Neiker-Tecnalia inaugurates experimental premises to investigate the behaviour, handling and welfare of production poultry
The Basque Public Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, Neiker-Tecnalia, has inaugurated new experimental premises for poultry aimed at the behaviour and wellbeing of the animals. The line of research, led by Ikerbasque researcher, Ms Inma Estevez, has the main goal of setting out new systems of production which integrate animal health, comfort and welfare with profitability of production systems. The installations are located on the agricultural campus of Arkaute, in the Basque province of Araba-Álava.
The new premises have a 320 m2 aviary with a capacity to house a variable number of animals depending on the species and system of production and have an automated system for the control of environmental conditions and feeding. This installation was designed prioritising versatility and polyvalence in such a manner that a great diversity of types of study can be undertaken. Moreover, the installation has a 120 m2 space given over to stores, offices and a laboratory. The work to be carried out will be directed at researching into novel ways of care which will promote the sustainability of poultry systems, harmonising parameters such as animal welfare, environmental factors and financial profitability. Fundamentally, the research will be aimed at promoting the welfare of the animal and improving the efficiency of the productive systems, both regarding egg-laying by hens as well as for the production of chickens, ducks and turkeys.
The new premises have a 320 m2 aviary with a capacity to house a variable number of animals.
One of the lines of research which the department of animal production will focus on is the space in which the birds have to live together. Neiker-Tecnalia specialists are going to study, amongst other things, how the relation between space and numbers of the animals influences behaviour, wellbeing and productivity. This research work will enable acquiring solid knowledge about the social dynamics of the fowl as a critical factor both in the performance of the batches as well as in their welfare. This knowledge will give rise to new strategies for animal breeding and care which reduces unwanted behaviour. These factors negatively affect the productivity of the birds in a significant manner and, therefore, the reduction and control of such factors are of great interest to breeders.
Spain is one of the main poultry producers within the European Union. This is why Neiker-Tecnalia has set itself the goal of providing a response to the problems confronting the poultry industry and facilitating its adaptation to European norms regarding animal welfare.