Effects of post-hatch brooding temperature on broiler behavior, welfare, and growth

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DOI

An elevated brooding temperature during the first wk post hatch of broilers may potentially increase activity levels and reduce welfare problems in terms of non- and slow-starters, lameness, and contact dermatitis. The effects of an elevated brooding temperature the first 7 d post hatch on behavior, welfare, and growth of Ross 308 broilers were investigated. Groups of 28 broilers (14 males and 14 females) were distributed in a balanced way according to their hatching weight (below or above mean), the age of parent breeders (28 or 50 wk of age), and initial brooding temperature (normal 33A degrees C; warm: 37A degrees C) resulting in 8 different treatment groups. Behavioral data were collected on d zero to 6 of age, data on body weight on d zero, 7, 21, and 34 of age, and data on gait and contact dermatitis on d 21 and 34 of age. An elevated brooding temperature resulted in increased body temperature of broilers 5 h after placement (39.9 +/- 0.04A degrees C vs. 39.1 +/- 0.04A degrees C; P <0.0001) whereas no difference was found 24 h after placement (P = 0.35). Broilers reared with elevated brooding temperature initiated feeding and drinking earlier, apart from broilers with low hatching weight from old parent breeders (P <0.0001). They also showed higher activity levels from d one to 6 of age (P <0.0001) and a higher inter-individual distance at d zero and one of age (P <0.0001). Broilers with a high hatching weight reared at normal brooding temperature had a higher prevalence of hock burns at d 34 of age (P = 0.001). Broilers reared at elevated brooding temperature had lower body weight at d 7 of age (P <0.0001); however, no difference appeared from d 21 of age (P = 0.58). No effect of brooding temperature was found on body weight uniformity (P = 0.81). In conclusion, the welfare of broilers may be improved from an elevated brooding temperature the first 7 d post hatch without affecting body weight uniformity and final body weight.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPoultry Science
Volume95
Issue10
Pages (from-to)2235-2243
Number of pages9
ISSN0032-5791
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

    Research areas

  • behavior, broiler, brooding temperature, growth, welfare, FOOT-PAD DERMATITIS, LEG WEAKNESS, LOCOMOTOR-ACTIVITY, EGG WEIGHT, CHICKENS, AGE, LAMENESS, THERMOREGULATION, PERFORMANCE, PREVALENCE

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