Relative contribution of production chain phases to health and performance of broiler chickens: a field study

Ingrid C. de Jong*, Johan W. van Riel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing evidence that health and performance of the breeder flock significantly contributes to health and performance of their progeny. Data of broiler performance and health are routinely collected in various stages of the broiler production chain. In the Netherlands, the broiler chain operates at a relatively non-integrated level and the various databases are usually not connected. Connecting databases may however provide important information to improve chain performance. The aim of the present study was to determine systematic effects of broiler breeder production farm or flock on health (mortality and antibiotics use) and performance of their offspring, using data routinely collected at the different stages of the production chain. Broiler flock data collected over 6 yr (daily growth, slaughter weight, carcass weight uniformity, carcass condemnations, first week and total mortality, and antibiotics use) were linked to breeder flocks and farms. In total, 2,174 broiler flock records (at house level) of 74 broiler farms were linked to 88 broiler breeder farms and 209 breeder flocks. A mixed model analysis was applied to simultaneously estimate effects of season, parent flock age, time trend, and the contribution of the different chain phases to broiler performance and health. No systematic effects of breeder farm and only small systematic effects of breeder flock on broiler health and performance were found. The largest breeder flock effect was found for carcass condemnations (estimated contribution to the variance component: 7%). Most variation on broiler health and performance was explained by broiler farm and “day-old chick batch.” The latter refers to the rest variance that could not be explained by other factors, i.e., incidental effects linked to the specific day-old chick batch and the stage between the breeder and broiler farm. Our results suggest that systematic effects of breeder flock and farm could have been overruled by (management in) the hatchery phase and the broiler farm. This indicates room for improvement of management in these production phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • broiler
  • broiler breeder
  • health
  • performance
  • production chain data


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