Modern broiler chickens are genetically selected for reaching higher weights in shorter life spans. In addition to this, they are raised in crowded housing conditions with less opportunity for movement. Understanding movement patterns, migration and use of space is essential in determining welfare of the birds in commercial farms. In this study, migration behaviour of broiler chickens in semi-commercial farms of 1800 chickens was studied. Observations were repeated in six growth periods each on 12 chickens once a day during their growth period of 42 days. It was seen that the activity of broilers was not decreasing during the growth period. Travelled distances of the chickens in total were not reduced in the last 3 weeks of their growth period (p > 0.05 in 89% of the observed birds, Mann-Whitney U test). Chickens preferred to be in the zones next to the wall farthest to the entrance of the house. The observed birds did not restrict themselves only around the feeders and the drinkers but used the whole surface area available during the whole growth period. The results of the study seem to be encouraging in achieving welfare of broiler chickens even in commercialised houses with high stocking density. Reported mobility of chickens is important for their survival and has therefore considerable impact on efficient production on farms.
International Letters of Natural Sciences (Volume 54)
A. Aydin "Walking Behaviour and Spatial Use of Broiler Chickens", International Letters of Natural Sciences, Vol. 54, pp. 66-74, 2016