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Stocking density and stress induction affect production and stress parameters in broiler chickens

By A. Villagra, J. L. Ruiz de la Torre, G. Chacon, M. Lainez, A. Torres, X. Manteca

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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to analyse the effects of three different stocking densities on the production, stress and fear parameters of female broilers during a 46-day production period. Chickens were randomly distributed among nine floor pens in groups of 30 broilers with different space allowances for each treatment; namely eight, 20 and 30 chicks m-2. Chicken growth rate was monitored from day eleven to 46 and indicators of stress, including haematocrit, heterophil/lymphocyte ratio and concentrations of plasma corticosterone, as well as tonic immobility, were measured on days 22 and 46. On day 46, the incidence of foot and skin lesions was assessed, and stress was induced to analyse the response of broilers to each stocking density. High stocking densities cause acute stress in broilers; the effects of low and intermediate stocking densities, however, are not so evident, particularly in relation to tonic immobility and response to acute stress.

Date 2009
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 189-197
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Centro de Investigacion y Technologia Animal, Poligono La Esperanza n 100, Segorbe, Castellon, Spain. villagra_ara@gva.es
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Tags
  1. Animal genetics
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Birds
  7. Blood
  8. Chickens
  9. Corticosteroids
  10. Feet
  11. Fowls
  12. Growth rates
  13. Health
  14. Hematocrit
  15. Incidence
  16. Indicators
  17. Lesions
  18. Meat animals
  19. Parasites
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. pens
  22. performance traits
  23. Poultry
  24. skin
  25. stocking density
  26. stocking rates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed