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Effects of Housing Systems on Behaviour, Performance and Welfare of Fast-growing Broilers

  • Zhao, Zi-Guang ;
  • Li, Jian-Hong ;
  • Li, Xiang ;
  • Bao, Jun
  • Received : 2013.03.24
  • Accepted : 2013.07.16
  • Published : 2014.01.01

Abstract

This experiment aimed to evaluate the effects of different housing systems on behavioral activities, welfare and meat quality of fast-growing broilers. Two hundred broilers were allocated into two housing systems: indoor housing vs indoor with outdoor access. Their general behavior (feeding, drinking, fighting, standing, lying, walking, investigating, dust-bathing and preening) was observed, and tonic immobility, fluctuating asymmetry of legs and wings were measured, and meat quality was analyzed. The results showed that the indoor-housed broilers with outdoor access had significant higher standing, walking, investigating, dust-bathing and preening than those indoor only. However, farming system was not found to significantly affect their feeding, drinking and fighting activities (p>0.05). The value of FA of tibia length of the broilers with outdoor access was significantly lower than that of the indoor-housed birds ($1.57{\pm}1.30$ vs $2.76{\pm}1.40$, p<0.05), while no difference was found for the value of FA in tibia diameter and wing length (p>0.05). TI of the broilers with outdoor access was 165.5 that was significantly higher than that (147.2) of the indoor birds (p<0.05). However, death rate in the outdoor run groups was significantly higher than that of the indoor ones ($2.0{\pm}0.81$ vs $4.0{\pm}0.82$, p<0.05). Meat quality was not affected by the two farming systems. It can be concluded that the results of this study may suggest that the indoor housing with outdoor access provides enriched environment for broilers and facilitates the expression of natural behaviors of the broilers but resulted in poorer performance and higher death rate.

Keywords

Broiler;Housing System;Welfare;Behavior;Meat Quality

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