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Zhenzhen Liu

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
email: zliu17@uoguelph.ca

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 I started my M.Sc. by thesis working for Dr. Tina Widowski and Dr. Stephanie Torrey in September 2017. The goal of my research is to optimize the welfare of broiler chickens (birds bred for meat production). Broilers have been under intense selection for decades, resulting in larger chickens that have higher growth rates. However, broilers’ high levels of productivity come at a cost as they are often unable to perform natural behaviour due to the conflict between their body weight, leg strength, and cardiovascular system. Consumer preference for slow-growing chickens that gain less than 50 g/d is increasing; however, little is known about the welfare and sustainability of the slow-growing genotypes. Currently, I am analyzing the welfare of three fast-growing strains (Ross 708, Cobb 500, and Hubbard M99) by focusing on behaviour, physiology, and carcass quality (e.g. natural behaviour, leg strength, and woody breast, etc.). The next step is to collect data on the welfare of slow-growing strains and compare them to those of fast-growing strains.

     I studied Biological Sciences at the China Agricultural University for two years and completed my B.Sc. degree in Honours Biology at the University of Waterloo. Here, I conducted a research project in Dr. Niels Bols’ lab using the cell line, RTgutGC, to test fish feed additives. As an animal lover, I enjoy volunteering at vet clinics and animal shelters. I set my heart on studying animal behaviour and welfare the moment I realized the suffering of many agricultural animals; I want to do something to change the upsetting situation. Once completing my degree, I hope to get into vet school or secure a career in the poultry industry.