How do your hens compare? New feather score benchmarking tool available

10 February 2014

AssureWel, a five-year collaborative project led by the Soil Association, RSPCA, and the University of Bristol, has produced a new online tool to help monitor and benchmark feather loss in non-caged laying hens.

A new online feather loss benchmarking tool has been produced by AssureWel, allowing non-caged laying hen producers to compare their scores to other industry flocks and provide guidance on addressing risk factors and improving feather cover.

Producers first need to self-assess their flock for feather cover, guidance can be found on the AssureWel website. Having assessed a sample of their flock for feather loss using the AssureWel protocol, producers can simply enter their scores and their flock age into the online tool. The scores are then converted into a graphical representation demonstrating where the flock ‘sits’ within three traffic light action thresholds.

Benchmarking tool

Depending on the flock’s score, there is guidance on how to either improve or maintain the level of feather cover observed. Whichever area a flock may sit in on the benchmarking graph it is important to regularly monitor flocks and make active changes to improve welfare.

As all poultry keepers know, no flock is the same! Potential challenges will affect flocks differently which is why self-assessing your flock’s feather cover on a regular basis can help identify early signs that may point to a potential feather loss problem. Using this in conjunction with the new Benchmarking Tool will help to show how effective changes you have made are and how feather cover is improving compared to the rest of the industry.

The benchmarking tool can found here.

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