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Impact of animal welfare on worldwide poultry production

  • W. BESSEI (a1)
Abstract

Animal welfare has become an important issue in poultry production. Concern about poultry welfare has mainly been expressed in industrialised countries. Since trade of poultry products is highly internationalised, welfare aspects have to be considered by all countries involved. This paper reviews the changes in the attitude to animal welfare in Western societies and the related development of regulations and standards, the impact of high welfare standards on production costs and on international trade of poultry products and finally, the influence of different stakeholders on poultry production and marketing. From the 1960s onwards, animal welfare activities have been focused on farm animals kept under ‘industrial’ conditions, such as caged laying hens. Consequently, the management conditions for laying hens in Europe have been regulated in detail by national laws and EU-Directives. Meanwhile, conventional cages have been banned in the EU and welfare activities are now directed towards other issues, such as beak-trimming and killing day-old chicks of layer lines. All measures which are considered to improve the welfare of animals increase cost of production. Hence, differences in national welfare regulations are expected to relocate poultry production to countries with low welfare standards. There is a tendency that important retailers and food chains use welfare as a marketing argument and establish high price premium labels. Standards which are established and controlled by stakeholders of the poultry market are independent of national welfare legislation. This will lead to harmonisation of welfare standards on an international level. Most welfare labels have been developed by retailers in cooperation with welfare-oriented NGOs. There is a new trend in Germany where retailers and farmers organisations develop welfare schemes and poultry producers are paid an extra allowance for welfare-friendly production. This system ensures that poultry farmers are reimbursed for the welfare-related costs.

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Corresponding author: bessei@uni-hohenheim.de
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