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Animals 2019, 9(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030097

Husbandry Practices, Health, and Welfare Status of Organic Broilers in France

1
ANSES, Epidemiology, Health and Welfare Unit, BP 53, 22440 Ploufragan, France
2
ANSES, Virology, Immunology and Parasitology in Poultry and Rabbits Unit, BP 53, 22440 Ploufragan, France
3
ITAB, 149 rue de Bercy, 75595 Paris, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 February 2019 / Revised: 13 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Poultry Production Systems)
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PDF [255 KB, uploaded 19 March 2019]

Simple Summary

Organic poultry production has grown rapidly in Europe for the past several years in the context of sustainable development within farming. The authors carried out a field study in France between 2014 and 2015 concerning 85 organic broiler flocks that showed a wide diversity of farming management systems from independent farmers set up for direct sales of poultry to farmers under contract with a company for product sales. Health and welfare characteristics did not significantly differ between these two farming systems, except slightly dirtier feathers and more footpad dermatitis on the independent farms, related to the poultry housing conditions in mobile houses. A mortality rate of 2.8% was found, with digestive problems mainly being observed. Better knowledge of husbandry practices, health, and the welfare status of organic poultry is of primary importance to improve the management of organic production and to help in characterizing farming sustainability.

Abstract

Organic poultry production has increased sharply with growing consumer demand in the context of sustainable development. A study was conducted in 85 organic broiler flocks between 2014 and 2015 to describe the husbandry practices and the health and welfare status of organic broilers in France, and to study farming diversity by comparing independent farms (Ind farms, n = 15) with direct sales to farms working with companies (Comp farms, n = 70). Each flock was visited at 3 and 11 weeks of age to collect data on farming conditions, health disorders, and mortality. Welfare notation of 30 broilers per flock and parasitic examination of 5 broilers per flock was also performed. Findings showed significantly different farming management between Ind farms and Comp farms, with smaller flocks on the Ind farms (476 broilers/house vs. 3062 broilers/house, p < 0.01) more frequently in mobile houses. The mean mortality rate was 2.8%, mainly involving digestive disorders. Helminths were detected in 58.8% of the flocks. On average, 21.9% and 5.8% of broilers in a flock had footpad dermatitis and dirty feathers, respectively. The health and welfare characteristics of organic broilers on Ind farms vs. Comp farms were not significantly different, except dirtier feathers and more footpad dermatitis on Ind farms (19.1% vs. 2.9%, p = 0.03 and 39.6% vs. 18.1%, p = 0.02, respectively), associated with poultry housing conditions in mobile houses (p < 0.01). This study provides greater insight into farming sustainability aspects related to the husbandry practices, and the health and welfare of organic broilers in France. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic; broiler; sustainability; husbandry; health; welfare organic; broiler; sustainability; husbandry; health; welfare
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Souillard, R.; Répérant, J.-M.; Experton, C.; Huneau-Salaun, A.; Coton, J.; Balaine, L.; Le Bouquin, S. Husbandry Practices, Health, and Welfare Status of Organic Broilers in France. Animals 2019, 9, 97.

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