2007 - 2010

Engineering, animal welfare and meat quality considerations of broiler transportation in a heated and ventilated vehicle

Principal Investigator: Trever Crowe, University of Saskatchewan
Status: Completed


Transport of broiler chickens represents a major welfare challenge to the poultry industry. Temperature and humidity levels in commercial transport vehicles are highly variable, which can expose some or all of the birds to undue stress. Previous research at the University of Saskatchewan demonstrating this variability has led to the development of a prototype broiler transport trailer with active heating and ventilation capable of much better environmental control than commercial trailers currently used. The purpose of this project is to measure and compare differences in temperature and humidity between the prototype and commercial trailers in a range of environmental conditions typical of Canadian winters. The effects of temperature and humidity extremes on the welfare of the bird will also be examined.

Research Progress

Activities thus far include recruitment of personnel, development of protocols, completion of funding applications and equipment acquisition. Fifteen field trials have been performed under ambient conditions ranging from –27°C to 13°C. Many data have been collected covering such parameters as trailer temperature, trailer humidity, body core temperatures, and shrinkage during transport. Dr. Crowe’s team is also looking at and adjusting air flow patterns through the prototype trailer to optimize humidity control; there is a possibility that controlling humidity will allow the birds to better tolerate low temperatures with less need for auxiliary heat. Data have also been collected on over 750 carcasses, which will be used to establish the effects of environmental effects on meat quality.

Future Work

There have already been many data collected with several more field trials planned. Future studies using environmental chambers will help determine the low ambient temperature threshold during which broilers can safely be transported.


$1,229,757 (CPRC $90,000, NSERC/AAFC $800,000, PIC $23,300, CFOS $80,000, ACP $30,000, AFAC $10,000, SCIDF $55,425, Lilydale (in kind) $141,032)

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