Type: Book

Understanding the behaviour and improving the welfare of chickens


Dr Christine Nicol is Professor of Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College - University of London, UK. Professor Nicol is internationally renowned for her research on poultry and equine welfare, for which she has received many awards, including from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE), the European Association for Animal Production (EAAP), the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA). As well as many high-cited journal articles, Professor Nicol has written or contributed to a number of books and is a current member of the Stevin Prize Committee.



Publication date:

29 September 2020

Length of book:

360 pages

ISBN-13: 9781786764225

Hardback - £170.00
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This collection summarises the rich body of research on understanding the behaviour of chickens and using this knowledge to optimise welfare management of broilers and layers.

Part 1 of this volume reviews advances in research on key aspects of poultry behaviour and welfare monitoring. Chapters include the genetics and epigenetics of poultry behaviour, sensory perception, pain and stress responses, leaning and cognition as well as social behaviour. The section also includes coverage of wearable, video and acoustic technologies to monitor chicken behaviour and welfare as well as developments in welfare protocols.

Part 2 discusses particular welfare issues affecting broilers and layers. Topics covered include welfare in hatcheries and during rearing, housing and management, the role of enrichment as well as optimising welfare during catching, transport and slaughter. It also reviews advances in understanding specific welfare issues such as injurious pecking, bone and skin health.

Key features

  • Very strong focus on key advances in understanding chicken behaviour, including sensory perception, pain and stress responses, leaning and cognition as well as social behaviour 
  • Coverage of latest wearable, video and acoustic technologies to monitor chicken welfare 
  • Comprehensive coverage of welfare issues across the value chain, from hatcheries to catching, transport and slaughter

What others are saying...

"Professor Christine Nicol is one of the foremost scientists in poultry behaviour and welfare. The list of authors comprise not only senior scientists but also promising young poultry ethologists with expertise in particular fields of poultry behaviour and welfare. I am convinced that the publication will find a great number of readers in Europe, America, Australia and Asia.”Emeritus Professor Werner Bessei, University of Hohenheim, Germany

“Christine Nicol is an international star in her own right and has assembled a highly impressive team. This book will be an excellent source of new knowledge and understanding for all those actively concerned with the principles, practicalities and ethics of food production from these sentient and fascinating animals.”Emeritus Professor John Webster, University of Bristol, UK

Table of contents

Part 1 Behaviour
1.Advances in understanding the genetics and epigenetics of poultry behaviour: Dominic Wright, Linkoping University, Sweden;
2.Understanding poultry sensory perception: Birte Nielsen, INRA, France;
3.Understanding poultry pain/stress response: Ian Duncan, University of Guelph, Canada;
4.Understanding poultry learning and cognition: Raf Freire, Charles Sturt University, Australia;
5.Understanding poultry social behaviours: Inma Estevez, Neiker-Tecnalia/Basque Foundation for Science, Spain;
6.Poultry welfare monitoring: wearable technologies: Dana Campbell, CSIRO, Australia;
7.Poultry welfare monitoring: video/acoustic technologies: Marian Dawkins, University of Oxford, UK;
8.Improving welfare assessment indicators/protocols for poultry: Linda Keeling, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden;

Part 2 Welfare issues in breeding, management and housing
9.Welfare issues affecting broiler breeders: Anja Brinch Riber, Aarhus University, Denmark;
10.Welfare issues in the early life of poultry: Elske de Haas, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
11.Welfare issues in poultry housing and management: broilers: Ingrid De Jong, Wageningen University, The Netherlands;
12.Welfare issues in poultry housing and management: laying hens: Victoria Sandilands, SRUC, UK;
13.The role of environmental enrichment in poultry welfare: Lars Schrader, Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Germany;
14.Improving welfare in catching and transport of broiler chickens: Frank Tuyttens, ILVO, Belgium;
15.Improving welfare in poultry slaughter: Dorothy McKeegan, University of Glasgow, UK;
16.Cause and prevention of injurious pecking in poultry: Alexandra Harlander, University of Guelph, Canada;
17.Poultry health monitoring and management: bone health in layers: Mike Toscano, Veterinary Public Health Institute - University of Bern, Switzerland;
18.Poultry health monitoring and management: bone and skin health in broilers: Gina Caplen, University of Bristol, UK;