Thailand highlights its poultry welfare standards

Thailand highlights its poultry welfare standards

THAILAND – The animal welfare movement has become global in its push to help billions of animals live in better conditions

However, it has a deeper meaning in livestock businesses. For Thai food producers, high welfare products are not about offering alternative choices to consumers, but has become the only way to do business.

In recent years, food producers are facing a lot of pressure from the public. For example, consumers are demanding products from ethical companies while campaigners are urging the distributors to choose responsible producers.

A lot of effort is required to meet such demands. However, good welfare practices will help to produce better meats.

Responsible farming is good for animals, business and consumers, said Mr Somsak Soonthornnawaphat, head of campaigns at World Animal Protection (WAP) Thailand.

Taking pigs as an example, he explained that pigs are often raised in crowded farms. Applying animal welfare practices will help them to behave naturally. It can reduce stress as well as injury and infection in animals. Furthermore, it lowers any chance of having to use antibiotics, increasing food safety and quality.

Dr Payungsak Somyanontanakul, DVM, vice president at Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods), a leading poultry producer and exporter in Thailand, described animal welfare as the heart of CP Foods’ livestock business.

Dr Payungsak explained that the company’s animal welfare practices are adopted from the internationally recognised Five Freedoms of animal welfare, which consist of freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.

How a high-tech farm improves animals’ wellbeing

CP Foods’ poultry farms are equipped with advanced technologies such as Evaporative Cooling Systems (EVAP), a system which manages the environment within the farm and was installed to help chickens feel comfortable.

Automatic feeding systems are provided to ensure that the chickens are fed sufficiently. Lighting and temperature are controlled to make the chickens feel like they are living in the natural environment as much as possible.

The environmental control housing system also reduces chances of disease expose for our chickens.

All animals are closely monitored by veterinarians and Poultry Welfare Officers (PWO) who can promptly provide medical treatment to all sick chickens.

As a result, these practices help birds to stay healthy, reduce antimicrobial use and help them to grow faster without using any hormonal growth promoters.

We are invested in welfare practices and approaches and strive constantly to improve our welfare systems. We would like to raise the baseline for animal welfare standards for the benefit of consumers and everyone involved in the livestock industry, said Dr Payungsak.

How Thai poultry business is revamping its image

How Thai poultry business is revamping its image

As consumers shift their focus to health and wellness, the Thai poultry industry has to adopt a new identity synonymous with high quality poultry production by pushing its food safety and animal welfare practices to meet the global standard.

The industry, best known for its competitive price, has been trying hard to revamp its image with a special focus on food quality and safety.

The turning point of the Thai poultry business was in 2004 when Thailand lost its key markets due to the outbreak of bird flu. Since then, the industry has paid more attention to disease control and quality issues.

The private sector played an important role in the industry’s revival. It realised that hygiene and strict biosecurity practices were the solution. Good chicken housing systems was the main area that was significantly improved. For example, evaporative air cooling systems (EVAP), a system to control the environment within the farming area, were installed by major companies such as Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) to prevent the risk of outbreak.

Furthermore, poultry producers have worked together with the government and farmers to improve food safety standards. The top priority is to ensure that the products are safe from antibiotic residue, growth hormones and other drugs used to treat animals.

Poultry expert, Dr Payungsak Somyanontanakul, vice president of CP Foods, said the Thai Government strictly prohibits the use of substances in animals such as Hexoestrol which is a growth-enhancement hormone. “Therefore, it is impossible to have chemical residues left over in chicken meat since it is illegal in the country,” he added.

CP Foods, a leading poultry producer in Thailand with 30% market share, recently announced global policy on responsible antimicrobials use. The policy is now implemented by all of its units globally.

“The policy demonstrates our leadership in the food sector and commitment to food quality and safety. As antimicrobial misuse is becoming a global issue, the company is taking a proactive role as one of the food industry leaders minimising the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Share-class antimicrobials are used prudently under strict supervision from veterinarians,” Dr Payungsak said.

It also implements good animal welfare practices to improve the health of chickens instead of using feed addictives.

“At CP Foods, we believes that keeping chickens in a healthy and happy state can prevent the animal from getting sick, and therefore, less chance of using antimicrobials,” he added.

The industry’s attempt has been very successful so far since it has not been affected by any serious incident for over a decade.

Nowadays, the standard of Thai poultry has finally regained confidence from many major markets in the world such as the European Union and Japan.

In the previous year, Thai poultry enjoyed stellar success in the chicken exporting business. The country exported 790,000 tons valued at US$3.05 billion, making it the fourth largest poultry exporter in the world.

Processed soya to improve performance of broiler chickens

Processed soya to improve performance of broiler chickens

Processed soya bean meal in broilers led to significantly increased feed conversion rates and body weight gain, according to newly published research.

Researchers from Roslin Nutrition, Scotland and AB Agri Ltd, England, carried out a study to investigate whether the inclusion of a processed soya bean meal in the diets of broilers to 41 days at either 7.5% or 15% – at the expense of standard soybean meal – could lead to improved performance parameters.

FCR and body weight gain better with processed soybean

The diets were formulated to be balanced for energy and digestible lysine with all other amino acids at appropriate ratio.

At almost all time points, the Feed Conversion Rate (FCR) and Body Weight Gain (BWG) of the birds fed the processed soybean meal diets was significantly better than the control diet, and in some cases the 15% diet was superior to the 7.5% diet.

Up until day 41, only the FCR of the 15% diet was better than the control. When FCR was corrected for the mean BW, birds on the 7.5% diet also performed better than the control.

The inclusion of processed soybean meal did not affect feed intake until day 14. Thereafter, independent of the inclusion level, intake was significantly increased versus the control diet.

Processed soya bean meals are commonly used in piglet diets as they are likely to contain reduced anti-nutritional factors than can be problematic when fed during phases of early development.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

Organic acids invaluable tool for poultry gut health

Organic acids invaluable tool for poultry gut health

Protected benzoic acid improved growth performance in birds that were subject to Eimeria challenge, according to new research released this week by Novus International.

Frances Yan, senior poultry nutrition research scientist at Novus, told the Poultry Science Association annual meeting, that the efficacy was greater when diet complexity was increased by combining viscous grain and low digestible protein ingredients.

Eimeria is a common gut health obstacle that can lead to major losses in poultry barns due to mortality and the resulting reduced performance.

She said a battery trial was conducted with 384 day-old male broilers to evaluate the effect of protected benzoic acid on growth performance and gut health of broilers subject to Eimeria challenge as affected by diet type.

The study consisted of 6 dietary treatments in a 3×2 factorial arrangement with 3 types of diet (rye 10%, canola meat 7.5% and poultry meal 3%, and their combination) and 2 levels of protected benzoic acid (0 and 500g/ton AVIMATRIX Novus International Inc).

Each diet was fed to 8 replicate pens of 8 birds. All birds were orally gavaged with a coccidiosis vaccine at 10x recommended dose on day 14.

Body weight, feed intake, FCR and mortality were determined on day 7,14, 19 and 26. On day 27, blood samples were collected for serum coloration, IL-10 and IL-4 determination. Data were subject to 2-way ANOVA to evaluate main effects and interaction; means were separated by Fisher’s protected LSDA test.

The results showed that bodyweight was reduced with inclusion of 10% rye on day 7,14 and 19 regardless of canola and poultry meal (CPM) inclusion (P<0.05).>

Body weight increased

Benzoic acid increased body weight on day 7 and 14 regardless of diet type (p<0.05). on day 26, without benzoic acid, birds fed cpm weighed higher than those fed the combination and the rye fed birds weighed in between not significantly different from either; benzoic acid increased 26-d bw of broilers fed the combination by 12% but not in the other two types, accounting for a trend of interaction (p=”0.09).”>

Up to day 14, FCR was not significantly affected by diet type, but improved by benzoic acid by 17 and 7 points on day 7 and 14 respectively (P<0.05). there was an interaction between diet type and benzoic acid on day 19 (p=”0.07)” and 26 (p><0.05) where combining rye and cpm led to higher fcr, which was reversed by benzoic acid supplementation.>

Feed intake was affected by diet type on day 14, 19 and 26 (P<0.05) in which higher bw typically corresponded to higher feed intake, but not significantly affected by benzoic acid (p>0.10).

Serum IL-4 was the highest in birds fed rye, followed by CPM and rye and then by CPM (P<0.05), indicating rye was capable of inducing inflammatory responses.>

Yan said: “Organic acids are an invaluable tool in today’s poultry industry. We’re really only scratching the surface in terms of what they can do for poultry health gut challenges.”


Towards a safe and sustainable poultry chain

Towards a safe and sustainable poultry chain

Moves towards creating an innovative poultry production chain have taken a step forward following the release of a report into a major three-year European study.

The project wanted to develop an innovative production chain that offers high quality and safe products, as required by the consumer, through a guaranteed traceability and product safety and valorisation and development of distinctive poultry products.

It was carried out against a backdrop of increasing volumes of poultry meat being imported from Brazil and Thailand.

The project was divided into four research topics – product transparency and recognisability, animal welfare, healthy and robust chickens and valorisation and development of added value products. Within the topics, 32 studies were defined, of which 30 were carried out by HAS University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen Research.

Product transparency and recognisability

This focused not just on transparency and recognisability but also the development of a sustainability model through mapping of the broiler production chain. From this production chain, three chain links were selected for further study – the broiler farmer, slaughterhouse and processing plant.

The sustainability study found that broiler farmers as well as the processing industry could make improvements with relatively low effort, such as using more green energy and cutting back on water usage where possible.

Animal welfare

Experiments performed for the development of effective environmental enrichment showed that broiler chickens prefer some enrichments over others – eg for resting on elevated structures they preferred platforms over perches and for exploration and foraging they preferred wood shavings bales over lucerne bales and pecking stones.

They also made better use of enrichments when the stocking density was reduced from 35kg/square metre to 25kg/square metre.

And wood shavings bales only stimulated activity of broilers better as compared to the combination of wood shavings bales and platforms.

None of the experiments indicated that environmental enrichment negatively influenced the technical performance of the broilers but more research is needed to determine the optimum number in a broiler house.

End of life

The report says that data evaluation on the end-of-life phase shows that the percentage of wing fractures increases between lairage, post-shackling, post-stunning and post-plucking, with an average increase of 4% between lairage and post-plucking.

Additionally, most injuries and damage occur during the slaughter process and only a small percentage occurs during the pre-slaughter process (catching and transport). To develop preventative measures for injuries and damage, it is recommended to determine exactly where injuries and damage occur.

In addition, the report adds, a scoring system to determine the age of bruises needs to be developed.

During transport of broilers for thinning in average temperatures, it was shown that there were still large differences in the temperature (>10°C) in the containers according to the location of them in the truck. When vehicles stopped temperatures rose considerably, implying that especially during stops there is a welfare risk for broilers.


The study on indicators of the effect of thinning found that the majority of broiler farms apply thinning as a matter of routine practice, of which 30% thins multiple times during a production cycle. Feed deprivation of the whole flock prior to thinning may negatively affect welfare of the remaining birds. The report argues that flock uniformity and the number of broilers per feeder after thinning could be suitable indicators to determine the effect of thinning.


Studies on measures to reduce Campylobacter contamination on farm and during the slaughter process found that there are multiple introduction routes. Feed additives did not significantly reduce Campylobacter and it is possible that thinning might be an introduction route as contamination was detected on containers. A further study on the risk of contamination in containers confirmed that even after cleaning, containers were contaminated.

Three different intervention methods were tested in a slaughterhouse to reduce Campylobacter spp and Escherichia coli contamination during the slaughter process. The results showed that the tested intervention methods were all separately successful in reducing bacterial counts compared to no intervention.

Experiments with a fourth method, cold atmospheric plasma also led to a Campylobacter jejuni reduction but the meat quality was no longer acceptable after the treatment due to dehydration. Industrial applicability and suitable settings of this pilot technique to maintain meat quality would have to be developed before usage is possible.

Value added

This group of studies focused on reducing salt and E-numbers, development of gluten free products and on the valorisation of chicken leg meat. The salt content of spicy chicken wings could be reduced by 25% (20% in the marinade and 5% in the breading) without noticeable difference in either saltiness, tenderness, juiciness and colour.

The experiments on allergen-free Hotwings revealed that a combination of chickpea, rice and tapioca flour resulted in the best gluten-free breading mixture with similar or better properties compared to the reference product which had a wheat flour breading. Another project led to the development of four concepts for world marinades to be used on chicken thighs. All are free from allergens, low in salt and low in E-numbers.

Several product concepts were developed for the valorisation of leg meat. One of the concepts is a non-sticky fingers concept, which consists of drumsticks with a clean bone resulting in clean hands after consumption.

The report summary concluded that “with these work packages we covered a large part of the poultry production chain – starting on the farm to improve animal welfare, health and sustainability, to the processing industry where sustainability, product safety and health were addressed, to the production of products with lower salt and E-number contents, novel concepts for valorisation of the broilers up to the customer wishes.

“The results of the performed projects contribute to an innovative poultry production chain, through the developed welfare and sustainability model for more transparency and recognisability, through the novel, high quality product concepts developed, the insights in end of life welfare, the demonstrated potential for Campylobacter reduction in the slaughter process and the improved understanding of effective environmental enrichment that can be applied on farm.”

• The collaborators for this report were Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen Food and Biobased Research, HAS University of Applied Science, Marks and Spencer, Food Animal Initiative and Heijs Food Products.