Broken bones in domestic fowl: handling and processing damage in end-of-lay battery hens

Br Poult Sci. 1989 Sep;30(3):555-62. doi: 10.1080/00071668908417179.


1. 3115 end-of-lay battery hens and carcases were sampled at set points in the sequence of events that occurred between depopulation of the battery cages at the layer farms and the end of the evisceration line in two processing plants. Live birds were killed in a convulsion-free manner and carcases were dissected to determine the incidence of broken bones. 2. Of the live battery birds 29% had broken bones by the time they reached the waterbath stunner, with on average 0.5 broken bones per bird. Removing birds from the battery cages and hanging them on the slaughter line were identified as causes of broken bones. 3. By the time birds left the end of the eviscerating line, 98% of carcases had broken bones, with on average 6 broken bones each. The stunning, plucking and eviscerating processes caused most of this damage. In particular, stunning broke the furculum, coracoid and scapula, plucking broke the ischium, pubis and ribs, and evisceration damaged the ischium and pubis.

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs*
  • Animals
  • Chickens / injuries*
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / veterinary*