5.1 Feed withdrawal

Regulations on feed withdrawal prior to transport and slaughter of end-of-lay hens

An inventory of available (mainly EU) regulations on feed withdrawal prior to transport and slaughter of laying hens indicated that no legal requirements appear to exist as to how long layers may be deprived of food prior to slaughter.

However, for broilers EC Directive 2007/43/EC prescribes that chickens kept for meat production should not be deprived of food for more than 12 hours before the expected time of slaughter.

Feed withdrawal in practice

In the Netherlands, Nepluvi, the Dutch Poultry Processing Industry Association, recommends a withdrawal period of a maximum of 24 hours (Welfare Code for Poultry Slaughter Plants, Art. 6 Vo 1099/2009). These are recommendations for good management practice to fulfil the requirements of Article 13 of EC Directive 1099_2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing.

Codes of Practice in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recommend that ‘feed, but not water, may be withheld for up to 12 hours prior to slaughter’ including ‘the catching, loading, transport, lairaging and unloading time’.

The Animal Welfare Approved label in the US requires that end-of-lay laying hens should not be deprived of food for more than 8 hours unless birds are crated overnight and go directly to slaughter in the morning, in which case feed withdrawal may exceed eight hours (Art. 13.4.5).

In the UK, the RSPCA Welfare Standards for Laying Hens (applied through the RSPCA Assured scheme), limit feed withdrawal periods to a maximum of 12 hours prior to slaughter.

Summary of EC regulations :

 

  1. COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations specified under TECHNICAL RULES, CHAPTER III TRANSPORT PRACTICES that:

Where loading or unloading operations last for more than four hours, except for poultry: (a) appropriate facilities shall be available in order to keep, feed and water the animals outside the means of transport without being tied;

And under CHAPTER V WATERING AND FEEDING INTERVAL, JOURNEY TIMES AND RESTING PERIODS that

2.1. For poultry, domestic birds and domestic rabbits, suitable food and water shall be available in adequate quantities, save in the case of a journey lasting less than:

(a) 12 hours disregarding loading and unloading time; or

(b) 24 hours for chicks of all species, provided that it is completed within 72 hours after hatching.

 

  1. COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing specifies in CHAPTER II GENERAL REQUIREMENTS in Article 3 General requirements for killing and related operations that business operators shall, in particular, take the necessary measures to ensure that animals:

(e) do not suffer from prolonged withdrawal of feed or water;

In addition, ANNEX II LAYOUT, CONSTRUCTION AND EQUIPMENT OF SLAUGHTERHOUSES (as referred to in Article 14, section 2.3) specifies that:

The water supply system in pens shall be designed, constructed and maintained so as to allow all animals at all times access to clean water without being injured or limited in their movements.

In addition, ANNEX III OPERATIONAL RULES FOR SLAUGHTERHOUSES (as referred to in Article 15) specifies that

1.2. … Animals which have not been slaughtered within 12 hours of their arrival shall be fed, and subsequently given moderate amounts of food at appropriate intervals. ….

1.5. For the purpose of slaughter, unweaned animals, lactating dairy animals, females having given birth during the journey or animals delivered in containers shall be given priority over other types of animal. If this is not possible, arrangements shall be made so as to relieve them from their suffering, in particular by:

(c) providing water in the case of animals delivered in containers

 

  1. COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 2007/43/EC of 28 June 2007 laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production specifies in ANNEX I REQUIREMENTS APPLICABLE TO HOLDINGS (under Feeding 2) that:

Feed shall be either continuously available or be meal fed and must not be withdrawn from chickens more than 12 hours before the expected slaughter time.

 

  1. COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes specifies in the Annex under Feed, water and other substances that:
  2. Animals must be fed a wholesome diet which is appropriate to their age and species and which is fed to them in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health and satisfy their nutritional needs. No animal shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner, nor shall such food or liquid contain any substance, which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury.
  3. All animals must have access to feed at intervals appropriate to their physiological needs.

16. All animals must have access to a suitable water supply or be able to satisfy their fluid intake needs by other means.

 

Back to:
What is end-of-lay?
Farm management risk factors for end-of-lay.
Treament

6. Importance

Economics

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.

Further reading

  • Watt Executive Guide to World Poultry Trends (2011) www.wattagnet.net (accessed Aug 2012)

 

 

7. Further reading

Further reading (by section by language)
* English
* Czech
* Nederlands
Further reading (by language in alphabetical order)
.

Further reading by language

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English

General

  • Déborah Temple, Thea van Niekerk, Claire Weeks, Xavier Manteca, 2017. Guidelines end of lay. Hennovation (24 pp).

What is end of lay?

  • Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97.
  • Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.

Signs

Mechanism

Mortality

Pain

  • Sandilands, V., Sparks, N., Wilson, S. and Nevison, I. (2005) Laying hens at depopulation: the impact of the production system on bird welfare. British Poultry Abstracts, 1, 23-24.

Climatic stress

  • Hunter, R.R., Mitchell, M.A. and Matheu, C. (1997) Distribution of ‘dead on arrivals’ within the bio-load on commercial broiler transporters: correlation with climatic conditions and ventilation regimen. British Poultry Science 38, S7-S9.
  • Kettlewell, P., Mitchell, M. and Meehan, A. (1993) The distribution of thermal loads within poultry transport vehicles. Agricultural Engineer 48, 26-30.
  • Richards, G.J., Wilkins, L.J., Weeks, C.A., Knowles, T.G. and Brown, S.N. (2012) Evaluation of the microclimate in poultry transport module drawers during the marketing process of end of lay hens from farm to slaughter. Veterinary Record, in press

Fear

  • Kolb, E. and Seehawer, J. (2001) Significance and application of ascorbic acid in poultry. Archiv fur Gerflugelkunde, 65, 106-113.

Risk factors

On-farm management: Catching methods

  • Knowles, T.G. and Broom, B.M. (1993) Effect of catching method on the concentration of plasma corticosterone in end-of-lay battery hens. Veterinary Record 133, 527-528.

Transport (general)

Transport: Number of birds/crate

Transport: Vibrations

  • Kettlewell, P., Mitchell, M. and Meehan, A. (1993) The distribution of thermal loads within poultry transport vehicles. Agricultural Engineer 48, 26-30.
  • Richards, G.J., Wilkins, L.J., Weeks, C.A., Knowles, T.G. and Brown, S.N. (2012) Evaluation of the microclimate in poultry transport module drawers during the marketing process of end of lay hens from farm to slaughter. Veterinary Record, in press

Transport: Facilities

  • Newberry R.C., Webster A.B., Lewis N.J. and Van Arnam C. (1999) Management of spent hens. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2, 13–29.
  • Richards, G.J., Wilkins, L.J., Weeks, C.A., Knowles, T.G. and Brown, S.N. (2012) Evaluation of the microclimate in poultry transport module drawers during the marketing process of end of lay hens from farm to slaughter. Veterinary Record, in press

Transport: Climate during transport

At the slaughter plant: Post transport handling and environment

  • Lines, J.A., Jones, T.A., Berry, P.S., Spence, J., and Schofield, C.R. (2011) Evaluation of breast support conveyor to improve poultry welfare on the shackle line, Veterinary Record, 168:129.

At the slaughter plant: Shackling and stunning

Treatment

Importance

  • Watt Executive Guide to World Poultry Trends (2011) www.wattagnet.net (accessed Aug 2012)

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Czech

Mechanism

Mortality

  • Voslarova, E., Janackova, B., Vecerek, V. and Malena, M. (2007) Počty uhynulých slepic a kohoutů při přepravě na porážku v letech 1997 až 2006 (Numbers of hens and roosters that died during transport to slaughter from 1997 to 2006). In Ochrana zvířat a welfare Conference Proceedings. Brno: VFU Brno, pp. 186-188.
  • Voslarova, E. and Vecerek, V. (2015) Vliv vzdálenosti a ročního období na úhyn brojlerů a nosnic při přepravě na porážku. (Impact of transport distance and season on mortality of broiler chickens and laying hens transported for slaughter). In Drůbež 2015 Conference Proceedings, Brno: VFU Brno, pp. 11. (abstract)

.

Nederlands

.

Further reading (by language in alphabetical order)

English

  • Baker, C.J., Dalley, S., Yang, X., Kettlewell, P., and Hoxey, R. (1996) An investigation of the aerodynamic and ventilation characteristics of poultry transport vehicles. 2. Wind tunnel experiments. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research 65, 97-113.
  • Bayliss, P.A. and Hinton, M.H. (1990) Transportation of poultry with special reference to mortality rates. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 28, 93-118.
  • Broom, D.M. (2005) The effects of land transport on animal welfare. Revue Scientifique Et Technique-Office International Des Epizooties 24 (2), 683-691.
  • Burlinguette, N.A., M.L. Strawford, J.M. Watts, H.L. Classen, P.J. Shand and T.G. Crowe. (2012) Broiler trailer thermal conditions during cold climate transport. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 92, 109-122. doi:10.4141/cjas2011-027
  • Chauvin C., Hillion, S., Balaine, L., Michel, V., Peraste, J., Petetin, I., Lupo, C., Le Bouquin, S. (2011) Factors associated with mortality of broilers during transport to slaughterhouse. Animal, 5 , 2, 287-293. DOI: 10.1017/S1751731110001916
  • Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97.
  • EFSA (2011) Scientific opinion concerning the welfare of animals during transport. EFSA Journal, 9(1), 1966 [125 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.1966
  • Delezie, E., Swennen, Q., Buyse, J. and Decuypere, E. (2007) The effect of feed withdrawal and crating density in transit on metabolism and meat quality of broilers at slaughter weight. Poultry Science, 86, 1414-1423.
  • Filho, J.A.D.B., Vieira, F.M.C., Fonseca, B.H.F., Silva, I.J.O., Garcia, D.B., and Hildebrand, A. (2008) Poultry transport microclimate analysis through enthalpy comfort index (ECI): a seasonal assessment. Livestock Environment VIII, 639-643.
  • Hemsworth, P.H. (2003) Human-animal interactions in livestock production. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 81(3), 185-198.
  • Hoen, T and Lankhaar, J. (1999) Controlled atmosphere stunning of poultry. Poultry Science 78 (2), 287-289.
  • Hoxey, R.P., Kettlewell, P.J., Meehan, A.M., Baker, C.J. and Yang, X. (1996) An investigation of the aerodynamic and ventilation characteristics of poultry transport vehicles. I. Full-scale measurements. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research 65, 77-83.
  • Hunter, R.R., Mitchell, M.A. and Matheu, C. (1997) Distribution of ‘dead on arrivals’ within the bio-load on commercial broiler transporters: correlation with climatic conditions and ventilation regimen. British Poultry Science 38, S7-S9.
  • Jones, R.B. (1992) The nature of handling immediately prior to test affects tonic immobility fear reactions in laying hens and broilers. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 34, 247-254.
  • Kettlewell, P., Mitchell, M. and Meehan, A. (1993) The distribution of thermal loads within poultry transport vehicles. Agricultural Engineer 48, 26-30.
  • Kettlewell, P.J., Hoxey, R.P. and Mitchell, M.A. (2000) Heat produced by broiler chickens in a commercial transport vehicle. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, 75, 315-326.
  • Knezacek, T.D., Olkowski, A.A., Kettlewell, P.J., Mitchel, M.A., and Classen, H.L. (2010) Temperature gradients in trailers and changes in broiler rectal and core body temperature during winter transportation in Saskatchewa, Canadian Journal of Animal Sciences, DO110.4141/CJAsopo83.
  • Knowles, T.G. and Broom, B.M. (1993) Effect of catching method on the concentration of plasma corticosterone in end-of-lay battery hens. Veterinary Record 133, 527-528.
  • Kolb, E. and Seehawer, J. (2001) Significance and application of ascorbic acid in poultry. Archiv fur Gerflugelkunde, 65, 106-113.
  • Lee, K.M. (2001) Design criteria for developing an automated live-bird transfer system. IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, 17(4), 483-490.
  • Lines, J.A., Jones, T.A., Berry, P.S., Spence, J., and Schofield, C.R. (2011) Evaluation of breast support conveyor to improve poultry welfare on the shackle line, Veterinary Record, 168:129.
  • MacCaluim, J.M., Abeyesinghe, S.M., White, R.P. and Wathes, C.M. (2003) A continuous-choice assessment of the domestic fowl’s aversion to concurrent transport stressors. Animal Welfare, 12, 95-107.
  • Mitchell, M.A. and Kettlewell, P.J. (1998) Physiological stress and welfare of broiler chickens in transit: solutions, not problems! Poultry Science 77, 1803-1814.
  • Mitchell, M.A., Kettlewell, P.J. and Maxwell, M.H. (1992) Indicators of physiological stress in broiler chickens during road transportation. Animal Welfare 1, 92-103.
  • Newberry R.C., Webster A.B., Lewis N.J. and Van Arnam C. (1999) Management of spent hens. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2, 13–29.
  • Petracci, M., Bianchi, M., Cavani. C., Gaspari, P. and Lavazza, A. (2006) Preslaughter mortality in broiler chickens, turkeys and spent hens under commercial slaughtering. Poultry Science,85, 1660-1664.
  • Raj, A.B.M., Wilkins, L.J., Richardson, R.I., Johnson, S.P. and Wotton, S.B. (1997) Carcase and meat quality in broilers either killed with a gas mixture or stunned with an electric current under commercial processing conditions. British Poultry Science 38, 169-174.
  • Randall, J.M., Duggan, J.A., Alami, M.A. and White, R.P. (1997) Frequency weightings for the aversion of broiler chickens to horizontal and vertical vibration. Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, 68, 387-397.
  • Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
  • Richards, G.J., Wilkins, L.J., Weeks, C.A., Knowles, T.G. and Brown, S.N. (2012) Evaluation of the microclimate in poultry transport module drawers during the marketing process of end of lay hens from farm to slaughter. Veterinary Record, in press
  • Ritz, C.W. Webster, A.B. and Czarick, M. (2005) Evaluation of hot weather and incidence of mortality associated with broiler live haul. Journal of Applied Poultry Reseach, 14(3), 594-602.
  • Sandilands, V., Sparks, N., Wilson, S. and Nevison, I. (2005) Laying hens at depopulation: the impact of the production system on bird welfare. British Poultry Abstracts, 1, 23-24.
  • Sparrey J.M., Kettlewell P.J. (1994) Shackling Of Poultry – Is It A Welfare Problem? Worlds’ Poultry Science Journal 50, 167-176.
  • Tinker, D., Berry, P., White, R., Prescott, N., Welch, S. and Lankhaar., J. (2005) Improvement in the welfare of broilers by changes to a mechanical unloading system. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 14 (2), 330-337.
  • Vecerek, V.; Grbalova, S.; Voslarova, E.; Janackova, B.; Malena, M. (2006) Effects of travel distance and the season of the year on death rates of broilers transported to poultry processing plants. Poultry Science, 85, 1881-1884.
  • Warriss, P.D., Bevis, E.A., Brown, S.N. and Edwards, J.E. (1992a) Longer journeys to processing plants are associated with higher mortality in broiler chickens. British Poultry Science 33, 201-206.
  • Watt Executive Guide to World Poultry Trends (2011) www.wattagnet.net (accessed Aug 2012)
  • Webster, A.J.F, Tuddenham, A., Saville, C.A. and Scott, G.A. (1992) Thermal Stress on Chickens in Transit. British Poultry Science, 34, 267-277.
  • Weeks, C.A., Webster, A.J.F. and Wyld, H.M. (1997) Vehicle design and thermal comfort of poultry in transit. British Poultry Science, 38, 464-474.
  • Zulkifli, I., Norma, M.T.C., Chong, C.H and Loh, T.C. (2000) Heterophil to lymphocyte ratio and tonic immobility reactions to preslaughter handling in broiler chickens treated with ascorbic acid. Poultry Science, 79, 402-406.

Czech

  • Voslarova, E., Janackova, B., Vecerek, V. and Malena, M. (2007) Počty uhynulých slepic a kohoutů při přepravě na porážku v letech 1997 až 2006 (Numbers of hens and roosters that died during transport to slaughter from 1997 to 2006). In Ochrana zvířat a welfare Conference Proceedings. Brno: VFU Brno, pp. 186-188.
  • Voslarova, E. and Vecerek, V. (2015) Vývoj úhynů nosnic při přepravě na jatky v ČR v období let 1997 – 2014. (Mortality of laying hens in association with their transport for slaughter in the period from 1997 to 2014). In Ochrana zvířat a welfare Conference Proceedings. Brno: VFU Brno, pp. 188-191.
  • Voslarova, E. and Vecerek, V. (2015) Vliv vzdálenosti a ročního období na úhyn brojlerů a nosnic při přepravě na porážku. (Impact of transport distance and season on mortality of broiler chickens and laying hens transported for slaughter). In Drůbež 2015 Conference Proceedings, Brno: VFU Brno, pp. 11. (abstract)

Nederlands