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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Resting behavior of broilers reared with or without artificial brooders

Forslind, Sara; Hernandez, Carlos E.; Riber, Anja B.; Wall, Helena; Blokhuis, Harry J.;

Abstract

Rest and sleep are important for the welfare of mammals and birds. A large part of the daily time budget of broiler chickens is taken up by resting behavior and the quality of resting is important. However, in intensive broiler production systems, disruptions of resting behaviors are common. These disruptions of resting behavior could be negative for the health and growth of the birds. This study investigated if artificial brooders that provide a delimited and darker resting place, away from active birds, reduce disruptions of resting behavior compared to a control situation without artificial brooders. Six pens of each treatment were used in the same building, keeping 60 chickens (Ross 308) per pen. The artificial brooders were removed at 21 days of age. Data on disturbances and duration of resting bouts and activity between resting bouts were collected on 20 and 34 days of age. Also, as an indicator of the quality of rest, the animals' cognitive performance was evaluated in a spatial learning test that was performed at 11 days of age. The results showed that birds housed in pens with access to brooders have longer resting bouts (260.7 +/- 5.2 vs. 132.8 +/- 5.3s, p < 0.001) and are less likely to be disturbed during resting by other individuals (0.15 vs. 0.48, p < 0.001). The effect of the artificial brooders on both the duration of resting bouts and the proportion of disturbances remained after the removal of the brooders at 21 days of age. The duration of activity between resting bouts was shorter if the resting bout was ended by a disturbance (9.98 +/- 1.0 vs. 61.0 +/- 2.4s, p < 0.001). Birds reared with brooders were more likely to solve the spatial learning task (0.5 vs. 0.27, p < 0.01), but those succeeding were not faster at solving it. Broilers may be exposed to disrupted rest due to the lack of a dedicated resting place separated from areas with high activity. Using artificial brooders reduces disturbances but does not eliminate them. Therefore, additional changes to the housing conditions or management will be needed to prevent disturbances.

Keywords

broiler; resting behavior; artificial brooder; disturbance; sleep

Published in

Frontiers in Veterinary Science

2022, volume: 9, article number: 908196
Publisher: FRONTIERS MEDIA SA

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management
Riber, Anja B.
Aarhus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health

UKÄ Subject classification

Clinical Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.908196

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/118770