Veterinary Public Health Institute, Animal Welfare Division


Kathy Broekmeulen

Doctoral Student

Center for proper housing: poultry and rabbits (ZTHZ)

+41 31 684 57 55
Postal Address
Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ)
Animal Welfare Division
Veterinary Public Health Institute
University of Bern
Burgerweg 22
3052 Zollikofen

Effects of on-farm hatching on behavioural development and stress responsivity in laying hens.


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 allowed me 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 concerning embryonic mortality. 

After my Master’s, I worked on a poultry health platform, which aims at informing and educating poultry farmers on innovative vaccination methods and strategies. In 2021, I have started my PhD in the field of poultry welfare. During my PhD, I will assess the effects of on-farm hatching on the behaviour and welfare of future layers.