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

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 […]

Chicken welfare is influenced more by housing conditions than by stocking density

Intensive broiler (meat) chicken production now exceeds 800 million birds each year in the United Kingdom and 2 1010 birds worldwide1, but it attracts accusations of poor welfare2, 3. The European Union is currently adopting standards for broilers aimed at a chief welfare concern—namely, overcrowding—by limiting maximum ‘stocking density’ (bird weight per unit area). It […]

Effects of Enriched Housing Design on Broiler Performance, Welfare, Chicken Meat Composition and Serum Cholesterol

This experiment was conducted to determine the effects of enrichment housing design on performance, selected welfare indicators, chicken meat composition and serum cholesterol concentration of broiler chicken. For this purpose, 480 Ross-308 chicks were assigned to two groups, Control and Test, each with 4 replications. The pens of the Test Group were enriched with perches […]

Forced to crowd or choosing to cluster? Spatial distribution indicates social attraction in broiler chickens

We investigated the response of commercially farmed broiler (meat) chickens to their social environment at five stocking densities, using spatial distribution and behaviour. We used a computer model in which a [`]social aversion/attraction’ parameter was set at different values to give simulations in which the chickens were averse, indifferent or positively attracted to each other. […]

Fear and stress reactions, and the performance of commercial broiler chickens subjected to regular pleasant and unpleasant contacts with human being

An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of regular pleasant and unpleasant contacts with human beings on tonic immobility (TI) response, heterophil to lymphocyte ratio (HLR), body weight, feed conversion ratios (FCR) and mortality in commercial broiler chickens. The following treatments were applied from day 1 to day 21: (1) non-handled controls received no […]

The effects of regular visual contact with human beings on fear, stress, antibody and growth responses in broiler chickens

This study investigated the effects of regular visual contact at various ages on tonic immobility (TI) and heterophil/lymphocyte ratio (HLR) reactions to handling and crating, antibody production, growth performance, and feed conversion ratios in commercial broiler chicks. Broiler chicks were exposed to (1) visual contact with an experimenter for 10 min twice daily from 0 to […]

Effects of the addition of sand and string to pens on use of space, activity, tarsal angulations and bone composition in broiler chickens

Fast-growing broiler chickens use pen-space heterogeneously and have low activity levels, related in part to leg problems. The aim of this study was to test the effects of the addition of string and sand trays to rearing pens on the use of space, levels of activity and leg problems. Broiler chickens were reared in 12 […]

A continuous-choice assessment of the domestic fowl’s aversion to concurrent transport stressors

Characterisation of the effect of transport on the welfare of fowl requires common currency methods that can compare the effects of diverse stressors using the same unit of measure. Aversion of broiler chickens (42 ± 1 days old) to vibrational and thermal stressors was investigated in a continuous free-choice procedure. Each choice-chamber had four compartments, […]

Breeding for better welfare: genetic goals for broiler chickens and their parents

Genetics is key to the improvement of welfare in broiler chickens at both juvenile and adult (breeder) stages but progress is hampered currently by the seemingly conflicting demands of welfare, commercial production, food security and calls for increasing intensification to curb climate change. Animal welfare is therefore most likely to be improved on a commercial […]

Automatic classification of measures of lying to assess the lameness of broilers

Leg disorders are a major cause of poor welfare in broilers. Previous studies have shown that at slaughter age at least 90% of chickens experienced some degree of gait problems and approximately 30% were seriously lame. In this study, a new and non-invasive technique was developed to automatically assess the lameness of the birds. For […]