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A plea to implement robustness into a breeding goal: poultry as an example

By L. Star, E. D. Ellen, K. Uitdehaag, F. W. A. Brom

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The combination of breeding for increased production and the intensification of housing conditions have resulted in increased occurrence of behavioral, physiological, and immunological disorders. These disorders affect health and welfare of production animals negatively. For future livestock systems, it is important to consider how to manage and breed production animals. In this paper, we will focus on selective breeding of laying hens. Selective breeding should not only be defined in terms of production, but should also include traits related to animal health and welfare. For this we like to introduce the concept of robustness. The concept of robustness includes individual traits of an animal that are relevant for health and welfare. Improving robustness by selective breeding will increase (or restore) the ability of animals to interact successfully with the environment and thereby to make them more able to adapt to an appropriate husbandry system. Application of robustness into a breeding goal will result in animals with improved health and welfare without affecting their integrity. Therefore, in order to be ethically acceptable, selective breeding in animal production should accept robustness as a breeding goal.

Date 2008
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 21
Issue 2
Pages 109-125
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1007/s10806-007-9072-7
Language English
Author Address Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, Wageningen, 6700 AH, Netherlands. Esther.Ellen@wur.nl
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal genetics
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Birds
  6. Breeding
  7. Chickens
  8. Egg production
  9. Ethics
  10. Fowls
  11. Hens
  12. Laying characters
  13. Laying performance
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. performance traits
  16. Poultry
  17. Social psychology and social anthropology
  1. peer-reviewed