Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 28, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The use of intermittent lighting in broiler production has been shown to result in spurts of activity which appear to reduce lameness. Since intermittent lighting is difficult to achieve in curtain-sided houses, the objective of this study was to determine if simple equipment used to increase activity in broilers would improve production variables. This study consisted of 2 trials utilizing 840 broiler chicks in each trial. The treatments were control, which had standard feeders; ramp and toy, in which pens were equipped with slight incline ramps, which birds had to climb to reach the feeder, and a hanging mobile; ramp only treatment; and a hanging toy only treatment. At 6 weeks of age, blood samples were analyzed for blood gases, hemoglobin, red blood cell count and clinical chemistries. Birds were then sacrificed and scored for ascites and tibial dyschondroplasia. Bone breaking strength and breast muscle tenderness was also measured. Ramps improved feed:gain ratios in both trials. In Trial 1, birds with ramps were heavier. In Trial 2, birds with ramps consumed less feed and mortality was lower than birds without ramps. Toys lowered the incidence and severity of tibial dyschondroplasia in Trial 2. Ascites was not affected by either ramps or toys. In ramp treatments, drumstick weights were increased and the tibias were more elastic and took less weight to break. The breast was not heavier, but the muscle itself in ramp treatments was tougher. Overall, the use of ramps to increase broiler activity was beneficial to the growth parameters in this study, which may warrant possible commercial application of these principles.
Technical Abstract: The use of intermittent lighting in broiler production has been shown to result in spurts of activity which appear to reduce lameness. Since intermittent lighting is difficult to achieve in curtain-sided houses, the objective of this study was to determine if simple equipment used to increase activity in broilers would improve production variables. At one- day of age, 840 male broiler chicks were placed in 24 floor pens. The 4 treatments employed (6 replicates of 35 chicks each) were as follows: (1) Control - standard feeders, (2) Ramps and Toys - birds had to climb a slight incline ramp to reach feeder and had a hanging mobile, (3) Ramps only, and (4) Toys only - standard feeders. Two trials were conducted. Weekly group weights and feed consumption were recorded. Mortality was recorded daily. At six weeks of age,birds were bled, sacrificed, weighed, scored for ascites and tibial dyschondroplasia (TD)and relative heart, liver, and spleen weights were obtained. Blood samples were analyzed for blood gases, hemoglobin, red blood cell count and clinical chemistries were performed. In Trial 1, during wk 2,3,and 4, treatments with ramps had significantly heavier average bird wt and significantly lower feed:gain ratios. In Trial 2, treatments with ramps had no difference in average body weight yet these groups consumed less feed resulting in significantly lower feed:gain ratios. Cumulative mortality was decreased by ramp treatment in Trial 2. Toys decreased the incidence and severity of TD in Trial 2. In general,organ weights,blood gases,hematologies and clinical chemistries were not affected by treatments. However, treatments with ramps (Trial 1) had lower serum calcium and smaller hearts; treatments with ramps (Trail 2) had lower serum cholesterol and smaller hearts.