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Introduction

As the proportion of organic farmers is still small scale in Sweden, the only available broiler strain to use in organic chicken meat production, up until now, has been conventional fast growing broiler hybrids which are bred to produce a lot of meat in a short period of time resulting in increased  incidence of skeletal disease, which commonly is expressed in difficulty walking  but also as paralysis. 

According to KRAV the mean growth rate for organic chicken cannot exceed 50 g per day, a goal that today cannot be achieved using conventional broilers, such as Ross 308, that have an average daily growth rate of 61 g when fed ad libitum. The demand for a longer rearing period in organic production, together with having a fast growth rate, prove difficult to meet for the conventional broiler, who needs some kind of feed restriction to slow down its growth rate. This combination of a longer rearing period and a forced slower growth rate results in different welfare problems for the fast growing broiler. 

Rowan Ranger is a broiler strain that has a naturally slower growth rate than the conventional fast growing broiler hybrid Ross 308 and  seem to be the answer to the organic chicken industry’s needs. Therefore it is interesting to actually test and evaluate if this is indeed the truth, something this study set out to do with a series of test regarding behaviour and stress. It would be presumed that using a slow growing strain in organic production will improve animal welfare, an aspect that is of growing concern among consumers as awareness of product quality increases. 

Aim

The aim for this study was to compare behaviours and activity level between the fast growing broiler hybrid Ross 308 to the naturally slow growing broiler Rowan Ranger in an organic setting.

The hypothesis is (1) that the two strains will perform the same type of behaviours but with different time budgets,  and (2) that Ross 308 has a higher activity level than Rowan Rangers. 


Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/03/16