Article Text

Floor space covered by broiler chickens kept at stocking densities according to Council Directive 2007/43/EC
  1. M. F. Giersberg,
  2. J. Hartung, DVM,
  3. N. Kemper, DVM, DipECPHM and
  4. B. Spindler, DVM
  1. Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behaviour, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Hannover, Germany
  1. E-mail for correspondence: mona.franziska.giersberg{at}


It is controversially discussed whether the stocking densities set by the EU Directive 2007/43/EC allow a species-appropriate housing of broiler chickens. To calculate the exact area broilers occupy due to their physical size and shape, planimetric measurements using a colour-contrast method were carried out. In total, 1949 photographs of standing and 1482 of squatting chickens, taken from a top view, were analysed. A computer program counted the pixels representing the previously weighed animal in the photograph and calculated the animal area. The average area covered by chickens with 400 g live weight was 116.64±13.12 cm2 in a standing and 138.61±12.92 cm2 in a squatting position. These areas increased linearly as a function of live weight to 452.57±58.89 cm2 (R2=0.90 standing) and 513.54±42.70 cm2 (R2=0.82 squatting) at the end of the study (3200 g live weight). Squatting chickens occupied more space compared with a standing position in most of the tested weight classes (P<0.05). Depending on target weights, stocking densities and body positions, broilers occupied 48.5–77.7 per cent of 1 m2. Thus, from a physical point of view, simultaneous resting is possible at any stocking density provided by the EU Directive and at common target weights.

  • Welfare
  • Poultry
  • Law relating to animals

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.