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Article

Minimal Effects of Rearing Enrichments on Pullet Behaviour and Welfare

1
Agriculture and Food, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia
2
School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
3
School of Life and Environmental Science, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020314
Received: 16 January 2020 / Revised: 7 February 2020 / Accepted: 10 February 2020 / Published: 18 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Free-range pullets are often reared indoors, which may make it difficult to adapt to being outside as adult hens. Enrichments during rearing could improve the birds’ behavioural and physical development. Hy-Line Brown® chicks (n = 1700) were reared indoors across 16 weeks with 3 enrichment treatments: (1) a standard control; (2) novel objects provided weekly (novelty) or (3) perching structures (structural) provided. All pullets were weighed at 5, 8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Pullets were also tested in two behavioural tests at 9 (n = 87) and 16 (n = 90) weeks of age, assessing fear and responses to stress. At 15 weeks, lymphoid organs were extracted and weighed from 90 pullets. Pullets were transferred to the free-range facility at 16 weeks and housed in 9 identical pens within rearing treatments. Hens perching were counted via video recordings across the first week. Structural hens perched less than the novelty hens in the layer facility (p = 0.02) but there were few other consistent rearing treatment differences. The rearing environments had minimal effects on pullet behaviour and welfare; greater differences may be seen in the adult hens.
In Australia, free-range pullets are typically reared indoors, which may hinder later adjustment to outdoor access. Rearing enrichments could optimise pullet development. Hy-Line Brown® chicks (n = 1700) were reared indoors across 16 weeks with 3 enrichment treatments: (1) a standard control; (2) novel objects (novelty) provided weekly or (3) perching structures (structural) provided. All pullets were weighed at 5, 8, 12, and 16 weeks old. Pullets (n = 87) were tested in a novel arena at 9 weeks and manual restraint (n = 90) at 16 weeks. At 15 weeks, lymphoid organs were extracted and weighed from 90 pullets. Pullets were transferred to the free-range facility at 16 weeks and housed in 9 identical pens within rearing treatments. Hens perching were counted via video recordings across the first week. The structural pullets had the highest relative adrenal weights (p = 0.03) but differences may not have been biologically relevant. Structural hens perched less than the novelty hens in the layer facility (p = 0.02). There were no other consistent rearing treatment differences. The rearing environments had minimal effects on pullet behaviour and welfare, but data from the adult hens did show some longer-term welfare impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: behaviour; manual restraint; novel objects; organ weights; coping style; adrenal; chicken; CELL-DYN 3700 behaviour; manual restraint; novel objects; organ weights; coping style; adrenal; chicken; CELL-DYN 3700
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, D.L.M.; Gerber, P.F.; Downing, J.A.; Lee, C. Minimal Effects of Rearing Enrichments on Pullet Behaviour and Welfare. Animals 2020, 10, 314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020314

AMA Style

Campbell DLM, Gerber PF, Downing JA, Lee C. Minimal Effects of Rearing Enrichments on Pullet Behaviour and Welfare. Animals. 2020; 10(2):314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020314

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campbell, Dana L.M., Priscilla F. Gerber, Jeff A. Downing, and Caroline Lee. 2020. "Minimal Effects of Rearing Enrichments on Pullet Behaviour and Welfare" Animals 10, no. 2: 314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020314

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