Animal Care / Welfare

What is animal welfare?

Animal welfare refers to the protection of the health and well-being of animals. It concerns how an animal is coping in its living environment in terms of freedom from hunger and thirst, fear and distress, discomfort, pain injury or disease, and the freedom to express natural behaviours.

Farmers and animal welfare

Animal welfare is a fundamental part of farming and egg farmers understand the responsibility they have for animals in their care. Animal welfare is also an important aspect of competition: for an egg farmer to be successful their hens must be highly productive and this is not possible if the hens are suffering from illness or stress.

Caring for hens

Caring for hens is complex and involves trade-offs between different aspects of animal welfare that may conflict. For example, increased freedom to exhibit natural behaviours can expose hens to greater risks in outdoor environments. While egg farmers use three main systems to manage animal welfare – cage, barn and free range - research has found the biggest factor influencing welfare is how the hen is cared for.

Improving hen health and welfare represents an important opportunity for productivity gains in each egg production system and to ensure management practices align with consumer expectations.

Australian Eggs has made hen welfare a key area of focus and we are supporting best practice animal husbandry through robust, replicated and peer reviewed science. This process also includes the communication of key research outcomes of best management practice to all stakeholders.

Research library

Reports on animal welfare are available in the research library

Barnhealth online resource

Barnhealth is a resource providing knowledge and information interfaces that support the identification of issues affecting flock performance. Developed with the assistance of the world’s leading veterinarians, scientists, and nutritionists; Barnhealth’s flagship solutions DTECT and Library assist users to identify and eliminate performance barriers, prevent mortalities, and sustain or improve production yields.

http://barnhealth.com/

Managing Fowl Behaviour – a best practice guide 

Feather pecking and cannibalism can be a significant problem for poultry farmers and breeders as it can lead to reduced bird well-being and lost production. There are a number of on-farm strategies that can be used to reduce the risk of a cannibalism or feather pecking event. These can be complemented by infrared beak treatment, or, as the last resort, beak trimming with a hot blade.

The Managing Fowl Behaviour handbook provides poultry breeders, pullet rearers and layer farmers with the resources to reduce the risk of feather pecking and cannibalism. It provides an overview of the problem, the various solutions available to manage it, and resources that can be used by farm managers as a benchmark tool to compare their current strategies with those considered to be best practice.

The handbook is available in the document set below as high and low resolution files.

A brief introduction to Managing Fowl Behaviour, checklists, work instructions and scoring sheets in the appendices of the handbook are available as separate downloads designed for use in the poultry house.

Managing Fowl Behaviour

  • Managing Fowl Behaviour high resolution

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 5:02pm PDF (16 MB)

    Managing-Fowl-Behaviour-High-Resolution.pdf

  • Managing Fowl Behaviour low resolution

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 5:02pm PDF (9.8 MB)

    Managing-Fowl-Behaviour-Low-Resolution.pdf

  • An introduction to Managing Fowl Behaviour

    Last changed: 09/11/2017 8:54am PDF (1.2 MB)

    A summary of the causes of feather pecking and cannibalism, management strategies and husbandry practices to reduce the risk of a pecking event

    Fowl-Behaviour-Introduction.pdf

  • Monitoring and managing poultry to minimise feather pecking and cannibalism

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 3:42pm PDF (94 KB)

    A checklist of farm practices necessary to manage disruptive stressors and minimise the risk of feather pecking or cannibalism or for when the first signs of feather pecking or cannibalism in a flock are observed.

    Minimising-Pecking-and-Cannibalism-Checksheet.pdf

  • Feather pecking and cannibalism event work instructions

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:43pm PDF (53 KB)

    Work instructions or standard operating procedures for when feather pecking or cannibalism occurs in a flock.

    Pecking-and-Cannibalism-Event-Work-Instructions.pdf

  • Audit questions for breeders on practices to minimise pecking risk in progeny

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:44pm PDF (49 KB)

    Farm practices audit and implications that contribute to the risk of feather pecking and cannibalism in breeder progeny.

    Part-I-Audit-Q-Hatchery-Breeders-Husbandry-Practices.pdf

  • Audit questions for farm managers on husbandry practices to minimise pecking risk

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:45pm PDF (67 KB)

    Farm practices and implications that contribute to the risk of feather pecking and cannibalism in a poultry flock.

    Part-II-Audit-Q-Farm-Managers-Husbandry-Practices.pdf

  • Feather condition and behaviour score sheet

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:45pm PDF (497 KB)

    Scoring sheets for monitoring plumage condition, pecking behaviour, flock vocalisation and flightiness. These sheets can also be used to train stock hands to develop their skills in observing and detecting changes in flock behaviour during daily checks. (Print in colour for best results)

    Feathering-and-Behaviour-Score-Sheet.pdf

  • Work instructions for monitoring chickens after infrared beak treatment

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:46pm PDF (53 KB)

    Work instructions or standard operating procedures for managing beak treated chickens at placement in the brooder to make sure they get off to a good start.

    Monitor-After-IRBT-Work-Instructions.pdf

  • Infrared beak treatment beak shape scoring sheets

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 5:04pm PDF (246 KB)

    Scoring sheets for assessing the beak shape of IRBT poultry. Score the beaks at 28 days of age, before and after delivery to the laying facilities, when a feather pecking or cannibalism event occurs and towards the end of lay if there are concerns about beak shape.

    Part-A-IRBT-Scoring-Sheets.pdf

  • Farm manager and trim team check list for hot blade beak trimming

    Last changed: 27/10/2017 12:47pm PDF (75 KB)

    A checklist for farm managers and hot blade trim team leaders when beak trimming a poultry flock.

    Manager-and-Team-Checklist-HB-Trimming.pdf

  • Work instructions for monitoring poultry after hot blade beak trimming

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 5:09pm PDF (57 KB)

    Work instructions or standard operating procedures for regular monitoring of a flock after trimming with a hot blade.

    Monitoring-Poultry-After-HB-Trimming.pdf

  • Scoring sheets for monitoring beaks after trimming with hot blade

    Last changed: 17/10/2017 5:12pm PDF (193 KB)

    Scoring sheets for assessing the shape and imperfections of beaks following trimming with a hot blade. Score the beaks on the day of trim, 10–14 days after trimming, before and after delivery to the laying facilities, when a feather pecking or cannibalism event occurs and towards the end of lay if there are concerns about beak shape.

    Part-B-Hot-Blade-Trimming-Beak-Score-Sheets.pdf

Codes of Practice