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.
As the majority of hens in Australia are housed in cages, which is a controversial animal welfare issue for the egg industry, an analysis of nest boxes and their use by laying hens is an important aspect of understanding the effect on bird welfare, behaviour, and ultimately, egg production.