«October 2009 SCIENTIFIC COORDINATOR Pierre Le Neindre, Senior research scientist, INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) ...»
• “Cage systems” are used for the majority of laying hens and 80% of eggs for consumption are produced in this way. Cages are most often laid out in batteries and located within climate-controlled buildings, i.e. under confined conditions. The genotypes of birds used have anatomical and behavioural characteristics that, in the context of the rearing conditions, renders necessary specific husbandry procedures (de-beaking, de-combing, toe-clipping and shortening of spurs). At the selection stage, male and female breeding stock for the lines used to generate commercial genotypes are mostly raised in individual cages, but in France their offspring, which furnish the production stock for commercial farmers, are reared on the floor.
• “Non-cage systems” are used for the growing period for all meat bird production and for rearing the breeding stock for several species or production types such as broilers, turkeys and ducks. A certain proportion of laying hens of certain genotypes, probably less than 25% of the total flock, are also raised in these systems. The buildings used for floor–reared laying hens generally have a single level, are equipped with nest boxes and may or may not have access to an outdoor exercise run. Though not very common in France, another system for housing laying hens is the aviary. This system consists of several tiers of platforms and to a certain degree corresponds to a battery system without doors. Meat birds are generally floor-housed for reproduction. The sexes can be mixed (for broiler production) or separated (guinea fowl, turkeys and Pekin ducks for producing mulards (“mule ducks”) in which case artificial insemination (AI) is always used.
With poultry, the European convention of 1976 for the protection of domestic animals has been increasingly strengthened by further recommendations of which several concern the poultry species "Gallus" (1995), webfooted birds (1999, 3 recommendations (T-AP [95/5], [94/3] & [95/20]) and turkeys (2001, T-AP [95/16]). For the poultry industry, special directives have been made about hens raised for table egg laying (88/166/CEE & 99/74/CE) and broiler chickens (2007/43/CE). In addition, directives and non-specific regulations about transport and conditions in abattoirs, feed additives, zoonoses, environment, traceability, and organic production (834/2007/CE et 889/2008/CE) have been adopted and can concern poultry species. Any national legislation in force can only be more restrictive than the European regulations, as is the case in certain countries for laying hens.
4.1.4 Fish Production of farmed fish in France is divided between salmonids farmed in fresh water tanks (mostly rainbow trout), pond fish (carp, roach, pike) and ocean fish (bass, royal bream, croaker, salmon and turbot) reared in floating cages or in tanks on the sea-shore. The latest information puts the production of rainbow trout at 35 000 tonnes per year and 60 000 head of ocean fish alevins per year of which more than half is exported. Trout are produced in nearly 600 sites belonging to 400 operators of various sizes: 20% of them produce 80% of the fish.
Most of the produce from trout farming is destined for human consumption and the rest is for restocking and for recreational fishing. Farming in ponds takes up 112 000 hectares and there are 80 operators who use this form of production solely for fishing or fishing activities associated with recreation and tourism. 12 000 tonnes of pond fish (of which 6 000 are carp) are produced annually and of these 9 000 tonnes are used to restock the fishing waters.
Marine fish culture produces 8 500 tonnes per year of which 4 200 tons are bar and this is more than the amount of bar that derives from commercial fishing. Marine culture is confined to about 50 firms of which about 10 specialise in hatching and 80% of the annual trade of 60 million euros is generated by only 10% of these firms.
When the price of these marine species is considered, the sales turnover corresponds to about 50% of that coming from trout production.
The Council of Europe has made a recommendation about aquaculture. European legislation is in the process of being set up and faces - a number of challenges. Notably it has to keep the economic sector viable, to guarantee food security and animal welfare, to resolve environmental problems and to stimulate research.
For each species or group of species (poultry, pork or ruminants) we outline here the main sources of potential pain with which the animals are confronted. We will cover this in conjunction with farming practices, the systems of production and slaughtering as well as with the impacts of genetic selection.
4.2.1. Sources associated with care and identification of the animals There are some potential causes of pain such as abscesses that develop in some animals as a result of injections (of iron or vaccines) or from tattooing of piglets or ear-tagging for identifying animals (pigs, cattle, sheep, goats) or inserting nose rings to avoid behaviours that could pose problems for breeders (sucking among bulls or heifers, degradation of fields by sows in open air) but there is little literature and the consequences for pain seem to be minor. Complying with good practice for injecting iron or vaccines can reduce the risk of subsequent abscesses.
To reduce pain and wounds following some practices used for identification, other systems using microchip implants are being developed.
Among other potential sources of pain we can identify surgical treatments and practices that are done to care for animals that have particular problems. For example, there are Caesarean operations in the case of cows having calving problems and hoof care involving paring to cure hoof problems in ruminants. Detection and management of these types of pain enters the medical domain and the possible need for analgesic treatment. Therefore they will not be covered in this report.
4.2.2. Sources associated with handling of the animals by humans.
The case of catching poultry.
Catching and transport of reproductive animals to another site or of all birds to the abattoir requires capture and carries a strong risk of wounds and fractures as a result of human intervention. As well, laying hens are very susceptible to problems of fracture at the end of their breeding life, particularly when they are removed from their cages. Effectively, they have brittle bones (osteoporosis) which results directly from the heavy metabolic toll associated with laying eggs as well as the cage-rearing. The fracture rate can be as high as 25% but this is very variable and depends on whether they are reared in cages or on the ground, the competence of the collection teams and the type of obstructions in the building. Since the 1980s mechanical harvesting of broilers and turkeys has developed wherever the shape of buildings permits. This technique generally means that the harvesting of the animals has a lower level of mortality than when catching is done manually.
The case of force feeding geese and ducks The consequences of force feeding and the conditions of housing of certain genotypes of fat palmipeds (geese [3%] and ducks [97%]) to produce fois gras and magrets can be a source of pain. Two situations involving pain are envisaged here: 1, the force feeding itself which is practised for 11 or 12 days in the mule duck and 15-18 days in the goose. This practice is claimed not to be painful due to anatomical characteristics of the tissue in the wall of the digestive tract of the birds. However it can lead to accidental wounds or encourage pathological dermatological conditions: 2, Hypertrophy of the liver and steatosis5 which is the equivalent of nutritional cirrhosis of the liver with neither tissue damage nor cellular degeneration and is totally reversible. Anatomical studies show that the liver cannot be the source of painful sensations in birds. The average cumulative level of mortality and culling of the Steatosis is lipid storage in the cells of an organ, eg in the hepatocytes in the liver where it is called fatty liver. In birds and fish, lipid 5 synthesis takes place overwhelmingly in the liver, whereas it occurs mainly in adipose tissue in mammals.
58 Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" “weakest” birds is about 2.5% in force-fed ducks but varies with the conditions of housing and management of the animals. It can be much higher in extreme situations such as heat waves. Further analysis of the causes of mortality and need for culling is necessary to understand better the effects of force-feeding on the physiology of the animal. The possible existence of stomach pains associated with the amount and speed of introduction of the food for force-feeding has not yet been studied.
The case of fish The protocols for rearing that are currently in use imply that fish are manipulated frequently. They are manipulated in the phases when they are sorted, when their tank or breeding site is changed, when they have veterinary treatment, when they are weighed or when they are taken for slaughter. All of these operations imply that the fish are removed from their breeding environment for a variable amount of time. Techniques presently in use have usually been modernised and use systems that manipulate the fish rapidly while maintaining an aqueous environment at all times. For specific tasks on a small number of individuals, such as applying treatments, removing tissue or marking individual fish, the use of anaesthetic is more or less obligatory for the success of the operation. Where fish production is done under well-run and managed conditions it is unlikely that these sorts of manipulations produce substantial nociception.
4.2.3. Sources associated with the housing and management of the animals Examples from poultry The degree of prevalence of often-observed foot lesions, such as dermatitis of the foot (pododermatitis), keratosis, or swelling, depends on the rearing system and also on the genotype of the birds and the type of equipment.
Pododermatitis is common in poultry and turkeys that are in fully closed conditions. This is also true in poultry that have access to a run. Pododermatitis probably causes little pain when it remains superficial but in an advanced stage, such as when ulcerated, these lesions are often infected and the development of pain is very probable.
Certain types of litter favour the development of inflammatory pododermatitis. Thus, moist litter is much more likely than dry litter to induce inflammatory responses in the tissue of feet. The prevalence of pododermatitis has been proposed as an indicator to evaluate the level of welfare within a farm and to establish acceptable densities for individual breeding establishments (European directive on broilers). The relevance of this use as an indicator is still under evaluation.
Joint injuries and locomotive problems are a potential source of pain in domestic poultry. Thus, in broiler poultry, there is little movement by the birds. They spend a lot of their time sitting which is on a par with the rapid rate of growth that characterises the lines of birds used in this type of production. The incidence of postural problems and lameness is also high. Since the beginning of the 1970s, a regular census of lameness in industrial breeding establishments has confirmed this high prevalence. It shows especially the relationship between conditions of chronic physiological pain in rearing and the behavioural adaptations that are observed such as lameness and
postural problems. This confirmation of distressful conditions or true pain is based on several types of observation:
1. The existence of nociceptors in the feet of poultry, 2. anatomical and anatomo-pathological data on the feet and pelvic joints that show several potential sources of pain related to bone deformation together with stress on the joints and dislocation of the tendons or simple tendonitis, and 3. Studies of behavioural pharmacology that show positive effects of analgesics or anti-inflammatory substances on posture and locomotion.
Examples from pigs A significant source of pain in pig rearing arises from musculoskeletal problems, especially those caused by poor stance and walking difficulties and the resulting lameness. This lameness comes from many sources, including genetic factors in particular but also factors associated with the flooring, especially when it is too hard, with a lack of exercise when there is insufficient space and with the feeding regime when it encourages a rate of growth that is too rapid and hence problems with leg conformation.
Expertise scientifique collective "Douleurs animales" 59 Examples from cattle
Among the sources of potential pain many can be associated with:
• restriction of available space for the animal either in stalls or on slats,
• the quality of the ventilation and the density of the animals, factors that predispose animals to infections such as digestive or respiratory disorders in calves,
• the quality of the hygiene of the bedding for the animals - a primary source of pathogens that can cause, for example, intra-mammary infections and diarrhoea in calves,
• the type of flooring which, in cattle, can induce varying frequencies of lameness and foot problems,
• the quality of the feed and the modalities of its distribution which, if it is rich in fermentable carbohydrates, can lead to subacute ruminal acidosis along with many possible subsequent pathological problems,
• the mode of gathering the animals which can lead to agonistic interactions, more frequent combat and thus wounds and bruising, particularly if the group is large.
Examples from fish Fish being bred domestically are subject to attack from predators all through their breeding cycle, which causes significant losses. For salmonids bred in fresh water the principal predators are birds such as heron and cormorants, and otters and martens. In a marine environment, seals and birds are the main predators. The consequences of these attacks are multiple. The fish may be killed but also they may only be wounded and thereby made vulnerable to infection. Different methods are used to reduce the activity of predators, for example, the use of nets and cages, installation of acoustic or visual systems to scare the birds or seals.