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Article

Positive Effects of Elevated Platforms and Straw Bales on the Welfare of Fast-Growing Broiler Chickens Reared at Two Different Stocking Densities

1
Epidemiology, Health and Welfare Unit, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), 22440 Ploufragan, France
2
Direction of Strategy and Programs, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), 94701 Maisons-Alfort, France
3
Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Victoria Sandilands and Tina Widowski
Animals 2022, 12(5), 542; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050542
Received: 21 January 2022 / Revised: 21 February 2022 / Accepted: 22 February 2022 / Published: 22 February 2022
Fast-growing broiler chickens commonly experience welfare issues, such as foot and hock lesions or walking difficulties due to their genetics or the barren environment. This study assessed the impacts of elevated platforms and straw bales on the welfare of fast-growing broilers reared at two different stocking densities. The higher stocking density had negative impacts on foot and hock lesions and walking ability, whereas these welfare issues were partly positively affected by enrichments at both stocking densities.
In conventional rearing systems, fast-growing broiler chickens commonly experience welfare issues, such as contact dermatitis, walking difficulties or a lack of expression of species-specific behaviours. Enriching their environment may be a way to improve their welfare. The objective of this study was to evaluate the benefits of elevated platforms and straw bales on the welfare of fast-growing broiler chickens reared at two different stocking densities. A total of 14,994 Ross 308 broilers were housed in 12 pens according to 4 treatments: 31 kg/m2 with or without enrichments and 41 kg/m2 with or without enrichments. The broilers’ walking ability, footpad dermatitis (FPD), hock burns (HB), weight, mortality and litter quality were assessed. Stocking density had a negative effect on FPD and HB, whereas enrichments reduced the occurrence of FPD and HB at both densities. There was a positive enrichment effect and a negative density effect on body weight at 25 days and on walking ability, but no effect on the litter quality or mortality rate. These results confirm that an enriched environment improves animal welfare in confined chickens, regardless of the stocking density. Reducing stocking density clearly appears to be an important means of increasing animal welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: broiler; enrichment; footpad dermatitis; hock burn; litter quality; stocking density; walking ability broiler; enrichment; footpad dermatitis; hock burn; litter quality; stocking density; walking ability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mocz, F.; Michel, V.; Janvrot, M.; Moysan, J.-P.; Keita, A.; Riber, A.B.; Guinebretière, M. Positive Effects of Elevated Platforms and Straw Bales on the Welfare of Fast-Growing Broiler Chickens Reared at Two Different Stocking Densities. Animals 2022, 12, 542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050542

AMA Style

Mocz F, Michel V, Janvrot M, Moysan J-P, Keita A, Riber AB, Guinebretière M. Positive Effects of Elevated Platforms and Straw Bales on the Welfare of Fast-Growing Broiler Chickens Reared at Two Different Stocking Densities. Animals. 2022; 12(5):542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050542

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mocz, Frédérique, Virginie Michel, Mathilde Janvrot, Jean-Philippe Moysan, Alassane Keita, Anja B. Riber, and Maryse Guinebretière. 2022. "Positive Effects of Elevated Platforms and Straw Bales on the Welfare of Fast-Growing Broiler Chickens Reared at Two Different Stocking Densities" Animals 12, no. 5: 542. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12050542

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