In her presentation on Poultry Handling & Slaughter Issues at the Animal Care and Handling: Focus on Poultry program at the 2013 International Production & Processing Expo, Dr. Kate Barger, DVM, Cobb-Vantress, compared a 1957 six-week broiler to a 2012 six-week broiler. The comparison showed the 2012 broiler had improved growth, better feed conversion and more meat on the bird's frame, a result of better nutrition and animal welfare, in addition to improved genetics, which make the birds more robust with increased resistance.
However, Barger indicated that today's growers need to be more efficient with the goal of getting more birds to the processing plant with fewer condemnations. "In a situation where we are looking at sustainability, we are trying to get more birds to the plants, so we can feed the ever growing world population," said Barger. "We need do this by not only considering welfare and efficiency, but also by getting the birds there in healthy format." She said that animal welfare required a balance in environmental, social and economic aspects, which involves competition for space on animal farms and space per animal, competition for efficiency and competition for raw ingredients, especially grain, energy and water.
Dr. Yzonne Vizzier Thaxton, University of Arkansas , discussed different stunning systems in her presentation on Stunning Systems for Chickens and Turkeys. Thaxton discussed the purpose of stunning and a well as the potential issues that affect the welfare of the bird before stunning. She said that stunning methods have to be monitored carefully and controlled. Employees much be trained with the goal of the industry to reach 100 percent effectiveness.
In her presentation on the Importance of Independence Audits, Dr. Karen Christensen, OK Foods , a PAACO Auditor (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization), described the importance of third party audits to the poultry and egg industry and briefly reviewed the NCC, NTF, UEP animal care guidelines as audit instruments. She said that audits are not easy to develop and that scientific practices must be constantly reviewed. Christensen said that there are many audits in the poultry industry and that the industry is looking for one good rigorous audit that would be accepted by everyone and meets the needs of all customers.