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Title: The influence of environmental enrichment on the health and welfare of broiler chickens
Author: Bailie, Carley Leigh
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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The overall aims of research described within this thesis were to (1) to assess the effects of different types and levels of environmental enrichment on the behaviour, health and welfare of fast growing broiler chickens reared in intensive farming systems and (2) to provide comprehensive information on the prevalence of welfare-related issues in fast growing, intensively farmed broiler chickens reared within windowed houses. In Study 1 access to natural light led to a significant increase in activity levels; however no significant effects of straw bales were found. Both natural light and straw bales exerted positive effects on leg health. In Study 2 a significant increase in the percentage of lying birds provided with perches was apparent in flocks during weeks four and five of the rearing cycle. Improved walking ability was witnessed in birds provided with string during weeks three and five. In Study 3 latency to lie was significantly increased in birds provided with thirty bales compared to those provided with forty-five bales. The overall conclusions from this research were that inactivity and lameness persist as welfare problems in modern broiler flocks. Environmental enrichment, in particular the provision of natural light, has the potential to improve the welfare of intensively reared, fast growing 'broiler chickens. However, the mixed effects of different types of enrichment stimuli on broiler welfare suggest that it may prove difficult to implement methods of enrichment which will improve welfare significantly beyond the improvements already made in switching from artificially lit to windowed houses. Results also suggest that careful consideration should be given to the simultaneous provision of more than one kind of stimuli, the age at which stimuli are introduced and the optimal level of stimuli which must be provided in order to improve welfare.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available