Broiler hybrids

Last changed: 05 December 2023

Outdoor range and mapping of problems and factors of success on commercial organic farms

Project responsible: Jenny Yngvesson, Department of Animal Environment and Health; Section of Anthrozoology and Applied Ethology, SLU.

In collaboration with: MSc Åsa Odelros (Expert advisor for Organic Poultry Producers) and Sebastian Holm (Reko Kyckling – Producer of organic broiler meat), Anders Karlsson (professor of Meat Science at SLU) and Katarina Arvidsson-Segerqvist (researcher in Meat Science at SLU).

The variation within and between slow-growing hybrids appears to be large regarding productivity, behaviour, health and use of the range. This variation demands flexibility and adaptability from the farmers.
The long term aim of this research project is to contribute with new knowledge to enhance a sustainable development of Swedish organic broiler production.

The specific objectives are:

  1. Assess productivity (feed conversion, mortality and meat quality), animal welfare (health, physiology and behaviour) and use of the outdoor ranging area
  2. Identify key factors inhibiting development and success factors in management strategies, housing, production and animal welfare in commercial organic broiler flocks.

The project will run from 2017 to 2019 and is divided into two sub-projects:

  • Evaluation of slow growing broiler hybrids

Part 1 evaluates variation and compares the commercially available slow growing hybrids Rowan Ranger and Hubbard Label Organic.

The experimental part 1 will be carried out at a farm in South West Sweden, in a stable suitable for this type of experiments. The broilers will be kept on litter with access to forage, perches and an outdoor range. Health, behaviour, utilization of the outdoor run, growth and feed consumption will be monitored during 10-12 weeks. Registrations will be carried out e.g. using the Welfare Quality ® protocol for broilers.

  • Survey the production and animal welfare in commercial farms

Field data will be collected on-farms in order to describe and evaluate the management strategies, housing environment, production and animal welfare in approximately 10 organic broiler farms and at two poultry abattoirs. The broiler flocks will be visited at approximately the 9th week of rearing when the birds are approaching slaughter weight. The farmers’ will be interviewed using protocols developed from protocols for similar investigations on organic pig farms (Wallenbeck, 2009).


Until 2015, the only available hybrids in Sweden were the fast growing broilers. Now a slower growing hybrid (Rowan Ranger) has been introduced and accessible for the Swedish producers. In recent years broiler hybrids with a slower growth have become commercially available in, e.g., Denmark, and these hybrids may potentially be suitable for Swedish organic production. However, systematic evaluation of these hybrids and their management is generally lacking. Furthermore, the genetic variation between and within the hybrids is profoundly larger compared to the rapidly growing hybrids. This genetically variation poses a challenge for farmers concerning management and production.