Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 17, 2009
Publication Date: September 16, 2009
Citation: Fanatico, A.C., Donoghue, A.M. 2009. Animal Well-Being in Small Poultry Flocks: Improving bird health and product quality. In: Proceedings of 5th National Small Farm Conference, September 16-17, 2009, Springfield, Illinois, 2009 CDROM. Interpretive Summary: Small-scale poultry production has many inherent welfare advantages such as ample space, access to the outdoors, individual attention to the birds; however, some practices are difficult to justify from a welfare point of view. For example, birds may not be stunned before slaughter. Because most small-scale producers do not participate in welfare assurance programs, the producer has sole responsibility for the welfare of the birds and product quality.
Technical Abstract: Consumer interest in farm animal welfare is increasing and, while there is little legislation, voluntary welfare assurance programs exist; however, most small poultry producers do not participate in these programs. Raising birds in small flocks has some inherent welfare advantages, such as ample space and close attention to each bird, but producers must be aware of impacts of production practices on well-being, product quality, and environmental impact. For example, outdoor access allows a bird to express natural behaviors, such as scratching, dustbathing, and flying; however, if outdoor areas are not well-managed or pastures not rotated, it may become a source of pathogens and parasites; and excessive use may destroy vegetation. The introduction of disease should be prevented by good biosecurity, vaccination, quarantine or other methods. Although stunning before slaughter is an important practice in welfare assurance programs, most small poultry producers/processors do not stun before necks are cut. Research continues to focus on improving animal well-being in poultry and applications for bird health, product quality, and wholesomeness.