Main research question/goal
This project focuses on a method to assess the welfare of Belgian broiler chickens that is faster, practical, uniform, cost-efficient and effective. The present assessments are based on checklists that do not always accurately depict the animals' welfare. Implementation of the Welfare Quality Protocol could improve insight into the welfare of broiler chickens, but this protocol is substantially more time consuming than the checklist system and is therefore difficult to use in the field. The research question of the ANASPAR project is whether it is possible to replace time-consuming Welfare Quality measurements with data that are already being gathered routinely by other institutions. Furthermore, is it possible to leave out other measurements because they contribute little or nothing to the final welfare assessment?Research approach
We use a snowball method to make an inventory of which information systems exist today, which data are being collected, at which frequency, at which time, and whether or not the institutions are willing to share this data for our research. Second, we assess the overall welfare of commercial flocks of broiler chickens on farms and at the slaughterhouse using the complete Welfare Quality Protocol. Based on statistical correlations between the collected Welfare Quality measures and the routinely collected data we assess which parts of the Welfare Quality protocol are replaceable by routine data and how much time this would save. Finally, we investigate whether or not routinely collected data can function as an 'alarm bell' to facilitate targeted Welfare Quality assessment of farms with an increased risk of welfare problems, and to assess the correlations between Welfare Quality indicators and management factors.Relevance/Valorisation
We expect that a quicker but equally powerful methodology will lead to a more accurate assessment of broiler welfare. The time-consuming nature of the current protocol hinders large scale application. A less time-consuming but equally powerful tool should alleviate this problem.