Early Stage Researchers (ESRs)

Kathy Broekmeulen(ESR 9)

Project 9: Effects of on-farm hatching on behavioural development and stress responsivity in laying hens

Locations: University of Bern with secondment locations at Newcastle University & Vencomatic Group.

I obtained my BSc and MSc in Animal Sciences at Wageningen University, where I developed a keen interest in intensive livestock farming, adaptation physiology and animal welfare. While studying I have come across numerous animal welfare issues that have arisen in modern poultry production systems, especially during early life and critical transition periods, such as the hatching of chickens. I was first introduced to the hatchery environment during my master’s, after which I decided to focus on embryonic development and the incubation process of various poultry species. I have written my master thesis on the analysis of broiler chicken blastoderm cell viability after prolonged storage. My thesis has given me the opportunity to develop a protocol to analyse the quality of blastoderm cells and to perform egg and chick quality assessments in the hatchery. 
After finishing my master thesis, I went to South Africa for a research internship with the Animal Sciences Department of the Western Cape Government of Agriculture. During my stay, I spent most of my time on an ostrich research farm researching the incubation process of ostrich eggs in relation to embryonic mortality. 
Most recently, I have worked on a poultry health platform, which is aimed at informing and educating poultry farmers on innovative vaccination methods and strategies. In 2021, I’ll be starting a PhD in the field of poultry welfare that will assess effects of on-farm hatching on the behavior and welfare of future layers.