Broilers

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Study: Cool perches improve broiler growth performance

Abstract: This study investigated the interaction of stocking density and cool perch availability on broiler chickens raised at high ambient temperature (>30.8°C). The research was carried out by The Department of Animal Science, Shandong Agricultural University, Shandong Key Laboratory for Animal Biotechnology and Disease Control.

Behavior, live performance, and the incidence of footpad and hock burns and abdominal plumage damage were investigated over a 4-wk experimental period. A total of 1,152 one-day-old Arbor Acres chicks were subjected to a 2 (cool perches) × 3 (stocking densities) factorial arrangement of treatments.

From 1 d of age, birds were provided with or without cool perches at each of 3 stocking densities (12, 16, or 20 birds/m2; low, medium, or high stocking density, respectively) and corresponded to 48, 64, and 80 birds per pen. The perch design provided 380 cm of linear perching space in each treatment pen. The results showed that high stocking density decreased the growth (P < 0.05) and welfare (P < 0.01) of broilers.

Cool perch availability increased BW gain and feed conversion efficiency of broilers (P < 0.05) regardless of stocking density. The birds’ use of cool perches increased with age (P < 0.01) and decreased with higher stocking density (P < 0.05).

The accessibility of cool perches changed birds’ behavior patterns (P < 0.01) and reduced footpad or hock burns and damage to abdominal plumage (P < 0.05). These results suggest that cool perches have a favorable effect on the performance and welfare of broilers.

Poultry Science Issue September 2013: Cool perches improve the growth performance and welfare status of broiler chickens reared at different stocking densities and high temperatures

J.P.Zhao, H.C.Jiao, Y.B.Jiang, Z.G.Song, X.J.Wang and H.Lin

World Poultry

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