Main research question
The poultry industry has been strongly industrialised over the last couple of decades. The challenges to improve animal welfare vary between countries. In this project we are studying and comparing the welfare of broiler chickens that have been produced locally (Flanders) to that of broilers imported to the European market from South Brazil. We are also evaluating the Welfare Quality® protocol that has been developed in Europe to monitor broiler chicken welfare.
Using the Welfare Quality® protocol, we are assessing broiler chicken welfare on 10 random farms in Flanders and 10 farms in South Brazil. The associated abattoirs are also being visited. The assessments are being carried out by a mixed team of both a Flemish and a Brazilian assessor who have been trained to conduct the Welfare Quality® protocol. Both assessors conduct the welfare evaluations simultaneously but independently from each other. These assessments take place on the broiler farm during the last week before slaughter and at the abattoir. The production methods for broilers in Brazil depend on the market area. Therefore, we decided to focus on Brazilian production units that export broiler meat to the European market.
By comparing the welfare status of broilers produced locally in Flanders with those produced in South Brazil but destined for the European market, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the production systems of both countries. This research is relevant for the development of evidence-based marketing strategies for locally-produced versus imported chicken meat.