Research Boost for Broiler Transportation to Slaughter

DENMARK - Scientists and private enterprises in Denmark have joined forces to improve the transportation of broilers to the slaughterhouse.
calendar icon 8 October 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

This is expected to be a boost for animal welfare, the environment and food quality – and will save the poultry industry 40m DKK (Danish Krone).

The last ride in the life of a broiler to the slaughterhouse can vary greatly depending on the weather.

A new concept from Linco Food Systems is attempting to do something about this, while scientists from Aarhus University will be validating the physiological effects of the system on the chickens. With support from the Green Development and Demonstration Programme, Linco Food Systems and Aarhus University have teamed up to develop a new climate-controlled transport system.

With air-conditioning during transport, the chickens would get a much more comfortable ride. This will improve their welfare, reduce stress levels and make the transport more efficient.

The project partners expect the new system to provide added value and cost savings of about 40 DKK per broiler, corresponding to a saving of 40m DKK for the Danish poultry industry as a whole.

Modular design with climate control

As things are now, chickens are carried in crates that are stacked in racks on a truck. The boxes usually have perforated sides and bottom to ensure some ventilation. The load is ventilated purely by natural air movements, and thus depends on the wind conditions and vehicle speed.

This type of transport system does not allow the temperature and humidity to which the chickens are exposed to be controlled in the time it takes to drive them to the slaughterhouse.

The system is designed to be used in many countries, and in countries outside Denmark chickens will in some instances be left in the non-climate-controlled crates when arriving at the slaughterhouse since many slaughterhouses abroad do not have special housing for chickens.

The research project will develop a new climate-controlled transport system that is efficient and optimises animal welfare.

Environment, animal welfare and the economy all benefit

The design of the transport crates and the climate control system mean that the space in the truck is used optimally since the animal density does not depend on the outdoor temperature.

The more efficient use of space means that transportation can be reduced by 36 per cent, equivalent to 1.0 to 1.5 million km by truck and a reduction in emissions of 1000-1500 t CO2 per year.

The broilers and consumers will also benefit directly from the new system. Project participants expect the mortality during transport to fall by 30 per cent – from 0.3 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

When the chickens are exposed to stress this can affect the quality of their meat where the meat becomes pale, soft and exudative. This is the so-called PSE meat. Project partners expect that the incidence of PSE meat will be halved from the current 30 per cent (estimated average of relevant markets) to 15 per cent.

Partners in the project are Linco Food Systems, who will be leading the project, Aarhus University, the food enterprise HKScan Denmark and SEGES Organic farming. Scientists from Aarhus University will, among other things, undertake studies on physiology and meat quality.

The three-year project has received a 7m DKK grant from the Green Development and Demonstration Programme under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries.

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