Chicken brands should communicate with consumers about how hard the industry is working to drive improvements in broiler welfare outcomes through balanced genetics, new technologies to automate the monitoring process and preference research, a trio of welfare experts shared at the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit. 

“Welfare is nothing new to the industry,”  Ken Martin, broiler production manager, Fieldale Farms, said. “Our goals are your goals.” 

Cooper joined Karen Christensen, Ph.D., senior director of animal wellbeing, Tyson Foods, and Mark Cooper, Ph.D., managing director, global genetics, Cobb-Vantress to discuss how third-party inspections and continuous improvement programs are improving bird welfare outcomes and the research and selective breeding efforts that will continue to drive improvement.  

Tools and technology to measure animal welfare outcomes 

Numerous research projects are proactively tackling the broiler welfare challenge. New technological tools – from video monitoring to vocal recordings – make automatically measuring chicken welfare easier. 

“I believe that the biggest improvements in bird welfare will come about as a part of these new technologies,” Christensen said. 

At the Tyson Foods’ Broiler Welfare Research Farm (BWRF), a current research project leverages animal preference to figure out the best environment enrichment for broilers. Broilers were given a choice between ramps, huts and boxes. All the enrichment options were readily designed for immediate use in commercial facilities. 

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Machine learning tools can automatically monitor bird gait and activity, while advancements in precision farming can detect how changes in environmental factors – from temperature to light to humidity – affect broiler behavior. 

Balanced genetic selection 

Cooper stressed that modern broiler breeding focuses on balanced genetic selection. 

“Some people assume that we are just selecting for the heaviest breast or the most eggs,” Cooper explained. “We’re paying attention to what our final consumers are asking and trying to keep our birds balanced as we go forward. 

Attend the 2022 Chicken Marketing Summit

The 2022 Chicken Marketing Summit will be held at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia on July 24-26. Serving a unique cross section of the chicken supply chain, Chicken Marketing Summit explores issues and trends in food marketing and consumer chicken consumption patterns and purchasing behavior.
 
For more information and to attend, visit: www.wattglobalmedia.com/chickenmarketingsummit/.

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