Meyer, M. M., Johnson, A. K., Bobeck, E. A. 2020. Development and validation of broiler welfare assessment methods for research and on-farm audits. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 23(4), 433-446.
Required auditing of on-farm broiler welfare in the United States has increased; however, a lack of validated tools exists for assessment of enrichment. National Chicken Council (NCC) guidelines were used on a subset of 300 Ross 308 broilers out of 1200 to validate and adapt welfare measures. Half of the broilers were exposed to environmental enrichment, hence these measures were used to evaluate the enrichment within the context of behavior and welfare, although the nature of the enrichment is not described in detail here as the aim is to serve solely as a description and validation of methods using a subset of example data. Birds were recorded in repeated 4-min periods to quantify behavior and walking distance. Outcomes were categorized to improve auditing and make recommendations to producers and researchers. Bone mineral density, content, and breaking strength were successful in determining numerical differences. Quantifying lameness using an enclosed walkway and measuring footpad dermatitis weekly are recommended on-farm. We recommend including additional measures not required by the NCC: monitoring breast condition in the flock and including a behavior component with a scoring ethogram.