In the 2000s, the idea of a so-called middle-segment arose in North-West Europe to address the criticism on intensive broiler production systems. Middle-segment systems being indoor housing of slower-growing broiler strains at a stocking density ≤38 kg/m2. Previous literature showed that Dutch middle-segment systems entail a relatively large gain in animal welfare at a relatively low increase in costs, i.e., have a high cost-efficiency. The question is to what extent these findings are applicable to other countries. Therefore, the aim of this study is to gain insight in the global prospects of middle-segment systems by exploring the cost-efficiency of these systems in other parts of the world. A set of representative countries, containing the Netherlands, United States and Brazil were selected. Cost-efficiency was defined as the ratio of the change in the level of animal welfare and the change in production costs. The level of animal welfare was measured by the Welfare Quality (WQ) index score. Data was collected from literature and consulting experts. Results show that in the Netherlands, United States and Brazil a change from conventional towards a middle-segment system improves animal welfare in a cost-efficient manner (the Netherlands 9.1, United States 24.2 and Brazil 12.1). Overall, it can be concluded that in general middle-segment production systems provide a considerable increase in animal welfare at a relatively small increase in production costs and therefore offer good prospects for a cost-efficient improvement of broiler welfare.
- Animal welfare
- Broiler production