Skip to main content

Impact of animal welfare on worldwide poultry production

  • W. BESSEI (a1)

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.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author:
Hide All
BACOT, P., BARATAY, E., BARBET, D., FAURE, O. and MAYNAUD, J. (2003) L`animal en politique. L`éditions Harmattan, Paris.
BELL, D. (2000) Economic implications of reducing cage density in the US. Cooperative Extension of the University of California. An economic update, number 234. December 2000.
BETER LEVEN (2017) Criteria for layers and broilers (Dutch). Accessed Jan. 2017.
BRACKE, M.B.M. (2009) Animal welfare from a global perspective - A Survey of foreign agricultural services and case studies on poultry, aquaculture and wildlife. Wageningen UR Livestock Research. Accessed Jan 2017.
DAMME, K. (2016) Ökonomische Auswirkungen des Verzichts auf das Schnabelkupieren bei Legehennen (Economic effects of keeping intact-beak laying hens). Report, Bayerische Landesanstalt fuer Landwirtschaft (LfL), Kitzingen, Germany.
DAMME, K. and URSELMANS, S. (2013) Infrared beak treatment - a temporary solution? Lohmann Information 48 (2): 36-44.
DAMME, K., URSELMANS, S. and SCHMIDT, E. (2015) Economics of dual purpose breeds: a comparison of meat and egg production using dual purpose breeds. Lohmann Information 49 (2): 4-9.
DE JONG, I.C., HINDLE, V.A., BUTTERWORTH, A., ENGEL, B., FERRARI, P., GUNNINK, H., PEREZ MOYA, T., TUYTTENS, F.A. and VAN REENEN, C.G. (2016) Simplifying the Welfare Quality® assessment protocol for broiler chicken welfare. Animal 10: 117-127.
DRAKE, K.A. (2015) A brief review of drivers for change in the free range poultry industry. Proceedings of the Australian Poultry Science Symposium, Sydney, 9th -11th February 2015: 256-259.
DUNCAN, I.J. and PETHERICK, J.C. (1991) The implications of cognitive processes for animal welfare. Journal of Animal Science 69: 5017-5022.
ECON (2010) Overview of animal welfare standards in selected EU and third countries. Final Report, Schmid O. and R. Kilchsperger (Eds), Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland.
EFSA (2012) Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW). Scientific opinion on the use of animal-based measures to assess welfare of broilers. EFSA Journal 10: 27-74.
EU (1999) Richtlinie 1999/74/EG des Rates vom 19. Juli 1999 zur Festlegung von Mindestanforderungen zum Schutz von Legehennen. Amtsblatt der Europäischen Gemeinschaften L 203/53.
EU (2001) Standing committee of the European Convention for the protection of animals kept for farming purposes (T-AP).
EU (2007) Council Directive 2007/43/EC Minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production.
FAWC (1995) Report on the welfare of turkeys. Farm Animal Welfare Council, Tolworth Tower, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 7DX, UK.
FIKS VAN NIEKERK, T. and DE JONG, I. (2007) Mutilations in poultry in European poultry production systems. Lohmann Information 42: 35-46.
GALLI, R., PREUSSE, G., UCKERMANN, O., BARTELS, T., KRAUTWALD-JUNGHANNS, M.E., KOCH, E. and STEINER, G. (2016) In Ovo Sexing of Domestic Chicken Eggs by Raman Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry 88: 8657-8663.
GAP (2017) The 5-Step® Animal Welfare Program. (accessed August 2017).
GÖHLER, D., FISCHER, B. and MEISSNER, S. (2017) In-ovo sexing of 14-day-old chicken embryos by pattern analysis in hyperspectral images (VIS/NIR spectra): A non-destructive method for layer lines with gender-specific down feather color. Poultry Science 96: 1-4.
GROSS, W.B. and SIEGEL, P.B. (1983) Evolution of heterophil/leucocyte ration as a measure of stress in chickens . Avian Diseases 34: 755-761.
HARIS, J. and GSCHWINDT-ENSINGER, B. (1982) Das Kaufverhalten von Konsumenten bei der Entscheidung zwischen Eiern aus Boden- und Käfighaltung (Buying behaviour of consumers in the decision of eggs from deep litter and cages). Archive für Geflügelkunde. 46: 210-217.
HARRISON, R. (1964) Animal Machines. Ed..Vincent Stuart, London, UK.
HARTCHER, K.M., TRAN, M.K.T.N., WILKINSON, S.J., HEMSWORTH, P.H., THOMSON, P.C. and CRONIN, G.M. (2015) Plumage damage in free-range laying hens: Behavioural characteristics in the rearing period and the effects of environmental enrichment and beak-trimming . Applied Animal Behaviour Science 164: 64-72.
HUERTAS, S.M., GALL, C. and GALINDO, F. (2014) Drivers of animal welfare in the Americas. Scientific and Technical Review of the Office International des Epizooties (Paris) 33: 67-76.
INITIATIVE POULTRY WELLBEING (2017) Informationen zur Initiative Tierwohl (Information on the Initative Animal Welfare). https://initiative-tierwohl. de/downloads/. Accessed Jan. 2017.
KEELING, L. (2009) An overview of the development of the Welfare Quality project assessment system. Welfare Quality Report Nr. 12, Cardiff University, Cardiff, U.K.
KIM, J.S. (2014) Poultry welfare policy and research in Korea. Proceedings of the 10th Asia Pacific Poultry Conference, 19-23 October 2014, Jeju, Korea 223.
KJAERNES, U., MIELE, M. and ROEX, J. (2007) Attitudes of Consumers, Retailers and Producers to Farm Animal Welfare. Quality® Reports No. 2, Cardiff University 1-29.
LAMBTON, S.L., KNOWLES, T.G., YORKE, C. and NICOL, C.J. (2010) The risk factors affecting the development of gentle and severe feather pecking in loose housed laying hens . Applied Animal Behaviour Science 123: 32-42.
LAMBTON, S.L., KNOWLES, T.G., YORKE, C. and NICOL, C.J. (2015) The risk factors affecting the development of vent pecking and cannibalism in free-range and organic laying hens . Animal Welfare 24: 101-111.
LAY, D.C., FULTON, R.M., HESTER, P.Y., KARCHER, D.M., KJAER, J.B., MENCH, J.A., MULLENS, B.A., NEWBERRY, R.C., NICOL, C.J., O'SULLIVAN, N.P. and PORTER, R.E. (2011) Hen welfare in different housing systems . Poultry Science 90: 278-294.
LAYWEL (2006) Welfare implications of changes in production systems for laying hens. CD - Results of the European Project SSPE-CT-2004-502315.
LEENSTRA, F., VAN HORNE, P. and VAN KRIMPEN, M. (2010) Dual purpose chicken, exploration of technical, environmental and economical feasibility. Proceedings of the XIII European Poultry Congress, Tours, France.
LICHTER, J. and KLEIBRINK, J. (2015) Geflügelwirtschaft weltweit - Deutschland im internationalen Vergleich. Handelsblatt Research Institute, Duesseldorf, Germany.
MATTHEWS, W.A. and SUMNER, D.A. (2015) Effects of housing system on the costs of commercial egg production . Poultry Science 94: 552-557.
MAXWELL, M.H. (1993) Avian blood leucocyte responses to stress. World´s Poultry Science Journal 49: 34-43.
MENCH, J.A. (1998) Thirty years after Brambell. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 1: 91-102.
MENCH, J.A. (2008) Farm animal welfare in the U.S.A.: Farming practices, research, education, regulation, and assurance programmes. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 113: 298-312.
MENCH, J.A. and BLATCHFORD, R.A. (2014) Determination of space use by laying hens using kinematic analysis. Poultry Science 93: 794-798.
MEYER, S., PUPPE, B. and LANGBEIN, J. (2010) Kognitive Umweltanreicherung bei Zoo- und Nutztieren- Implikationen für Verhalten und Wohlbefinden der Tiere. Berliner und Münchener Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 123: 446-456.
MOE, R.O., GUÉMENÉ, D., BAKKEN, M., LARSEN, H.J.S., SHINI, S., LERVIK, S., SKJERVE, E., MICHEL, V. and TAUSON, R. (2010) Effects of housing conditions during the rearing and laying period on adrenal reactivity, immune response and heterophil to lymphocyte (H/L) ratios in laying hens . Animal 4: 1709-1715.
MONTAGUE, P.R. and BERNS, G.S. (2002) Neural Economics and the Biological Substrates of Valuation . Neuron 36: 265-284.
NCC (2017) Animal Welfare for Broiler Chickens. Accessed August 2017.
NL (2006) Verordening Welzijnsnormen Vleeskoenen, 2003; Integrale Tekst, 2006.
OHH, S.J., JUNG, Y.P., LEE, J.Y. and LEE, J. (2014) A study on the consumer valuing for animal welfare using experimental auction market. Loc. cit. Ohh, S.J., Lee, Jung-In, Lee, J.Y.: Poultry Welfare-prospect and concern for the current poultry production industry. Proceedings of the 10th Asian Pacific Poultry Conference, Jeju, Korea, 19 - 23 Oct. 2014: 49-52.
OIE (2013a) OIE`s achievements in animal welfare. In: Terrestrial animal health code, 22nd ed., OIE, Paris.
OIE (2013b) Animal welfare. In: Terrestrial animal health code, 22nd ed., OIE, Paris.
RIBBEKK, E. (2005) World Urbanisation Prospects: The 2005 Revision United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs / Population Division »«.
ROBINS, A. and PHILLIPS, C.J.C. (2011) International approaches to the welfare of meat chickens . World's Poultry Science Journal 67: 351-369.
RSPCA (2012) Welfare standards for turkeys. Accessed 2016.
RUSHEN, J. (1991) Problems associated with the interpretation of physiological data in the assessment of animal welfare . Applied Animal Behaviour Science 28: 381-386.
SATO, S. and OHARA, A. (2014) Recent trends of policy and research relating poultry welfare in Japan. Proceedings of the 10th Asian Pacific Poultry Conference, Jeju, Korea, 19 - 23 Oct. 2014: 223.
SHANAWANY, M.M. (1988) Broiler Performance under high stocking densities . British Poultry Science 29: 43-52.
SHERWIN, C.M., RICHARDS, G.J. and NICOL, C.J. (2010) Comparison of the welfare of layer hens in 4 housing systems in the UK . British Poultry Science 51: 488-499.
SINGER, P. (1995) Animal Liberation. Updated version. The Bodley Head, London.
SOUZA, A.P.O., DE OLIVEIRA SANS, E.C., MÜLLER, B.R. and MOLENTO, C.F.M. (2015) Broiler chicken welfare assessment in GLOBALGAP® certified and noncertified farms in Brazil . Animal Welfare 24: 45-54.
STADIG, L.M. (2015) Opinion of Belgian egg farmers on hen welfare and its relationship with housing type . Animal 6:1-11.
STADIG, L.M., AMPE, B.A., VAN GANSBEKE, S., VAN DEN BOGAERT, T., D'HAENENS, E., HEERKENS, J.L.T. and TUYTTENS, F.A.M. (2016) Survey of egg farmers regarding the ban on conventional cages in the EU and their opinion of alternative layer housing systems in Flanders, Belgium . Poultry Science 95: 715-725.
TRINH, C. (1997) Le développement des productions ‘alternatives’ d'oeufs en Europe. Analyse des réglementations relatives au bien être et situation du marché. ITAVI, Paris, France: 42.
TUYTTENS, F., VANHONACKER, F. and VERBEKE, W. (2014) Broiler production in Flanders, Belgium: Current situation and producers' opinions about animal welfare . World's Poultry Science Journal 70: 343-354.
UEP (2016) United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg Laying Flocks 2016 Edition Accessed August 2017.
VAN HORNE, P.L.M. and ACHTERBOSCH, T.J. (2008) Animal welfare in poultry production systems: Impact of EU standards on world trade . World's Poultry Science Journal 64: 40-51.
VAN NIEKERK, T. and REUVEKAMP, B. (2011) Rondeel™, a new housing design for laying hens. Lohmann Information 46: 25-28.
VANHONACKER, F. and VERBEKE, W. (2009) Buying higher welfare poultry products? Profiling Flemish consumers who do and do not . Poultry Science 88: 2702-2711.
VIZZIER-THAXTON, Y., CHRISTENSEN, K.D., MENCH, J.A., RUMLEY, E.R., DAUGHERTY, C., FEINBERG, B., PARKER, M., SIEGEL, P. and SCANES, C.G. (2016) Symposium: Animal welfare challenges for today and tomorrow . Poultry Science 95: 2198-2207.
VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT (1999) Bundeseinheitliche Eckwerte für eine freiwillige Vereinbarung zur Haltung von Jungmasthühnern (Broiler, Masthähnchen) und Mastputen. Document of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture BML 321-3545/2, Bonn, 2 September 1999.
WALLEY, K., PARROTT, P., CUSTANCE, P., MELEDO-ABRAHAM, P. and BOURDIN, A. (2015) A review of French consumers purchasing patterns, perceptions and decision factors for poultry meat . World's Poultry Science Journal 71: 5-13.
WEISSMANN, A., REITEMEIER, S., HAHN, A., GOTTSCHALK, J. and EINSPANIER, A. (2013) Sexing domestic chicken before hatch: A new method for in ovo gender identification . Theriogenology 80: 199-205.
WINDHORST, H.-W. (2008) Eiererzeugung in Kalifornien. Das Volk hat entschieden - Die Käfighaltung wird verboten. Deutsche Geflügelwirtschaft und Schweineproduktion 60: 3.
WINDHORST, H.-W. (2016) Cage-free heißt das Zauberwort. Ausstieg aus der Käfighaltung in den USA steht bevor. Deutsche Geflügelwirtschaft und Schweineproduktion 68 (27): 1-5.
WELFARE QUALITY (2009) The Overall On-farm Animal Welfare Score., accessed 19.04.2017.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World's Poultry Science Journal
  • ISSN: 0043-9339
  • EISSN: 1743-4777
  • URL: /core/journals/world-s-poultry-science-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed