The animal welfare status of EU-imported versus locally produced broiler meat

Frank Tuyttens, Roselien Vanderhasselt, K. Goethals, Luc Duchateau, J. Federici, C. Molento

    Onderzoeksoutput: Hoofdstuk in Boek/Rapport/CongresprocedureC3: Congres abstract


    Legislative welfare standards for broiler production are stricter in the EU than in many other parts of the world. Although these standards may increase production costs they’re not incorporated in World Trade Organisation regulations. The EU broiler industry may therefore be at a competitive disadvantage unless other attributes that differentiate locally produced meat from imported meat influence food purchasing decisions. Animal welfare may be such an attribute as consumers often associate local production with high welfare standards. The aim of this study was to compare broiler welfare on farms in Belgium versus Brazil (the major broiler meat exporter to the EU).Two trained observers, simultaneously and independently, carried out broiler welfare assessments on 11 farms in North Belgium and 11 farms in South Brazil that produced for the EU-market, using the Welfare Quality® protocol. Although the overall welfare category was the same for all farms (‘acceptable’), t-tests revealed many country differences at the level of the welfare principles, criteria and measures. Brazilian farms obtained higher scores for three of the four principles: ‘Good Feeding’ (P=0.007), ‘Good Housing’ (P<0.001), ‘Good Health’ (P=0.005). The mean score for the principle ‘Appropriate Behaviour’ did not differ significantly (P=0.741). Four of the 10 welfare criteria scores were, or tended to be, higher on Brazilian than Belgian farms: ‘Absence of Prolonged Thirst’ (P<0.001), ‘Ease of Movement’ (P<0.001), ‘Absence of Injuries’ (P=0.002), ‘Positive Emotional State’ (P=0.055). ‘Absence of Prolonged Hunger’ (P=0.048) and ‘Good Human-Animal Relationship’ (P=0.002) were the only two criteria with a higher score for the Belgian than Brazilian farms.Although overall broiler welfare was within the ‘acceptable’ category on all farms, Brazilian flocks obtained more often better scores for various welfare aspects than Belgian flocks did. Assuming that the Welfare Quality® protocol allows a valid quantification of animal welfare, these results suggest that the welfare of broilers produced in Brazil for import to the EU-market is not inferior to that of locally produced broilers. More welfare assessments using animal-based indicators on a larger sample of farms are needed to check whether these findings can be generalised. These results also call for more research to investigate the effect of animal welfare legislation on the actual welfare status on commercial farms.
    TitelProceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level
    Aantal pagina's1
    Plaats productieClermont-Ferrand
    UitgeverijWageningen Academic Publishers
    ISBN van geprinte versie978-90-8686-247-4
    ISBN van elektronische versie978-90-8686-798-1
    StatusGepubliceerd - 3-sep-2014
    EvenementWAFL 2014 - Clermont-Ferrand, Frankrijk
    Duur: 3-sep-20145-sep-2014

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