Broiler producers are often said to be the best judges of their birds’ welfare due to daily contact with their birds and a consequent ability to see when things are not quite right.

This may well be true, but what if you are new to broiler production?

Experience takes time to acquire, so any helping in understanding broiler behaviors has to be welcomed -- by producers and broilers alike.

Industry input

This is exactly what a new video, the result of a U.K. industry-academia collaboration, aims to do, and that being made available to all chicken producers.

The video is the result of a collaboration between supermarket chain The Co-op, the U.K.’s largest poultry producer, 2 Sisters Food Group, Bristol Veterinary School, and food sustainability research, data and consultancy business FAI Farms.

Four years were spent researching how farmers assess broiler behavior and gaps were found in how training is given to new broiler farmers. The shortfalls primarily centered the importance of observing bird behavior and on how producers could improve welfare through encouraging positive behaviors.

Using on-farm footage of broilers exhibiting positive behaviors – i.e. those that birds are highly motivated to perform and result in positive experiences – the video explains why these behaviors are important for welfare. It goes to explain the importance of litter, detailing why dry and friable litter is not simply good for birds’ physical health but also acts as a source of environmental enrichment that can be interacted with, so allowing allow broilers to express positive behaviors.

New broiler producers are encouraged to find time each day to simply watch their birds, as this will be best way to detect and understand their behavior, and result in anything that may not be quite right to be detected.

Warm welcome

When shown to a group of experienced broiler producers supplying The Co-op positive feedback regarding its messaging was universal. Ninety-five percent of producers judged it to be “extremely effective” in explaining the benefits of observing birds, while 83% said that they would be looking for and encouraging positive behaviors in the future.

The video is being shown to all new chicken farmers joining The Co-op supply chain, and is also being made more widely available through a training provider.