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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Turkey welfare indicators for improved animal welfare, health and sustainable food production

Alternative title: KALKU-LATOR: Kalkunvelferdsindikatorer for bedre dyrevelferd, dyrehelse og økt bærekraftig verdiskapning i norsk kalkunproduksjon

Awarded: NOK 2.6 mill.

The Norwegian turkey industry faces challenges related to increasing production efficiency while simultaneously meeting consumer demands for good animal health and welfare. The project TURKEY-LATOR is a response to the Norwegian turkey industrys urgent need for scientific knowledge about turkey welfare as a basis for developing an Animal Welfare Program (AWP). We use an industry- academia approach to identify turkey welfare challenges, valid, reliable and feasible welfare-indicators and best practice management strategies for better turkey welfare. In the project so far, 3 scientific articles have been published. To shed light on the animal welfare situation in Norwegian turkey herds, we have carried out welfare registrations using the «transect walk» method in 20 herds, in both hens and roosters at 11 weeks of age. The most common welfare challenges identified with this method were animals with featherless areas, and sores on the wings. Then came dirty animals and wounds on the head. We found differences between roosters and hens, where the roosters were on average more dirty, more often had skin lesions and displayed more lamess compared to the hens of the same age. The results are published in Poultry Science (2019). We have also analyzed transect walk results in hens and roosters and seen these in connection with slaughterhouse registrations. These are, for example, footpad damage, skin lesions, air sacculitis, carcass weight and carcass downgrading. Slaughter data and herd observations showed good agreement for several of the indicators, both in measurements of hens immediately before slaughter (Poultry Science 2020a) and for roosters it turned out that welfare problems discovered in the herd at 11 weeks of age were also reflected by slaughter data several weeks later (Poultry Science 2020b). Furthermore, we have now gained access to slaughter lists from "all" herds in recent years to provide an overview of welfare status based on slaughter data as well as epidemiological analysis of risk factors. This work has now begun. The work of investigating "best practice" factors through interviews with turkey producers is in the planning phase and has been delayed due to the corona situation. We place great emphasis on continuous dissemination to producers and industry and have so far published seven popular science articles in the producer journals Fjørfe and Go-Mørning and have presented the project at several producer meetings. An abstract was submitted for a presentation at the World Poultry Science conference in Paris 2020, but this has been postponed until 2021 due to the corona situation.

The Norwegian turkey industry faces challenges related to increasing production efficiency while simultaneously meeting consumer demands for good animal health and welfare. The project TURKEY-LATOR is a response to the Norwegian turkey industrys urgent need for scientific knowledge about turkey welfare as a basis for developing an Animal Welfare Program (AWP). We will use an industry- academia approach to identify turkey welfare challenges, valid, reliable and feasible welfare-indicators and best practice management strategies for better turkey welfare. Welfare challenges will be identified based on investigations of prevalence and risk factors associated with relevant slaughterhouse data (e.g. footpad dermatitis, skin lesions, air sacculitis, carcass characteristics, downgrading and condemnation) and welfare issues on farm as assessed by the transect walk method. Welfare indicators will be chosen based on correlation analysis between transect-walk measures and slaughterhouse data and evaluation of the feasibility and potential for improvement of recordings as a basis for the novel AWP. Focus group discussions will be organized to identify best practice management factors. Focus group discussion will be followed-up with individual interviews in order to elicit individual beliefs and motivational factors associated with turkey welfare. Results will be disseminated through a continuous dialogue with the industrys AWP project group, and to producers, the scientific community, relevant authorities and the common public. If the industry uses the acquired knowledge as basis for an AWP for turkeys and for optimizing management strategies, the reduced incidence of wounds, reduced carcass downgrading and condemnation, and increased carcass quality, will contribute to improved animal welfare, increased sustainability, production efficiency and economy in the Norwegian turkey production.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri