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Environmental complexity and use of space in slow growing free range chickens

By A. Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea, E. H. Leone, I. Estevez

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Abstract

Production environments for meat poultry are generally bi-dimensional open areas where birds tend to cluster along the walls. We investigated the impact of increasing environmental complexity (EC) on slow-growing free-range chickens raised under commercial conditions. The study was conducted in four farms, each with three independent houses and outdoor ranges that were outfitted with panels, perches or remained under standard management (control). Forty birds per house were individually tagged and their locations (in XY coordinates) recorded from weeks of age 6 to 12. Total and net distance travelled, use of the central areas indoors, and core areas were calculated from the indoor and outdoor locations. Core areas define the areas of activity according to assigned probability levels, (50, 75 and 100% in this study). Production and welfare indicators were collected at slaughter; incidence of footpad dermatitis, fluctuating asymmetry and growth rate. Results showed an EC treatment effects ( P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 86-94
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.014
Language English
Author Address Neiker-Tecnalia, Department of Animal Production, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.iestevez@neiker.net
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal genetics
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Asymmetry
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Birds
  8. Buildings
  9. Dermatitis
  10. Diseases and injuries of animals
  11. Dwellings
  12. Effect
  13. Enrichment
  14. Feet
  15. Fowls
  16. Growth rates
  17. Incidence
  18. Indicators
  19. Interactions
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. performance traits
  22. Poultry
  23. skin diseases
  24. temperatures
  25. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed