Animal welfare: poultry farming at the forefront

Poultry farms have been investing for years in innovation to improve the technological and structural standards of livestock farming and guarantee maximum animal welfare, an absolute priority for Italian poultry farmers. Despite this, the supply chain continues to be too often subject to distorted media representations and not demonstrative of a cutting-edge sector.

Very often those who propose to tell about Italian poultry farms have never really visited a professional one, or prefer to concentrate on single situations that are not representative of the totality of the broiler farms present in the national territory, where the achievement of the maximum animal welfare it is absolute priority.

For 60 years Italian #chickens are no longer kept in #cages, contrary to how people continue to think, but they are raised on the ground, protected in sheds. Click To Tweet

For 60 years Italian chickens are no longer kept in cages, contrary to how people continue to think, but they are raised on the ground, protected in sheds, in compliance with strict European and Italian regulations establishing very precise microclimatic parameters: humidity, temperature, air exchange, lighting and stocking density, such as to allow the animal’s wellbeing and natural behaviour to develop. In the outdoor or organic farming, the structures are also equipped with large fenced outdoor areas enriched with vegetation, where the animals are free to move and scratch.

Safety and animal welfare are essential, a constant commitment to avant-garde poultry farming, which aims to increasingly reduce the use of medicines. Although people continue to think that all animals are treated with antibiotics as a preventive measure, something absolutely forbidden for years, today the data are clear: only 1 chicken out of 5 is treated with antibiotics and only if strictly necessary, reaching the goal of antibiotics reduction by more than 82% compared to 2011.

#Safety and #AnimalWelfare are essential, a constant commitment to avant-garde #poultry #farming, which aims to increasingly reduce the use of #medicines. Click To Tweet

This has been possible thanks to the increase in animal welfare through all new tools that technology makes available today, such as a restructuring of the breeding environments and an innovative and scrupulous management: a pride for Italian poultry farming, given that others sectors, equally committed to the antibiotics reduction, as in human medicine, have not yet reached so high percentages.

Modern farms today are equipped with sophisticated digital systems allowing to set all the micro-climatic parameters of the farm, constantly monitoring and adapting them to animals’ needs in various stages of growth. An elaborate algorithm indicates the exact amount of feed to be administered, based on the age and weight of animals and breeders can keep everything under control through tablets or smartphones and take prompt action, even remotely, to modify the conditions if necessary.

Only 1 #chicken out of 5 is treated with #antibiotics and only if strictly necessary, reaching the goal of #AntibioticsReduction by more than 82% compared to 2011. Click To Tweet

Also, the density in farms, which is often judged negatively, is established by law on the basis of scientific assessments. In particular, the European legislation on the welfare of chickens is the strictest in the world and provides for a maximum limit of 33 kg of animals per square meter of surface. This limit can reach 39 kg in the presence of optimal breeding conditions in terms of welfare, assessed by the competent veterinary services. These parameters are defined in order to place the animals in an optimal environment to satisfy their ethological needs, based exclusively on scientific evidence and on the authoritative opinions of EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, independent scientific institution, called to express also on matters concerning food safety and hygiene.

Not only the consumer but also the breeders care about the well-being of their chickens, as their commercial activity and their profit depends on the healthiness, sustainability and reputation of the entire poultry supply chain. Indeed, just to raise awareness and value of breeders, from 2017 Unaitalia has announced the “Avicoltore dell’anno” Award (the Best Poultry Farmer of the Year), intended to give recognition to the best practices of the Italian poultry sector on animal welfare, environmental sustainability, technological innovation and biosecurity.


The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.