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Negative Trends in Transport-related Mortality Rates in Broiler Chickens

  • Vecerek, Vladimir ;
  • Voslarova, Eva ;
  • Conte, Francesca ;
  • Vecerkova, Lenka ;
  • Bedanova, Iveta
  • Received : 2015.12.04
  • Accepted : 2016.01.12
  • Published : 2016.12.01

Abstract

The high incidence of deaths during transport for slaughter is associated with poor welfare and represents a considerable loss to the poultry industry. In the period from 2009 to 2014, all shipments of broiler chickens to poultry processing plants were monitored in the Czech Republic and the numbers of chickens transported and those dying as a result of their transport were recorded and analysed. Overall transport-related mortality of broiler chickens transported for slaughter in the Czech Republic was 0.37%. It ranged from 0.31% to 0.72%, the increase approximately corresponding to the increasing transport distance. Statistically highly significant (p<0.001) differences were found when comparing transport-related mortality rates in individual seasons of the year. The greatest mortality (0.55%) was associated with transports carried out in winter months whereas the lowest death losses (0.30%) were found in chickens transported for slaughter in summer months. Our study revealed greater transport-related mortality rates in broiler chickens transported for slaughter in the Czech Republic than expected when considering earlier studies. The most pronounced increases were found in transports for shorter distances and in winter months. However, an increase was found at all transport distances monitored except for distances exceeding 300 km and all seasons except for summer. Furthermore, a general increasing tendency in chicken losses during the monitored period was found. The particularly alarming finding is that the mortality of broiler chickens being transported to processing plants has been showing a long-term increasing tendency over the last two decades. Further research should focus on the identification of specific factors leading to such high and growing mortality rates and developing practical guidelines to improve the welfare of the birds in transit accordingly.

Keywords

Mortality;Poultry;Transport;Distance;Season;Welfare

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