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Reducing bird stress & discomfort on the poultry shackle line - MH0138

The Scientific Panel on Animal Health & Welfare of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently reviewed the welfare of food animals at slaughter. They considered the main welfare problems directly associated with poultry shacke lines to be:
1) Compression of the leg bones, fractures & dislocation caused by the force used in shackling;
2) Stress to birds cuased by transporting them suspended by their legs; and
3) Pre-stun shock &/or wing flapping caused by the stun bath entry arrangements.

This project will investigate practical approaches which can be applied to existing shackle lines to directly address these problems. The approaches we propose to test include:
1) Development & testing of a modified shackle design. This will be based on an analysis of the contact between the birds legs & the the shackel, to identify how adequate mechanical & electrial contact can be achieved without the use f high compression forces;
2) The developmetn & testing of a breast support systems to allow the birds to be held in a near horizontal position until the instant before stunning; and
3) Development & testing of a system to ensure a rapid & humaneentry into the stun tank without the use of an entry ramp or dips in the shackle line sincethese can lead to pre-stun shocks & wing flapping.

In the development & testing of these approaches we will be seeking genuine & demonstrable improvements in bird welfare whilst ensuring that our approaches are, as far as possible, compatible with existing equipment so that they can be adopted by industry on a relatively short time scale.

Our proposed solutions will be developed & tested on a small scale commercial poultry slaughter line. Improvements in bird welfare will be assessed in a series of controlled experiments. Once the approaches have been tested & shown to improve bird welfare, the system will be demonstrated to interested parties in industry, & information disseminated to the industry using an interner web site & through publications.

The project will also produce a guide for assessing bird welfare during stunning & a standard operating procedure for teh new equipment.

All of the proposed work will focus on broilers. During the project we will remain aware of the needs of other species and how what we are doing might be relevant to them, however we believe that the extension & testing of these developments with other species is best left to a later project.
1. to identify, develop and construct poultry shackles for testing which minimise leg compression and shackling force yet maintain secure mechanical and electrical contact.
2. to identify, develop and build modifications to a shackle line which avoids inverting and suspending poultry until the moment they enter the stun bath,
3. to identify, develop and build modifications to a shackle line which will rapidly immerse birds, head and neck, into the stunning tank without pre-stun shocks or disturbing the birds in a way which causes wing flapping.
4. to identify a protocol for behavioural observation for assessing bird welfare on the poultry line,
5. to evaluate and test the above developments, their functionality, their compatibility with existing equipment, and their impact on bird welfare.
6. to assess the function of the systems when being used by plant operators.
7. to begin the process of technology transfer by publication of experimental results, demonstration of the system and discussion with the representatives of the industry.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : MH0138 final report   (664k)
• ANX - Annex : MH0138 Appendix 1   (291k)
• ANX - Annex : MH0138 Appendix 2   (237k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2009

Cost: £197,245
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Paul Berry Technical Ltd, The Food Animal Initiative, Silsoe Livestock Systems Ltd
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare