19 April 2015 | Online since 2003



11 February 2014|News,Poultry

How is your feather loss measuring up?


AssureWel, a five-year collaborative project led by the Soil Association, RSPCA, and the University of Bristol, has produced a new online tool to help monitor and benchmark feather loss in non-caged laying hens.

A new online feather loss benchmarking tool has been produced by AssureWel, allowing non-caged laying hen producers to compare their scores to other industry flocks[1]. It aids self-assessment and provides guidance on addressing risk factors and improving feather cover.

Feather loss has been identified as a key indicator of hen welfare and is a concern across the laying hen industry due to its impact on the birds themselves (through stress, thermal discomfort, pain and injury). Feather loss also has economic implications through increased feed requirement, reduced productivity and increased mortality. As such it is essential that poultry keepers monitor their flocks for early warning signs, identify the cause of any feather loss and take action to control and improve it.


Feather cover is already being measured during welfare outcome assessments, which have been part of Freedom Food and Soil Association farm assurance inspections for over 2 years. At point of assessment producers receive immediate feedback including a copy of their feather loss results plotted on a graph to demonstrate how their scores compare to their peers. Producers can then access information on how to self assess their flock for feather cover on the AssureWel website and for the first time can now use the online Bench Marking Tool to continually monitor how their flock compares to the rest of the industry just by the click of a button!

Having assessed a sample of their flock for feather loss using the AssureWel protocol[2], producers can simply enter their scores and their flock age into the online tool. The scores are then converted into a graphical representation demonstrating where the flock ‘sits’ within three traffic light action thresholds. Depending on the flock’s score, there is guidance on how to either improve or maintain the level of feather cover observed.


The traffic light action thresholds are as follows:

? Red – Action is needed. Flocks in this area are falling into the bottom 25% of flocks within the schemes for feather loss. Immediate action is required to find the cause of the problem, if known, and producers are advised on possible strategies to improve feather cover. Information on self-assessment is also provided to encourage continuous monitoring both to evaluate any improvements and ensure feather loss does not worsen.

? Amber – flocks in this area are falling into the middle 50% of flocks within the schemes for feather loss. Producers are encouraged to actively plan to improve by ensuring actions are implemented within their health and welfare plan and feather cover is actively monitored, with changes made where necessary to ensure improvement.

? Green – flocks in this area are falling into the top 25% of flocks within the schemes for feather loss. In order to help guide continuous improvement within the wider industry, producers are encouraged to share their innovative ideas and good practice that may have contributed to achieving this level of feather cover.


Whichever area a flock may sit in on the benchmarking graph it is important to regularly monitor flocks and make active changes to improve welfare. Links to feather cover guides produced by FeatherWel and AssureWel can be found on the website alongside other tips and hints.

As all poultry keepers know, no flock is the same! Potential challenges will affect flocks differently which is why self assessing your flock’s feather cover on a regular basis can help identify early signs that may point to a potential feather loss problem. Using this in conjunction with the new Benchmarking Tool will help to show how effective changes you have made are and how feather cover is improving compared to the rest of the industry.

Download



Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


31 March 2015
Process Engineer - Water / Waste Water, Scotland Wide
The company has completed contracts in countries throughout the world, working on schemes involving water supply and treatmen...

31 March 2015
Market Manager – Agricultural & Horticultural Markets – Home based
Our client offers an innovative range of products for the European agriculture, horticulture and farmcare markets distributin...

17 April 2015
Sales Manager
A distinct advantage would be to have a background in agriculture or retail, as would an AMTRA or SQP qualification....

14 April 2015
Farm Manager - Glasgow
The School of Veterinary Medicine is seeking a motivated, high calibre, working Farm Manager to manage the school farm and it...

15 April 2015
Loader
This role is permanent, working 48 hours per week Monday to Saturday, starting at 6am.Duties include




Related Companies


Top stories you may have missed
10 April 2015 | Agri Safety

Final phase of Scotland's war on BVD

The permanent eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea [BVD] in Scottish cattl...


10 April 2015 | Dairy

Dairy farmers competitiveness will be te...

The abolition of milk quotas in Europe on 1st April has resulted in a numbe...


10 April 2015 | Cattle

EU milk sector growth 'dependent on expo...

The top 14 milk producing countries in Europe will increase their productio...


10 April 2015 | News

Could the rural vote hold the key to the...

Matt Ware is the NFU's head of government and parliamentary affairs, based ...


10 April 2015 | Arable

Action needed to boost farmgate prices i...

There is a 'desperate need' to improve farmgate returns given low incomes a...


9 April 2015 | Arable

OSR damage risks early Sclerotinia infec...

Rapid stem extension, after a slow start to spring, is likely to create spl...


9 April 2015 | Finance

Time for a farm rent revolution?

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...


8 April 2015 | Cattle

Cogent strengthens reputation for high c...

Cogent’s reputation as a source of the highest calibre sires has been enhan...


8 April 2015 | Arable

Exotic plant fungus a 'serious threat to...

The spread of exotic and aggressive strains of a plant fungus is presenting...


7 April 2015 | Animal Health

Share information to tackle food fraud, ...

The FSA’s new Food Crime Unit wants the industry to share information, some...