Rearing, bird type and pre-slaughter transport conditions I. Effect on dead on arrival

Morris Villarroel, Fernando Pomares, Miguel A. Ibáñez, Almudena Lage, Paula Martínez-Guijarro, Jesús Méndez, Carlos de Blas


The transport of broilers to slaughter normally results in a small percentage of dead on arrival (DoA) but little is known about the effects of flock thinning or bird weight. A multivariable linear model was used to analyse the incidence of DoA over one year in 1,856 flocks of Ross broilers (9,188 shipments). Each flock was categorized according to broiler type (yellow-skinned females and males, white-skinned females and males and roaster females) and thinning (birds transported after thinning, remaining birds after thinning and non-thinned flocks), in addition to transport distance, waiting time, maximum and minimum daily temperatures, precipitation and maximum wind speed. The overall percentage of DoA was 0.187%. The effect of the daily maximum outside temperature on DoA was quadratic with minimum DoA at 21.5ºC. Arrival time to the slaughterhouse and waiting time increased DoA by 0.0044% and 0.0021% for every 60 min increase, respectively. DoA were higher in males (which were heavier than females), and in the flocks that were previously thinned. An interaction between thinning and bird type was found, so that DoA were higher in previously thinned flocks of male broilers and roaster females. Despite the high incidence of thinning and larger bird weight, the percentage of DoA was comparable to previous studies. This research provides one of the largest detailed analyses of DoA in commercial broiler production in the Iberian Peninsula. The models described allow to quantify how increases in temperature, transport distance, waiting time, bird weight and the practise of thinning can all increase broiler mortality.


poultry; slaughterhouse; mortality; welfare

Full Text:



Barrios PR, Reiersen J, Lowman R, Bisaillon JR, Michel P, Fridriksdóttir V, Gunnarsson E, Stern N, Berke O, McEwen S, Martin W, 2006. Risk factors for Campylobacter spp. colonization in broiler flocks in Iceland. Prev Vet Med 74: 264-278.

Bouwknegt M, Van de Giessen AW, Dam-Deisz WD, Havelaar AH, Nagelkerke NJ, Henken AM, 2004. Risk factors for the presence of Campylobacter spp. in Dutch broiler flocks. Prev Vet Med 62: 35-49.

Chauvin C, Hillion S, Balaine L, Michel V, Peraste J, Petetin I, Lupo C, Le Bouquin S, 2011. Factors associated with mortality of broilers during transport to slaughterhouse. Animal 5: 287-293.

Chowdhury S, Sandberg M, Themudo GE, Ersbøll AK, 2012. Risk factors for Campylobacter infection in Danish broiler chickens. Poult Sci 91: 2701-2709.

Haslam SM, Knowles TG, Brown SN, Wilkins LJ, Kestin SC, Warriss PD, Nicol CJ, 2008. Prevalence and factors associated with it, of birds dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse and other rejection conditions in broiler chickens. Brit Poul Sci 49: 685-696.

Jacobs L, Delezie E, Duchateau L, Goethals K, Tuyttens FA. 2016a. Broiler chickens dead on arrival: associated risk factors and welfare indicators. Poult Sci 96: 259-265.

Jacobs L, Delezie E, Duchateau L, Goethals K, Tuyttens FA, 2016b. Impact of the separate pre-slaughter stages on broiler chicken welfare. Poult Sci 96: 266-273.

Kittelsen KE, Moe RO, Hoel K, Kolbjørnsen Ø, Nafstad O, Granquist EG, 2017. Comparison of flock characteristics, journey duration and pathology between flocks with a normal and a high percentage of broilers 'dead-on-arrival'at abattoirs. Animal 1: 2301-2308.

Koolman L, Whyte P, Bolton DJ, 2014. An investigation of broiler caecal Campylobacter counts at first and second thinning. J Appl Microbiol 117: 876-881.

Meltzer A, 1983. Thermoneutral zone, resting metabolic rate of broilers. Br Poult Sci 24: 471-476.

Mitchell MA, Kettlewell PJ, 1998. Physiological stress and welfare of broiler chickens in transit: solutions not problems! Poult Sci 77: 1803-1814.

Nijdam E, Arens P, Lambooij E, Decuypere E, Stegeman JA, 2004. Factors influencing bruises and mortality of broilers during catching, transport, and lairage. Poult Sci 83: 1610-1615.

Oba A, Almeida MD, Pinheiro JW, Ida EI, Marchi DF, Soares AL, Shimokomaki M, 2009. The effect of management of transport and lairage conditions on broiler chicken breast meat quality and DOA (Death on Arrival). Braz Arch Biol Technol 52: 205-211.

Schwartzkopf-Genswein KS, Faucitano L, Dadgar S, Shand P, González LA, Crowe TG, 2012. Road transport of cattle, swine and poultry in North America and its impact on animal welfare, carcass and meat quality: A review. Meat Sci 92: 227-243.

Sturkie PD, 1965. Avian Physiology, 2nd edn. Cornstock Press, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Vecerek V, Grbalova S, Voslarova E, Janackova B, Malena M, 2006. Effects of travel distance and the season of the year on death rates of broilers transported to poultry processing plants. Poult Sci 85: 1881-1884.

Vecerek V, Voslarova E, Conte F, Vecerkova L, Bedanova I, 2016. Negative trends in transport-related mortality rates in broiler chickens. As-Aust J Anim Sci 29: 1796-1804.

Villarroel M, Francisco I, Ibáñez MA, Novoa M, Martínez-Guijarro P, Méndez J, de Blas C, 2018. Rearing bird type and pre-slaughter transport conditions of broilers II: Effect on foot-pad dermatitis and carcass quality. Span J Agric Res 16 (2): e0504 (this issue).

Whiting TL, Drain ME, Rasali DP, 2007. Warm weather transport of broiler chickens in Manitoba. II. Truck management factors associated with death loss in transit to slaughter. Can Vet J 48: 148-154.

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2018162-12013