View graph of relations


Main research question/goal
What is the ideal slaughter weight of broilers (from the perspective of the farmer, the slaughterhouse and the market)? And which targeted system choices, such as the possible separation of fattening hens and cockerels, can optimise slaughter weight? The intention of these research questions is to influence the wider context of higher economic sustainability - a stable return-on-investment by accurately adjusting the input-output relationship - and improved animal welfare. During the past 30 years, the growth rate of broilers has doubled due to an extensive selection for growth and feed conversion and improved knowledge of nutrient demands. But in practice, broilers are slaughtered at 6 weeks of age. This is not always the most strategic choice because, for instance, hens and roosters follow a different growth trajectory. Poultry farmers remain eager to get as much weight as possible from broiler chicks (kg/m²) because they are paid per kilogram of live weight. The purpose of this research is to achieve smarter system choices  based on economic (optimum) calculations and comparative growth experiments.

Research approach
Agricultural economists and ILVO animal science researchers work together to detect the key factors that have a major impact on the choice of management. An optimisation of such factor(s), and tests with alternative approaches, should result in increased output. One of the hypotheses to test both empirically economically is whether or not separated fattening of males and females, following the – expensive - procedure of sexing of day-old chicks. At the end of the fattening cycle, the hens show poor feed conversion. We develop economic models around this problem and record the effects on animal and environment.

The results of this study give poultry farmers a framework that can help to choose for new but better studied system choices. They have a view on the impact of each alternative approach in terms of socio-economic, environmental and welfare aspects of the farm.

Funding provider(s)
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek

External partner(s)
Effective start/end date1/07/13 → …

ID: 4145271