Vinco, L. J., Archetti, I. L., Giacomelli, S. et al. 2016. Influence of crate height on the welfare of broilers during transport. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 14, 28-33.
Poultry transport systems are currently under investigation with a particular focus on design and dimensions of commercially available transport crates. The height of the crates currently used is debated and considered by some parties to be insufficient to fulfill animal welfare needs. The opposing view is that the welfare of birds transported in higher crates is even worst. The European Food Safety Authority highlighted the lack of scientific evidence supporting recommendations on the height of crates used for poultry transportation. To fill this gap and provide scientific knowledge on the effect of crate height on the welfare of poultry during transport, a field trial was carried out on a commercial journey of 2,618 broilers, comparing the welfare of birds transported in commercial crates with that of others transported in crates of doubled height. Animal welfare was evaluated through the use of animal-based parameters, such as behavior, physiologic variables, dead on arrivals, and postmortem lesions observed at slaughter. None of the parameters assessed proved advantages of the higher crates over those currently used. On the other hand, several parameters underlined favorable aspects of current crates toward the modified ones. Although based on the results of 1 single test, it appears from this trial that the suggestion to replace the transport crates commercially in use at present with crates doubled in height is not supported by improvements in animal welfare. On the contrary, this replacement would have a negative effect on the welfare of broilers during transport.