Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Variations in stress responsivity in hens: matching birds to environments

Project description

Studying factors responsible for hens’ stress

The welfare of birds in the poultry industry is of vital importance since it affects the quality of eggs, productivity and health of the hens. In addition, consumers want to purchase eggs from hens kept in high welfare conditions. However, according to experts, commercially-housed laying hens may be exposed to chronic stress, due to housing conditions that result in undesirable outcomes such as higher levels of keel bone damage and feather pecking. The EU-funded CHICKENSTRESS project aims to study factors responsible for hens’ stress and what makes them stress-resistant. The project will create an international network of experts in avian brain research, genetics, laying hen welfare and the poultry industry. It will train researchers with advanced knowledge in hen farming, environmental factors related to egg production, and hen welfare.


Because of the high demand for eggs, large numbers of hens are farmed in modern egg production. Because of the intensity of this form of farming, the public has justifiably been concerned about the welfare of these birds. Higher welfare also leads to higher quality eggs, higher productivity, and lower incidence of disease and therefore lower need for antibiotics.
We aim to reduce the chronic stress experienced by hens. To this end, we will investigate the neurobiological, genetic and developmental factors that lead to higher stress resilience, and the environmental (housing) factors that lead to chronic stress. Europe has led the world in hen welfare with the complete ban of battery cages (European Union Council Directive 1999/74/EC). However, the replacement housing systems have their own potential welfare challenges. Our goal is to identify these challenges and develop improvements for implementation by industry.
We will train a new generation of innovative and entrepreneurial early-stage researchers, able to face different challenges related to poultry farming and to apply scientific knowledge and ideas to products and services for economic and social benefit. To do this, we will constitute an international network of groups with expertise in avian brain research, genetics, welfare and egg farming. The training will be complemented by secondments in different laboratories of the network, workshops, and industrial secondments in the poultry industry.
The new generation of professionals will apply this knowledge and experience to improve poultry housing systems, welfare, and product quality, which will grow the sector's resilience in addressing growing societal demands for higher animal welfare and healthier diets. Moreover, they will contribute to strengthen Europe's human capital in R&I, increase Europe's attractiveness as a leading research destination, improve Europe's competitiveness and growth, and engage in an improved knowledge-based economy and society.


Net EU contribution
€ 303 172,56
Kings gate
NE1 7RU Newcastle upon tyne
United Kingdom

See on map

North East (England) Northumberland and Tyne and Wear Tyneside
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (11)

Partners (8)