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Use of pen space by broiler chickens: effects of age and pen size

By R. C. Newberry, J. W. Hall

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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.

Date 1990
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 25
Issue 1-2
Pages 125-136
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Agriculture Canada, Research Station, P.O. Box 1000, Agassiz, BC V0M 1A0, Canada.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal husbandry
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Birds
  8. Brood
  9. Chickens
  10. Farms
  11. Fowls
  12. Housing
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. pens
  15. Poultry
  16. size
  17. Social behavior
  1. peer-reviewed