Developing new technology to measure stress in hens and identifying values-based elements in animal welfare science are key items in Australian Eggs’ new research and development plan.
Hen welfare research, funded by Australian Eggs, has traditionally focused on solving practical issues faced by egg farmers, such as hen behavioural issues and diseases.
However, the public debate on animal welfare has evolved to include concepts that go beyond the physical condition of hens.
The new research and development program contains a number of projects to improve understanding of hen wellbeing but still maintains the investment in onfarm welfare solutions.
‘‘We want to ensure the industry can take a leadership position on welfare,’’ Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies said.
‘‘Research into on-farm welfare solutions will continue with new projects exploring the causes of smothering and the impact of light intensity on ranging to help farmers manage their flocks.
‘‘What’s likely to be more interesting to the broader community is our dual-focus welfare improvement program.
‘‘The first focus is identifying valuesbased elements arising from hen welfare science for the purpose of further research.
‘‘The second is new research to better measure chronic stress in hens.’’ ■ An overview of the Australian Eggs 2018-19 animal welfare research and development program is available at: www.australianeggs.org.au