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Louton, Helen; Keppler, Christiane; Erhard, Michael; Tuijl, Otto van; Bachmeier, Josef; Damme, Klaus; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791; Rauch, Elke (23. January 2019): Animal-based welfare indicators of 4 slow-growing broiler genotypes for the approval in an animal welfare label program. In: Poulty Science
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For broiler genotypes to be merchandized under the animal welfare label of the German Animal Welfare Federation, several animal-based welfare indicators with upper limits are listed in a criteria catalog. We compared the prevalence of animal-based welfare indicators in 4 slow-growing broiler genotypes [Ranger Classic (RC), Ranger Gold (RG), Rowan Ranger (RoR), and Rambler Ranger (RaR)] in terms of potential approval of these genotypes for a German animal welfare label program. Chicks were housed in 16 floor pens, of which 8 had access to a winter garden. With 4 replications of each genotype, animal-based welfare indicators were assessed in 160 broilers (10 broilers per pen) on fattening days (FD) 36 and 44. The body weight of the 4 broiler genotypes differed on both examination days in decreasing order for RC, RG, RoR, and RaR (P < 0.001). The walking ability was within the scope of the animal welfare label in all genotypes; it was better in genotypes with a lower mean body weight and correlated positively with the body weight in RG, RoR, RaR, and in the pooled data of the 4 genotypes. Hock burns were only observed at a low severity score, with male broilers being affected more often than female broilers. A positive correlation of the development of hock burn with the weight of the broilers was observed on FD 44 when data of all genotypes were pooled. The footpads of all examined broilers were without lesions at both examinations. Skin scratches were observed in all genotypes at both examinations, and RC broilers differed on FD 36 from the other 3 genotypes by showing a higher prevalence of more severe scratches. Broilers of pens with access to a winter garden were affected by skin scratches more often than broilers without. With the exception of weight gain in 2 genotypes, the investigated indicators showed that all genotypes met the requirements of the animal welfare label.