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PhD Using Spatial Distribution and Behaviour to Determine Optimal Space Allowances for Poultry

whisper

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Iraq Professor at Vet School
Using Spatial Distribution and Behaviour to Determine Optimal Space Allowances for Poultry and Rabbits
Stephanie Buijs
Abstract
Previous research on the effect of stocking density on welfare has focused on adverse
effects on health and behaviour. Absence of such effects does not mean that space
allowance is optimal from the animals’ point of view. This thesis aimed to assess
optimal space allowances by studying spatial distribution and behaviour. The
importance of lower densities was studied using a combination of preference and
motivation testing.
Broilers were increasingly attracted to the pen walls as stocking density increased.
This attraction seems to stem from an attempt to minimize disturbances by
conspecifics, which increased with stocking density (paper I). Such environmental
influences on spacing need to be corrected for when studying the social component
of spatial distribution: attraction/avoidance between animals. When such corrections
were made, broilers were found to avoid each other if stocked at densities above 2.4
birds/m2 (paper II). Broiler chickens showed a considerable motivation for densities
below 15 birds/m2. To get to lower densities, they crossed barriers that deterred 20-
25% of broilers from obtaining feed after 6 hours of feed deprivation (paper III).
When environmental influences were accounted for, fattening rabbits avoided
their conspecifics at all densities studied, suggesting that the optimal stocking density
lies below 5 animals/m2 in this species. Furthermore, they seemed less attracted to
each other when a wooden enrichment structure was present (paper IV). Fattening
rabbits spent more time lying sternally at higher densities, possibly because other
behaviours were increasingly impeded. In enriched cages less time was spent on cage
manipulation, social contact and drinking. This time was instead spent gnawing and
exploring the structure, suggesting that in barren cages such behaviour was
redirected towards conspecifics and cage materials (paper V).
The results show the importance of correcting for environmental influences when
assessing the social component of spatial distribution. Additionally, the use of
multiple distribution indices is recommended.
Pages:97

[thanks-thanks]pdf,1.47MB, http://depositfiles.com/files/xoam7s93u[/thanks-thanks]
 
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