Externally funded project

Investigating the suitability of alternative meat turkey lines for organic husbandry (Ökoputen)

Project Details
Project duration: 03/201505/2018


Not only in conventional, but also in organic turkey farming, there are welfare problems such as pododermatitis, bone deformations, joint inflammation, breast buttons or skin lesions. Beside suboptimal housing and management, the widespread use of very fast growing turkey lines is frequently regarded as one causal factor of these problems. The genetic potential of these birds presumably does not fit well with organic husbandry conditions. For example, their high nutrient demands can hardly be fulfilled with 100% organic feed. Moreover, the high biosecurity standards necessary for the maintenance of a satisfactory health level are difficult to implement in free range systems, and on often multi-species farms. Therefore, it is frequently argued that better adapted lines are needed for organic turkey farming. This is in line with the Organic Regulation (EC) No. 889/2008 which demands that „the choice of breeds should take account of their capacity to adapt to local conditions, their vitality and their resistance to disease". Moreover, „breeds or strains of animals shall be selected to avoid specific diseases or health problems associated with some breeds or strains used in intensive production". However, to date only very limited information is available on which meat turkey lines might be better suited for organic farming. In this project three alternative turkey lines (Kelly BBB as control, Hockenhull Bronze, Hockenhull Black) are compared on a commercial organic farm. The bio-dynamic farm uses 100% organic feed. Over three batches within a 3 years project it is the goal to evaluate the suitability of the different lines in terms of behaviour, health, performance and meat quality and to deduce possible requirements for future breeding.

The project is supported by funds of the Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank.

Last updated on 2018-22-08 at 12:51