Evaluation of Free-Range broilers using the welfare quality® protocol


Rev. Bras. Cienc. Avic.




Scientific information on the welfare of broilers reared in alternative systems is scarce. The objective of this study was to assess the welfare of free-range broilers using the Welfare Quality® protocol. Free-range broilers reared in ten farms were observed, and measures were made in broilers of five of these farms. The collected data were transformed into scores (0-100), with higher scores indicating better welfare, except for emotional states. Prevalence percentages were calculated for the remaining data. Median (min-max) scores were 81 (63-98) for lameness, 93 (83-99) for hock burn on the farm, 100 (95-100) for plumage cleanliness, 35 (8-70) for podermatitis on the farm, 56 (26-88) for density, 53 (20-53) for dust, 34 (14-67) for litter quality, 93 (41-100) for drinkers, and 100 (100-100) for birds panting or huddling on the farm. The following average (min-max) prevalence percentages were obtained: total mortality 2.0% (1.4-7.2%), culling 0.0% (0.0-2.2%), feed withdrawal time 875 min (715-945 min), water withdrawal time 220 min (170-275 min), dead on arrival at the processing plant 0.00% (0.00-0.01%), broken wings 0%, (0-0%), inefficient stunning 3.9% (1.3-6.7%), pre-stun shock 49.3% (26.7-56.8%), hepatitis 4.5% (1.8-11.0%), bruising 9.3% (6.7-16.7%), and ascites 0% (0-0%). The negative broiler welfare points detected were pododermatitis, litter quality, density, dust, culling, feed withdrawal time, inefficient stunning, pre-stun shock, and hepatitis. The positive points identified were the absence of birds panting or huddling on the farm; low prevalence of lameness, hock lesions, dead on arrival, broken wings, and ascites; good plumage cleanliness scores, and short water withdrawal time.

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