Performance, Behavior, and Welfare Status of Six Different Organically Reared Poultry Genotypes
Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Science, University of Perugia, Borgo XX Giugno 74, 06124 Perugia, Italy
Council for Agricultural Research and Economics—Livestock Production and Aquaculture, Via Salaria 31, 00015 Roma, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 March 2020 / Revised: 22 March 2020 / Accepted: 24 March 2020 / Published: 25 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry
In an extensive poultry production system, the choice of chicken strain becomes very important, because it is strictly linked to the use of outdoor space. In fact, many of the chicken strains selected for the high productive performance required by intensive production systems are not adapted to extensive rearing systems. Accordingly, in most European countries, the choice of poultry genotype usable in an organic system depends on weight gain. However, many other traits are important in the assessment of animal adaptability. The aim of this study was to investigate the behavior, the productive performance, and the welfare status of six different poultry genotypes when organically reared. The results showed that the genotypes with the best productive performance were not adapted to the organic system, because they were too static and exhibited the worst welfare status. On the contrary, strains with lower growth performance showed more active behaviors and the best welfare status. However, chickens with similar performances showed a different degree of adaptation to the extensive rearing system due to the intrinsic characteristics of the strain. In conclusion, use of an organic production system requires an equilibrium between performance and adaptability.