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Open AccessArticle

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.
Animals 2020, 10(4), 550;
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.
In alterative rearing systems, the use of outdoor space has a crucial role. It is well known that only some commercial poultry genotypes are suitable to be reared in these systems. It is necessary to find a balance between productive performance and adaptability. The aim of this study was to evaluate the productive performance, behavior, and welfare status of six poultry genotypes reared in an organic system. One hundred males/genotype (Hubbard RedJA (A), CY5XJA87 (CY), M22XJA87 (M), Ranger Classic (R1), Ranger Gold (R2), and Rowan Ranger (R3)) were reared from 1 to 81 days of age. The number of culled birds was recorded daily, whereas live weight and feed consumption were recorded weekly. Behavior evaluation was undertaken through a computerized system one week before slaughtering; the breast yield and muscle/bone ratio of the drumstick was also evaluated in refrigerated carcasses. The results showed that A and R3 had good adaptability, showing active behaviors and satisfactory productive performance 3083.6 g and 3022.1 g, respectively. Although CY and M achieved the best productive performance, they did not appear adapted to the organic system due to a higher frequency of static behaviors (rest and roost), mortality, footpad dermatitis, breast blisters, and poor feather condition. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic; chicken genotypes; behavior; productive performance; welfare status organic; chicken genotypes; behavior; productive performance; welfare status
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Cartoni Mancinelli, A.; Mattioli, S.; Dal Bosco, A.; Aliberti, A.; Guarino Amato, M.; Castellini, C. Performance, Behavior, and Welfare Status of Six Different Organically Reared Poultry Genotypes. Animals 2020, 10, 550.

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