler breeders. Broiler breeders show evidence of physiological stress as well as an increased incidence of abnormal behaviours, and are also chronically hungry. Alternative methods of decreasing feed intake, dietary dilution or the use of anorexic agents, are also discussed. Thus far, all of these methods have proven unsatisfactory in terms of body weight control, and in addition they do not necessarily improve welfare. Emphasis needs to continue to be placed on developing alternatives to, and modifications of, current feed restriction programmes in order to improve broiler breeder welfare. In addition, the use of genetic selection to decrease the need for restriction should be further explored.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2002

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