Risk factors associated with Dead on Arrivals in broiler chicken transports

Leonie Jacobs, Evelyne Delezie, Frank Tuyttens, Luc Duchateau, K. Goethals

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingC3: Conference Abstract


    The pre-slaughter phase is a critical phase of the production process with potentially serious animal welfare implications, including death. These deaths are usually termed as Dead on Arrivals (DOAs). In order to reduce DOAs, its risk factors ought to be known. Therefore, the study’s aim was to examine the link between DOAs and potential pre-slaughter risk factors. Commercial transports (n=79) to 5 slaughter plants in Belgium were assessed. The transports consisted of 48,453±27,168 birds aged 41.2±1.3d and weighing 2.58±0.4kg (all means±SD). Farmers provided information on the flock, and observers gathered data on pre-slaughter factors. Data on DOAs were recorded by slaughter plant personnel. First, associations between 51 potential risk factors and DOAs were tested using univariate models. Significant risk factors (P<10%) and non-significant, but relevant, factors were considered for inclusion in a multivariable linear regression model. The final model was selected based on the results of an automatic stepwise selection procedure. Median DOA% was 0.19% (range 0.04-3.34%). Multivariate analysis resulted in a model with 4 factors that explained 29% (R2) of the variation in DOAs. Fewer DOAs were found when farmers checked day-old chick quality (0.21% vs. 0.51% when not checked; P=0.012), when birds were of low slaughter weight (P=0.046), when birds were manually caught by professionals (0.27% vs. 0.46% when caught by acquaintances; P=0.01), and when birds were laired inside (0.27% vs. 0.38% when laired outside; P=0.045). From our results, we conclude that improvements for broiler welfare could be made by adjusting management of the farmer. Additionally, birds should be lighter rather than heavier (possibly by slaughtering earlier in life), and caught by a team of professionals. Birds should be laired inside at the slaughter plant. Still, the precise, causal relationship between risk factors and DOAs should be further investigated to determine how DOAs can be reduced most efficiently.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings fo the XXVth World's Poultry Congress
    Number of pages1
    Publication date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventXXV World’s Poultry Congress - Beijing, China, Beijing, China
    Duration: 5-Sep-20169-Sep-2016

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