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Effect of breed suitability, system design and management on welfare & performance in traditional & organic poultrymeat (OF0153)

Gordon, Mrs Sue (2002) Effect of breed suitability, system design and management on welfare & performance in traditional & organic poultrymeat (OF0153). ADAS Consulting Ltd, Gleadthorpe.

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Online at: http://www2.defra.gov.uk/research/Project_Data/More.asp?I=OF0153

Summary

Background
Over the past fifty years broiler production accounted for almost all of the meat chickens produced in the UK. As a result, only broiler hybrids were available for use by UK producers, and these were not thought to be suited for use in some extensive production systems. This meant that when consumer demand for extensively produced chicken meat increased in the late 1990s producers were unable to quickly identify and source the most suitable hybrids for UK conditions. Furthermore, systems of extensive production were still being developed, and little was known about design and management factors affecting range usage.
Project OF0153 aimed to characterise breed suitability for extensive production (free-range, traditional free-range and organic production) and to assess the contribution of management and system design on bird performance, range usage and animal welfare parametres.
Objectives
1. To characterise performance, behaviour and meat yields in several hybrids by permitting the genotypes to express themselves under non-limiting conditions, and when fed either presumed non-limiting rations or Label Rouge rations.
2. To establish the interactive effects of breed and post brooding temperature on performance, meat yields and the insulative value of feather cover.
3. To examine the effect of range design on performance, bird well-being and range usage when grown in winter months.
4. To examine the effects of brooding facility and range design on performance, bird well-being and range usage when grown in summer months.
5. To characterise bird movement within a standard controlled environment house and a free-range house.
6. To examine the interactive effects of brooding facility and feed and water provision on mortality and performance of free-range ISA 657 birds.
7. To examine the effects of early nutrient intake on mortality and performance of ISA 657 chicks brooded in free-range facilities.
The work was done in three phases.
Phase 1 characterised, across a wide range of breeds, suitability for use in extensive production systems and concluded that it is possible to choose breeds suitable for extensive production systems.
Phase 2 examined the effects of system design and management on range usage and bird performance. Early access to pasture increased range usage, and natural shelter in the form of a conifer wig-wam was attractive to the birds and well used. Brooding in the low-tech free-range facilities was extremely labour intensive and sometimes resulted in higher mortality than when brooding was done in a controlled environment facility. Brooding mortality in the free-range facilities was due to difficulties in achieving an appropriate thermal environment at all times of the day and night.
Phase 3 comprised two studies. Study 6 examined the effects of brooder facility, and feed and water provision during early life on mortality and performance to 81 days of age. In a factorial design, chicks were brooded in the climatic house or free-range facilities, and allowed standard or generous feed and water provision. Study 7 examined the effects of early nutrient intake on mortality and performance and in this study chicks were brooded only in the free-range facilities.
Implications of findings, future work and policy relevance
The research characterised the relative merits of varying breed, management and rearing options, for extrapolation to a range of extensive poultry production systems. Producers may choose from the wide range of hybrids available, those that best suit their production system, in terms of live weight at slaughter, meat conformation and behaviour.
There is a more substantial and detailed executive summary at the start of the attached main report.


EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:table poultry, range usage, breed performance, brooding facilities, welfare, feeding, extensive production, knowledge transfer, OF0153
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Poultry
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication > Technology transfer
Animal husbandry > Breeding and genetics
Research affiliation: UK > Other organizations
UK > ADAS
UK > Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
Deposited By: Defra, R&D Organic Programme
ID Code:8104
Deposited On:13 Apr 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:33
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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