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The effects of environmental enrichment and intermittent lighting on the behaviour and welfare of male domestic turkeys

By C. M. Sherwin, P. D. Lewis, G. C. Perry

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The responses to 4 treatments (2 rooms/treatment) of 8 groups of 50 non-beak trimmed, male domestic turkeys was investigated from day-of hatching to 21 weeks of age. One treatment, 'Control' birds, were reared under conditions close to commercial rearing; the other treatments were Enriched (many varied pecking substrates) and 2 intermittent lighting patterns one of which provided a long duration photoperiod (12 h/24 h) whereas the other provided eight, 2 h photoperiods/24 h. Environmental enrichment significantly reduced injuries due to wing and tail-pecking compared to Control birds and increased the latency to sit after 2.5 minutes forced standing (probably indicating improved musculo-skeletal function). The intermittent lighting pattern without the extended photoperiod also significantly reduced injuries due to wing and tail-pecking, but tended to increase injuries due to head pecking. In addition, in this treatment 40% of the birds were visually non-reactive possibly indicating blindness. Intermittent lighting with the 12 h photoperiod had no significant effect on injuries due to pecking and resulted in only 5% of the birds being visually non-reactive, despite both intermittent lighting patterns providing the same total duration of light (8 h/24 h). It is concluded that although intermittent lighting patterns offered limited benefits in terms of reducing some types of injurious pecking, these were negated by other compromises of welfare. In addition, providing domestic turkeys with appropriate environmental enrichment improved their welfare in several aspects related to injurious pecking and possibly, musculo-skeletal function and blindness.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 62
Issue 4
Pages 319-333
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00215-9
Language English
Author Address Division of Animal Health and Husbandry, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, Langford House, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS18 7DU, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal injuries
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Birds
  8. Blindness
  9. Light
  10. Lighting
  11. Musculoskeletal diseases
  12. myopathy
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Poultry
  15. trauma
  16. turkeys
  17. Vices
  1. peer-reviewed