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Ranging Behaviour of Commercial Free-Range Broiler Chickens 1: Factors Related to Flock Variability
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Animals 2017, 7(7), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7070055

Ranging Behaviour of Commercial Free-Range Broiler Chickens 2: Individual Variation

1
Animal Welfare Science Centre, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
2
Poultry Research Foundation, School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia
3
Research Centre for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ), Division of Animal Welfare, University of Bern, CH-3052 Zollikofen, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 June 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 12 July 2017 / Published: 20 July 2017
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Abstract

Little is known about broiler chicken ranging behaviour. Previous studies have monitored ranging behaviour at flock level but whether individual ranging behaviour varies within a flock is unknown. Using Radio Frequency Identification technology, we tracked 1200 individual ROSS 308 broiler chickens across four mixed sex flocks in two seasons on one commercial farm. Ranging behaviour was tracked from first day of range access (21 days of age) until 35 days of age in winter flocks and 44 days of age in summer flocks. We identified groups of chickens that differed in frequency of range visits: chickens that never accessed the range (13 to 67% of tagged chickens), low ranging chickens (15 to 44% of tagged chickens) that accounted for <15% of all range visits and included chickens that used the range only once (6 to 12% of tagged chickens), and high ranging chickens (3 to 9% of tagged chickens) that accounted for 33 to 50% of all range visits. Males spent longer on the range than females in winter (p < 0.05). Identifying the causes of inter-individual variation in ranging behaviour may help optimise ranging opportunities in free-range systems and is important to elucidate the potential welfare implications of ranging. View Full-Text
Keywords: poultry; pasture; outdoor; range; meat chicken; welfare; Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) poultry; pasture; outdoor; range; meat chicken; welfare; Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Taylor, P.S.; Hemsworth, P.H.; Groves, P.J.; Gebhardt-Henrich, S.G.; Rault, J.-L. Ranging Behaviour of Commercial Free-Range Broiler Chickens 2: Individual Variation. Animals 2017, 7, 55.

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