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Animals 2016, 6(1), 3;

Effects of Dark Brooders on Behavior and Fearfulness in Layers

Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, P.O. Box 50, Tjele DK-8830, Denmark
Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas y Tecnológicas (CONICET-UNC) and Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Av. Vélez Sarsfield 1611 (5000), Córdoba X5016, Argentina
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christine Nicol and T. Bas Rodenburg
Received: 29 November 2015 / Revised: 22 December 2015 / Accepted: 30 December 2015 / Published: 7 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Poultry Welfare)
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Chicks require heat to maintain body temperature during the first weeks after hatch. This may be provided by dark brooders; i.e. , horizontal heating elements equipped with curtains. The objective was to test effects of rearing layer chicks with dark brooders on time budget and fearfulness. Behavioral observations were performed during the first six weeks of age. Three different fear tests were conducted when the birds were age 3–6, 14–15 and 26–28 weeks. During the first four days, brooder chicks rested more than control chicks whereas they spent less time drinking, feather pecking and on locomotion ( p ≤ 0.009). On days 16, 23, 30 and 42, brooder chicks spent less time on feather pecking, locomotion and fleeing ( p ≤ 0.01) whereas foraging and dust bathing occurred more often on day 42 ( p ≤ 0.032). Brooder birds had shorter durations of tonic immobility at all ages ( p = 0.0032), moved closer to the novel object at age 15 weeks ( p < 0.0001), and had shorter latencies to initiate locomotion in the open-field test at age 28 weeks ( p < 0.0001). Results support the suggestion that dark brooders can be a successful method of reducing or preventing fear and feather pecking in layers. View Full-Text
Keywords: activity; behavior; brooders; fear; laying hen; novel object; open-field; poultry; tonic immobility; welfare activity; behavior; brooders; fear; laying hen; novel object; open-field; poultry; tonic immobility; welfare

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Riber, A.B.; Guzman, D.A. Effects of Dark Brooders on Behavior and Fearfulness in Layers. Animals 2016, 6, 3.

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