Scientific Opinion on welfare aspects of the management and housing of the grand-parent and parent stocks raised and kept for breeding purposes
This scientific opinion describes welfare aspects of the management and housing of the grand-parent and parent stocks (broiler breeders) raised and kept for breeding purposes in EU member states. The health and welfare consequences were reviewed and a risk assessment on the impact of housing and management on the welfare of broiler breeders, including the influence of genetic selection for fast growth, was carried out. Quantitative data on the different types of husbandry and management systems used in Europe is lacking. In the risk assessment process, the overall top five hazards according to risk scores were barren environments, high stocking density, fast growth rate, feed restriction and low light intensity. These varied slightly when the rearing-laying periods, males-females, and fast-slow growing birds were each analysed separately. It is recommended that birds requiring less feed restriction should be selected as future breeders even if this may involve reduced selected pressure on high growth rates. To track improvements over time, the degree of feed restriction required to maintain broiler breeder target weights should be monitored. It is recommended that the prevalence and effectiveness of different types of mutilations is collected and that no mutilation with an effect on welfare as severe as those resulting from cutting off toes or dubbing the comb should be carried out unless justified by evidence for a substantial and unavoidable level of poor welfare in the birds themselves and other birds. Furthermore it was recommended that animal-based welfare outcome indicators for use during monitoring or inspection of breeder stocks, as well as for monitoring trends over time should be developed.