Bird welfare is increasingly important with consumers and poor performance can damage economic returns.
As consumer concerns regarding bird welfare become increasingly important and are codified into industry laws and regulation, poultry producers in some regions have been or may be able to establish higher priced premium labels based on welfare claims.3 However, data will be needed to support these statements. As such, HTSi provides the ability to track multiple welfare metrics that can potentially both improve production practices and address concerns regarding raising practices.
The HTSi platform measures several welfare-related lesions or skeletal damage factors including:
- Ammonia burns in cornea (AB)
- Burned feet
- Swollen head
- Tenosynovitis (TN)
- Swollen hock (HK)
- Tibial dyschondroplasia
- Burned feet were reported by producers in all regions
- Lowest levels – 15.3% of minor lesions – were reported in North America
- Highest levels – 13.6% of more severe lesions – were reported in Europe, the Middle East and Africa
About Ammonia Burns in Cornea (AB)HTSi® Definition:
Ammonia burns are typically identifiable as bilateral, or less frequently unilateral, damage to the eye that is characterized by cloudiness and/or ulceration of the cornea. Ocular tissue is known to be highly innervated. Ulcerations to the cornea are painful and result in a reduced state of animal welfare. Levels of pain are also directly correlated to bird health and performance. High ammonia levels directly impact respiratory health and bird performance.
High ammonia levels indicate litter imbalance and/or improper ventilation. Rate of ammonia formation is directly related to litter pH which can be regulated by fresh-litter management and litter amendments. Ammonia formation requires adequate litter moisture and drinking sources should be managed to reduce water wastage. The moisture level of fecal matter will vary with feed formulations and intestinal health. Fresh feces should be observed for consistency, and appropriate feed testing, and intestinal monitoring should be performed. The adequate movement of heated (drier) air into the house and subsequent removal of moist (wetter) air from the house are the primary means to reduce ammonia levels.
Ammonia burns are one measure of bird welfare that can also be used to track health; however, the metric is not always widely reported.
About Burned FeetHTSi® Definition:
Burned feet are typically identifiable by the presence of bilateral dark lesions. These indicate a problem with litter conditions often controllable by maNorth Americaging litter moisture and improving ventilation. Burns on the bottom of birds’ feet allow bacteria access to footpads and tendons, which can cause lameness. AdditioNorth Americally, increasing attention is being paid to this metric as an indicator of wellness and damage to feet can spur downgrades during processing along with reduced economic returns when paws are harvested.
Globally, producers in all regions indicate signs of burned feet occurring during, however, results vary region by region with North America having the fewest and Latin America having the most.
Regional burned feet metric highlightsThroughout the last 10 years average results for burned feet scores have varied by region.
Producers in Latin America and North America were able to address higher prevalence in burned feet, ultimately improving on where they started the decade, however, producers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa saw conditions decline slightly. Although producers in Asia Pacific started the decade with a higher prevalence of burned feet scores have been consistently improving for this welfare metric and by 2020, the Asia Pacific region reported the lowest incident rate of burned feet.