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Effects of Broiler Production System on Health Care Costs

13 June 2014

A Wageningen University study found differences in health costs between farms in the Netherlands but they were unable to identify any significant effects of the broiler production system on these costs, which were very low compared to other expenses such as feed and chicks.

This Wageningen University study analysed the effects of different broiler production systems on health care costs in the Netherlands. In addition to the conventional production system, the analysis also included five alternative animal welfare systems typical of the country.

In the paper published in Poultry Science, first-named author, É. Gocsik and colleagues explain that their study was limited to the most prevalent and economically relevant endemic diseases in the broiler farms.

Health care costs consisted of losses and expenditures. The study investigated whether higher animal welfare standards increased health care costs, in both absolute and relative terms, and also examined which cost components (losses or expenditures) were affected and, if so, to what extent.

The results show that health care costs represent only a small proportion of total production costs in each production system. Losses account for the major part of health care costs, which makes it difficult to detect the actual effect of diseases on total health care costs.

Although differences in health care costs exist across production systems, Gocsik and colleagues conclude that they only make a minor contribution to the total production costs relative to other costs, such as feed costs and purchase of day-old chicks.


Gocsik E., H.E. Kortes, A.G.J.M. Oude Lansink and H.W. Saatkamp. 2014. Effects of different broiler production systems on health care costs in the Netherlands. Poultry Science. 93:1301-1317. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03614

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June 2014

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