Danish legislation regarding broilers comprises provisions regarding management, light (including mandatory lighting programs), maximum stocking density, bedding, ventilation and climate, and food and drinker systems. Maximum stocking density, allowed at any time, is 42 kg per m2, if the requirements in the directive´s annexes I, II and V are met, but at the same time the average stocking density of three succeeding flocks must never exceed 40 kg per m2.
In addition, provisions regarding education of broiler producers have been established.
Further requirements valid for the production of eggs for hatching include a ban on beak trimming, except in cases of cannibalism or feather pecking where beak trimming is allowed in chicken less than 10 days old. Also, there are provisions limiting amputation of toes, and there is a ban on the use of "blinkers" and similar devices.
Footpad Dermatitis Control
Control is based on a concept of registration of footpad dermatitis in broilers delivered for slaughter. Footpad dermatitis reflects the quality of the bedding in the house where the broilers were reared, but at the same time the quality of the bedding reflects a number of other welfare indicators. Therefore, the degree of footpad dermatitis is used as a tool to select flocks, which must be subjected to further control as regards animal welfare.
In Denmark, each flock of broilers delivered for slaughter must be examined for footpad dermatitis and given a certain score, depending on the degree of ulcerations on the footpads. In practice, 50 feet from the first third and 50 feet from the last third of each flock are examined, and each foot is given a score of either 0 (no ulcerations), ½ (few and less serious ulcerations) or 2 (many or severe ulcerations).
The scores of the 100 feet are added, and depending on the result the flock is considered to belong to either of 3 groups:
- 0 – 40 points: No interaction is necessary
- 41 – 80 points: The producer is asked to correct deficiencies. If the result for the next flock of broilers delivered is 41 points or more, the slaughterhouse veterinarian reports to the veterinary inspection unit, which must take action.
- 81 – 200 points: The slaughterhouse veterinarian reports to the veterinary inspection unit, which must take action.
When scores recorded by the slaughterhouse are reported, and further action is needed, the veterinary inspection unit orders the producer to correct deficiencies. Obvious deficiencies must be corrected at once or, if necessary, within a certain time limit. If the reasons for the welfare problems are complex, the producer may be asked to draw up an action plan stating which initiatives will be taken, and when to do so in order to correct deficiencies. The producer may also be ordered to lower the stocking density, if serious or repeated welfare problems are found in the flock, or if the producer does not draw up an action plan, or if he does not correct deficiencies as required. The producer can normally only be ordered to decrease stocking density down to 25 kg per m2.
The veterinary inspection unit must also carry out routine flock inspection. There are about 230 broiler producers in Denmark, of which 5%, at least 50 production sites, are randomly chosen for flock inspection every year.