Guelph hen welfare project funded

Project to examine welfare of alternative hen housing systems.

Ontario's University of Guelph announced this week that a project aimed at animal welfare assessment practices received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

University of Guelph animal and poultry science professor Tina Widowski will receive $116,000 from CFI's John R. Evans Leaders Fund to study alternative laying hen housing such as free run, aviaries and enriched cages allowing hens to behave more naturally.

"News of this award is fantastic," Widowski said. "Animal welfare has become an extremely important issue for everyone — consumers, food retailers, animal producers, agricultural policy-makers."

Noting that producers are moving away from battery cages, Widowski explained that new poultry housing systems bring welfare problems of their own, such as higher risk of injuries, behavioral issues and poor health. The research team will determine causes and identify solutions.

"The technology and tools for measuring animal behavior and welfare provided by this grant will enable us to keep up with the demand for science-based answers to some tough questions about the welfare of laying hens. It also ensures that our research output and our graduate training are world-class," she said.

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