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Dr.Werner Bessei
University of Hohenheim
Title: Impact of Animal Welfare on Worldwide Poultry Production



Animal welfare has developed contemporaneously with the industrialization and urbanization of the human society in the 19th century. In the early phase of development the activity of welfare organizations were mainly focused on horses working in the mines and in road transport. In the 1960th the interest of welfare shifted towards farm animals kept under “industrial” conditions. Since laying hens experienced the most rapid transition from unlimited free range towards battery cages, they attracted most interest of welfare organizations, public media, politicians and scientists. Consequently the management conditions for laying hens in Europe were regulated in detail by national laws and EU-Directives, and these were used as templates for welfare regulations in broilers, turkeys and even other farm animal species. At present there are activities in Northern America and other continents to establish special regulations for laying hens. The welfare activities in Europe are now directed towards other issues, such as beak-trimming, killing day-old chicks of layer lines, and restricted feeding in broiler breeders. All measures which are considered to improve the welfare of animals increase the cost of production. Keeping intact-beak layers versus beak-trimmed layers results in a financial loss in between 1.5 to 2 € per hen and year. Since different standards in welfare are not considered on the global market for eggs and poultry meat the differences in the national regulations produce an enormous distortion of the competition. There is a recent tendency that important retailers use welfare as a marketing argument and establish special high price labels. There exists also an animal welfare program in Germany where retailers pay a special subsidy to broiler and turkey farmers which ensure a higher level of welfare to the birds. These marketing strategies allow a fair compensation for higher welfare standards and alleviate to some extend the distortion of competition on the global poultry market. First experiences have shown that the welfare programs are accepted by the poultry producers. The acceptance of the consumers has still to be proved.

Professor in Farm Animal Ethology and Small Animal Production, University of Hohenheim, retired as of April 2014

1967 - 1971  Studies of Agricultural Science at the University of Hohenheim, specialisation in animal production
1971 - 1973 PhD in Poultry Science at the University of Hohenheim

1973 - 1975   Technical Adviser in the export department of Philips-Duphar,Düsseldorf, Germany
1975 - 1982   Scientific Assistent
1982    Habilitation in Farm Animal Ethology and Small Animal Production
1983 - 1985   Professor for Small Animal Production at the University of Hohenheim
1985 - 1990   Animal Production Officer (Poultry) in FAO  HQ`s  Rome
1990 - 2014   Professor for Ethology and Small Animal Sciences, Institute for Animal Husbandry and Breeding, University of Hohenheim, Germany Research and teaching in farm animal ethology and poultry science
2014, April 1, retired  

2013 - present   President of the German Branch of WPSA
2012 - present   Senior Vice-President of WPSA

 World's Poultry Science Association
 Chinese Association of Animal Science and Veterinary
 China Poultry Information Net



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