Leading Research: in 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.
Hen welfare is critical for an efficient and sustainable egg farming business. Improving hen health and welfare represents an important opportunity for productivity gains in each egg production system and to ensure that management practices align with consumer expectations.
The investment in hen welfare RD&E means that animal husbandry on-farm is supported by robust, replicated and peer reviewed science, with key research outcomes regarding best management practice being communicated to all stakeholders.
It is intended that outcomes will be animal welfare gains, productivity improvements and the ongoing sustainability of Australian’s egg industry.
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)
The minimum standards outlined in this code are intended to help people involved in the care and management of poultry to adopt standards of husbandry that are acceptable.
A summary of the causes of feather pecking, management strategies and husbandry practices to reduce the risk of a pecking event.
Standards and guidelines that ensure the welfare of poultry during land transport.
A best practice guide to help manage feather pecking in pullet, layer and breeder flocks.
Using an optical technique, researchers will be working on developing a device that can automatically determine the gender of chicken eggs. If the project is successful, the result will be a desktop device suitable for hatcheries.
In this proof of concept study, researchers will use artificial intelligence technology to detect certain behaviours in the flock and send an automated alert to staff.
Investigating UV light and light intensity and its effects on ranging behaviour of free range hens. This project will determine whether hens prefer or avoid high levels of UV or light intensity, how ranging behaviour is affected, and will better inform shade requirements.
Conducting a comprehensive study of 80 flocks in Victoria and Queensland to identify factors that are associated with smothering events. The results will provide a better understanding of interventions to prevent or minimise smothers.
Using the emerging field of microRNA to identify potential biomarkers of affective states in hens. This project will identify positive and negative markers that can be tested in pooled egg samples.
A review of the research to date on physiological and behavioural welfare indicators of hens in caged, barn and alternate systems; such as free range. The report provides a summary of the advantages, disadvantages and issues of different egg production systems.
This project investigated egg production in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, where conventional cage systems for laying hens are no longer permitted. The report gives an overview of some of the systems and equipment in use; their set-up and cost, and flock management practices in place.
Australian Eggs engaged a panel of researchers, including animal welfare scientists, veterinary and social science experts to identify and describe values based elements that arise in the context of the available frameworks for animal welfare on egg farms.
A review of lighting systems in hen housing facilities, to understand factors that can help boost flock productivity through optimising bird growth, onset of lay, desired behaviours and number of eggs laid.
Better informed industry on current developments in animal welfare theory and policy.
Increased positive stockperson attitudes to hens through the development of clicker training workshops.
Free range hen welfare: Characterisation of ‘outdoor’ and ‘indoor’ hens and physical features in the range
Egg production, health and egg quality implications addressed through characterisation of the effects of the use of the outdoor range on behaviour and physiology of free-range hens.
Better understanding of the role of science in animal welfare policy decisions, especially in relation to the standards and guidelines process.
Quantitative information concerning the location of pigment in the layers of the egg shell and identification of sites of pigment synthesis in the oviduct.
At the end of lay, spent layers have historically been caught, crated and transported to various poultry processing plants where they are processed for use in a variety of human food products.
Effects of rearing on inappropriate conflict behaviours that predispose feather pecking and subsequent plumage damage, and cannibalism
Cannibalistic pecking reduced thereby improving animal welfare, flock performance and uniformity
The effects of time off feed and water on the welfare of spent laying hens - Phase 2: Behavioural indicators
Welfare implications of different times off feed and water among spent hens known with improvements in industry policies resulting.
Due to increasing pressures on operating margins within the Australian egg industry, this study investigated the energy usage and ventilation systems in cage egg sheds.Optimising electricity usage is an important factor in improving the bottom line of egg production systems.
Improved welfare assessment of laying hens in cages through better knowledge and understanding of the importance of space and nests in cages
Industry information on the relative effects of production system on physiological stress indicators delivered