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Developing a welfare assessment system for use in commercial organic egg production

By L. Hegelund, J. T. Sorensen, N. F. Johansen

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A welfare assessment system is being developed for commercial organic egg production based on indicators of behaviour, health, system, and management, which is the general Danish Institute for Agricultural Science (DIAS) concept for assessing animal welfare at farm level. The welfare assessment system works as an advisory tool for farmers, helping them to improve welfare in their flocks. Identification of individual animals in organic egg production is impossible; therefore, management and welfare assessment are based on flock evaluation. Mortality is often a major welfare problem in organic egg production, to some extent caused by inefficient disease detection and control. Health indicators are therefore closely monitored, including variations in liveweight, mortality, food and water consumption, and autopsies. Severe outbreaks of feather pecking and cannibalism causing excess mortality are often induced by the presence of stressors. Various stressors, as well as indicators of stress, are therefore included in the welfare indicator protocol. Finally the daily management effort and routines are evaluated on the basis of a management plan prepared by the farmer and a consultant in cooperation, as well as by use of interviews.

Date 2003
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 12
Issue 4
Pages 649-653
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS), PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal production
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Assessment
  8. Birds
  9. Chickens
  10. Denmark
  11. Developed countries
  12. Ecological agriculture
  13. Egg production
  14. Europe
  15. Factors of production
  16. Fowls
  17. Methodologies
  18. monitoring
  19. OECD countries
  20. organic culture
  21. organic farming
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. Poultry
  24. Production
  25. Scandinavia
  26. surveillance
  1. peer-reviewed