Identification of risk factors and prevalence of injuries at different stages of the broiler slaughter process

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Transport and handling of broilers during the (pre)slaughter process are risk factors for welfare. The impact of preslaughter treatments on injuries and thus the effect on welfare is poorly known. Moreover, it is unclear which proportion of carcass damage can be attributed to the conscious phase, and affects welfare, and which proportion of carcass damage can be attributed to handling after stunning and killing of birds and is related to product quality. We first analysed routinely collected data of a Dutch slaughter plant to identify risk factors for carcass damage. It was included whether or not prevalence of carcass damage was related to flock welfare status. Data collected in 2014-2016 from five farms with low foot pad dermatitis (FPD) score (<40 points) and five farms with high FPD score (>80 points) were analysed (N=771 flocks), assuming that FPD score was indicative of flock welfare status. A regression model was applied. The model showed positive associations between live body weight (P=0.000; B=0.001), number of dead-on-arrival (P=0.001; B=0.004), and wing damage. A negative association was found between wing damage and number of broilers per tray (P=0.037; B=-0.015). No relation between FPD score and carcass damage was found. Second, prevalence of injuries or damage during the slaughter process was determined in 20 flocks. Wing, leg and breast bruises, wing dislocations, and wing and leg fractures were scored between lairage and post-plucking. An increase in wing fractures from lairage (0,99%), post-shackling (1.67%), post-stunning (2.73%) and post-plucking (5.02%) was found (P=0.000 between all stages). Medium and large breast bruises increased between lairage and post-plucking (P=0.000). Small wing bruises decreased between lairage and post-plucking (P=0.047). This study showed that flock welfare status was not related to injuries, and that weight and crate density could be identified as risk factors for wing damage. Injuries and damage do mainly occur during the slaughter process. However, it was difficult to determine whether or not carcass damage originated from handling live animals, and thus is an animal welfare problem, or after stunning and therefore is a product quality issue. It is advised to develop an accuratebruise and damage scoring system that can be used to determine whether or not carcassdamage was caused in live animals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe XVth European Poultry Conference: Conference Information and Proceedings
EditorsEstella Prukner-Radovčić, Helga Medić
Place of PublicationZagreb
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2018


  • Broiler, Handling, Injuries, Slaughter, Welfare


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