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Effects of environmental enrichment on activity and lameness in commercial broiler production

By Guro Vasdal, Judit Vas, Ruth C. Newberry, Randi Oppermann Moe

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the effects of commercially applied environmental enrichments on behavior and lameness in broilers. Two consecutive flocks of broilers were observed at 16 days and 30 days of age to investigate differences between enriched (peat, bales of lucerne hay, and elevated platforms) and control birds with regards to behavioral activities and lameness. More running (p < .001), worm running (p = .006), play fighting (p = .015), dust bathing (p = .009), and ground pecking while standing (p < .001) were observed at 16 days than at 30 days. Across both ages, enriched birds showed more wing flapping (p = .016), wing stretching (p = .002), body shaking (p = .002), ground scratching (p < .001), and ground pecking while standing (p < .001) and lying (p = .003) compared with control birds. Even when no enrichments were close, enriched birds showed more body shaking (p = .008) and ground pecking while standing (p < 0.001) and lying (p = .010) than birds in comparable locations in control pens. There was a tendency for a lower gait score (i.e., reduced lameness) with the enriched treatment (p = .077). In conclusion, enriched birds showed higher levels of several activities compared with control birds, and demonstrated higher levels in areas where no enrichments were present.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 22
Issue 2
Pages 197-205
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2018.1456339
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Behavioral disciplines and activities
  3. Chickens
  4. Environment
  5. Lameness