An experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of age and pen size on the use of pen space by male broiler chickens. The locations of 18 marked chickens in a large pen (407 msuperscript 2 with 3040 birds) and 10 in each of two small pens (203.5 msuperscript 2 with 1520 birds) were recorded at hourly intervals, 8 times per day, on 5 consecutive days per week, from 4 to 9 weeks of age. Results indicated that the use of pen space was non-random. Chickens stayed nearer to pen walls than expected by chance in both pen sizes and during all weeks. In addition, chickens in the large pen, although not the small pens, stayed closer to their brooding site than expected. The area of space occupied per day and per week declined with increasing age and was not affected by pen size. However total space used from 4 to 9 weeks was greater than in the large than the small pens. Distance moved per hour declined with age in both pen sizes. Although movements were non-random, the chickens did not restrict their movements to small areas in which they could become acquainted with their neighbours over the period from 4 to 9 weeks of age. Possible implications for broiler welfare of the lack of a well delinated home site and continual mingling with strangers are discussed.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Agriculture Canada, Research Station, P.O. Box 1000, Agassiz, BC V0M 1A0, Canada.|
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