3 years ago

Exploring perch provision options for commercial broiler chickens

Two related experiments involving broiler chickens are presented. Experiment 1 evaluated the use of six perch types: (1) an A-frame design (incorporating a platform and ramps), (2) a ‘flat top’ ramp, (3) a curved ramp, (4) a suspended bar, (5) a fixed bar and (6) a suspended platform. Two of each perch type was provided in one commercial house on each of two farms over two 6-week production cycles. Each perch was videoed for a 24 h period in weeks 1–6 of cycle 1, and weeks 1–5 of cycle 2. Scan sampling was used to assign an occupancy score to different perch components (platform, bar and ramp, where appropriate), and an overall weighted occupancy score also calculated. Counts were made of perching and failed perching attempts following selected scans in cycle 1. There were significantly higher occupancy scores for platform than for bar or ramp components, and this was apparent across the production cycle. This resulted in a higher overall weighted occupancy score for suspended platforms. The percentage of failed perching attempts was significantly greater with fixed and suspended bar perches than with the curved ramp. Three treatments were assessed in Experiment 2: (1) provision of six suspended platform perches (P), (2) provision of six suspended platform perches and four peat-filled dust baths (PD), and (3) control treatment with no platform perches or dust baths. Treatments were applied in one of three houses on each of two farms, and replicated over three cycles. Two perches in each of the P and PD treatments were videoed for a 25 min period in weeks 3, 4 and 5, and number of birds using the perches recorded. The severity of angular leg deformities, hock burn and pododermatitis lesions, and walking ability were scored in weeks 3, 4 and 5, and prevalence of pododermatitis and hock burn recorded at slaughter. Litter moisture and production-related measures were also taken. On average, 26 birds (12.6 birds/m2) occupied the perches, and this was not affected by provision of dust baths or age. Treatment did not significantly affect any of the measures taken. It is concluded that broilers prefer to perch on platforms rather than bars or ramps, and thus that platforms better cater for an important behavioural need. However, provision of platform perches, even in combination with dust baths, did not improve leg health, and future research should investigate greater levels of provision of these enrichments.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0168159117303489

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.