The numbers of poultry handled, transported and slaughtered is greater than any other livestock. The FAO estimate of poultry-meat production for 2012 is 106 million tonnes, 87% of which is from some 50 billion broilers. Laying hen numbers are about 6,400 million (Watt, 2011). It is common for production sites to place hundreds of thousands of chicks or pullets within 2-3 days, and to depopulate for slaughter equally swiftly. All birds are handled and transported at least twice.
After a productive year, hens are caught and transported to the slaughterhouse. End-of-lay hens are generally purchased ‘off farm’. Their economic value has increased slightly as markets, especially in Africa, develop. This has improved the care taken in handling and the investment in transport systems in some countries. Gradually the modular systems such as Anglia Autoflow and gas stunning are replacing loose crates handling and waterbath stunning. Many types of vehicle are used, but dedicated trucks with side curtains are increasingly common.
- Watt Executive Guide to World Poultry Trends (2011) www.wattagnet.net (accessed Aug 2012)