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Effects of panels and perches on the behaviour of commercial slow-growing free-range meat chickens

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

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Abstract

Environmental enrichment has the potential to benefit the welfare of farm animals. In poultry, panels and perches are two of the most commonly used forms of enrichment but few studies have determined their effects under commercial conditions. The aim of this work was to assess the impact of these forms of enrichment on the behaviour of slow-growth free range meat chickens. The study was conducted in four commercial farms each with 3900 birds, housed in three independent houses with access to an outdoor area. One house in each farm was outfitted with indoor and outdoor panels, the second with perches, and the third house was used as a control and had no enrichment. In each house 40 birds were tagged for individual recognition. Focal observations were performed from 6 to 12 weeks of age, with thirty 5 min focal samples collected in each house in the indoor and outdoor areas alternatively. In addition, the location (in XY coordinates) of tagged birds inside and out, and their behaviour, was also collected. We did not find a main effect of treatment on the behaviour inside or outside the house ( P>0.05). However, the interaction between treatment and week of age for standing ( P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 165
Pages 103-111
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Neiker-Tecnalia, Arkaute Agrifood Campus, P.O. Box 46, E-01080 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.iestevez@neiker.net
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Birds
  5. Commerce
  6. Dwellings
  7. Effect
  8. Enrichment
  9. Fowls
  10. growing strains
  11. Interactions
  12. Livestock
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Poultry
  15. Research
  16. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed