• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on welfare aspects of the management and housing of the grand-parent and parent stocks raised and kept for breeding purposes


  • EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare

  • Panel members: Anette Bøtner, Donald Broom, Marcus Doherr, Mariano Domingo, Joerg Hartung, Linda Keeling, Frank Koenen, Simon More, David Morton, Pascal Oltenacu, Albert Osterhaus, Fulvio Salati, Mo Salman, Moez Sanaa, Michael Sharp, Jan Stegeman, Endre Szücs, Hans-Hermann Thulke, Philippe Vannier, John Webster, Martin Wierup
  • Correspondence: AHAW@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on the welfare aspects of management and housing of grand-parent and parent stocks raised and kept for breeding purposes: Joerg Hartung (Panel member, Chair), Linda Keeling (Panel member, Rapporteur), Georgios Banos, Charlotte Berg, Ingrid de Jong, Virginie Michel and the members of the Working Group on the influence of genetic parameters on the welfare and the resistance to stress of commercial broilers: David Morton (Panel member, Chair), Toni Oltenacu (Panel member, Rapporteur), Cécile Arnould, Lisa Collins, Paul Hocking, Elizabeth Le Bihan-Duval and Poul Sørensen for the preparation of this opinion. The Panel wishes to thank EFSA's staff members Franck Berthe, Milen Georgiev and Tomasz Grudnik for the support provided to this EFSA scientific output
  • Adoption date: 24 June 2010
  • Published date: 28 July 2010
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2009-00505
  • On request from: European Commission


This scientific opinion describes welfare aspects of the management and housing of the grand-parent and parent stocks (broiler breeders) raised and kept for breeding purposes in EU member states. The health and welfare consequences were reviewed and a risk assessment on the impact of housing and management on the welfare of broiler breeders, including the influence of genetic selection for fast growth, was carried out. Quantitative data on the different types of husbandry and management systems used in Europe is lacking. In the risk assessment process, the overall top five hazards according to risk scores were barren environments, high stocking density, fast growth rate, feed restriction and low light intensity. These varied slightly when the rearing-laying periods, males-females, and fast-slow growing birds were each analysed separately. It is recommended that birds requiring less feed restriction should be selected as future breeders even if this may involve reduced selected pressure on high growth rates. To track improvements over time, the degree of feed restriction required to maintain broiler breeder target weights should be monitored. It is recommended that the prevalence and effectiveness of different types of mutilations is collected and that no mutilation with an effect on welfare as severe as those resulting from cutting off toes or dubbing the comb should be carried out unless justified by evidence for a substantial and unavoidable level of poor welfare in the birds themselves and other birds. Furthermore it was recommended that animal-based welfare outcome indicators for use during monitoring or inspection of breeder stocks, as well as for monitoring trends over time should be developed.