Animals 2020, 10(3), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10030378

2020 | by Philip J. Jones, Fernanda M. Tahamtani, Ida J. Pedersen, Jarkko K. Niemi, Anja B. Riber | Print Article

Fast growing broiler birds have an elevated risk of leg health problems throughinactivity. Increasing the complexity (enriching) of the rearing environment, e.g., adding straw bales into broiler houses, is suggested as a way of increasing activity levels. While a number of studies have examined the impact of enrichments on bird activity levels and health, few have examined their financial impacts. This is problematic, because enrichments which cost money to implement that do not provide an obvious financial benefit are unlikely to be adopted without regulation. This study examines the financial impacts of eight enrichments, accounting for the cost of the enrichment and changes to both bird productivity, e.g., growth rates and market prices. The study found financial benefits from only one of the enrichments (increased distance between feed and water to 3.5 m) and financial losses in most cases, due to the costs of the enrichments. The impacts of the enrichments on bird productivity are relatively minor. The study suggests that if widespread adoption of these enrichments, to obtain welfare benefits, is to be achieved, some form of market incentive will need to be provided, such as a price premium paid by consumers in return for an enhanced rearing environment.

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