Ranging Behaviour of Commercial Free-Range Broiler Chickens 1: Factors Related to Flock Variability
Peta S Taylor, Paul H Hemsworth, Peter J Groves, Sabine G Gebhardt-Henrich, Jean-Loup Rault
ANIMALS | MDPI AG | Published : 2017
Little is known about the ranging behaviour of chickens. Understanding ranging behaviour is required to improve management and shed and range design to ensure optimal ranging opportunities. Using Radio Frequency Identification technology, we tracked 300 individual broiler chickens in each of four mixed sex ROSS 308 flocks on one commercial farm across two seasons. Ranging behaviour was tracked from the first day of range access (21 days of age) until 35 days of age in winter and 44 days of age in summer. Range use was higher than previously reported from scan sampling studies. More chickens accessed the range in summer (81%) than winter (32%; p < 0.05). On average, daily frequency and durati..View full abstract
This work was partly funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Chicken Meat. The authors would like to thank industry participants and staff and students from the Animal Welfare Science Centre for their help with the experimental work, Michael Toscano from the Research Centre for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits (ZTHZ), Division of Animal Welfare, University of Bern, Switzerland, for his assistance with RFID equipment, and Gabriela Munhoz Morello for developing a macro to aid data analysis.