Using conjoint analysis to weight broiler welfare variables based on slaughterhouse data

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2012;15(1):70-9. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2011.600666.


The Council of the European Union adopted the welfare directive for broiler chickens in 2007 (Commission of the European Communities, 2007). The directive defines minimum demands and objectives for broiler production ranging from stocking density to welfare. This study found that the level of nonhuman animal welfare can be determined, for example, with welfare indexes that have different weight values for welfare variables. A total of 20 poultry experts from slaughterhouses, the feed industry, administration, and research received simulated data on 24 flocks. This included data for 5 welfare variables based on postmortem meat inspection information on commercial flocks and based on literature: mortality during rearing, foot-pad score, and the incidence of ascites, dermatitis, and cachexia in routine meat inspection. The experts ranked these flocks from the worst to the best according to animal welfare. Conjoint analysis weighted the relative importance of the welfare variables for broiler welfare. The study based relative importance for broiler welfare on 20 expert opinions: 24.6% for mortality, 35.9% for foot-pad score, 19.7% for the incidence of ascites, 15.7% for the incidence of dermatitis, and 4.1% for the incidence of cachexia. In the future, an index for broiler welfare evaluation could be developed based on the results of this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Animal Welfare*
  • Animals
  • Benchmarking
  • Body Weight
  • Chickens*
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Poultry Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Poultry Diseases / etiology
  • Poultry Diseases / prevention & control