New research into chicken stress
THE peak poultry advocacy body, Australian Eggs launched a research and development plan looking at ways to improve animal welfare and farm outputs.
Hen welfare research has traditionally focused on solving practical issues faced by egg farmers, such as hen behavioural issues and diseases, but this new research will look into stress and psychological welbeing.
Australian Eggs managing director, Rowan McMonnies said the program would look into hen well-being but still maintain the investment in on-farm welfare solutions.
"There is enormous public interest in hen welfare and we need a holistic approach to avoid leaving a knowledge vacuum,” he said.
"Research into on-farm welfare solutions will continue with new projects exploring the causes of smothering and the impact of light intensity on ranging to help farmers manage their flocks.
"What's likely to be more interesting to the broader community is our dual-focus welfare improvement program. Developing new technology to measure stress in hens and identifying values-based elements in animal welfare science are key items in the research plan.
"The new research will look into a better measure chronic stress in hens. There has been a lot of research on the ability of hens to have positive and negative experiences and learning how to measure this will put egg farmers in a better position to improve hen welfare over time.”