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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ALTERNATIVE INTERVENTION AND CONTROL STRATEGIES FOR FOODBORNE PATHOGENS IN POULTRY AND POULTRY PRODUCTS

Location: Poultry Production and Products Safety Research

Title: Growth performance of fast growing broilers reared under different types of production systems with outdoor access: Implications for organic and alternative production systems

Authors
item Moyle, J -
item Arsi, K -
item Woo-Ming, A -
item Arambel, H -
item Fanatico, A -
item Blore, P -
item Clark, F -
item Donoghue, D -
item Donoghue, Ann

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2014
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Citation: Moyle, J.R., Arsi, K., Woo-Ming, A., Arambel, H., Fanatico, A.C., Blore, P., Clark, F.D., Donoghue, D.J., Donoghue, A.M. 2014. Growth performance of fast growing broilers reared under different types of production systems with outdoor access: Implications for organic and alternative production systems. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 23:212-220.

Interpretive Summary: Outdoor access is an important part of organic and free range poultry production, yet there is limited information on the impact of various housing and production systems on growth performance and colonization of foodborne pathogens. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of different housing systems, particularly fixed versus small portable houses, with and without outdoors access to pasture on seasonal growth performance, leg quality and presence of bacterial foodborne pathogens. This study used fast growing broilers, as many small producers use commercial broilers due to their carcass conformation and high breast yield compared to slow-growing hybrids or standard heritage breeds. Although there is interest in alternative genetics because they may be more adapted to outdoor production, they require longer growing periods, with accompanying labor and cost. A pasture containing a mixture of forages was used to simulate the conditions common for small farms in the local region. There were four treatment groups: 1) small portable hoop houses with access to pasture, 2) small portable hoop houses without access to pasture, 3) a fixed house with access to the outdoors, and 4) a fixed house without access to the outdoors. This study was repeated at different times of the year to determine if there was a seasonal effect on the consumption of pasture and carcass quality. Overall, raising birds in hoop houses resulted in reduced growth rate compared to birds that were raised in the fixed house. None of the production systems altered growth rate, bone strength or feed conversion. Foodborne pathogens commonly associated with poultry were not found in any of the environments tested. Seasonal production was an issue in the small hoop house birds as extreme heat in the summer resulted in early termination of that trial. Expanding on forage choice in pastures and customizing hoop houses to deal with weather fluctuations especially in regions where extreme heat may impact production are important considerations for these systems.

Technical Abstract: Outdoor access is an important part of organic and free range poultry production, yet there is limited information on the impact of various housing and production systems on growth performance and colonization of foodborne pathogens. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of different housing systems, particularly fixed versus small portable houses, with and without outdoors access to pasture on seasonal growth performance, leg quality and presence of bacterial foodborne pathogens. This study used fast growing broilers, as many small producers use commercial broilers due to their carcass conformation and high breast yield compared to slow-growing hybrids or standard heritage breeds. Although there is interest in alternative genetics because they may be more adapted to outdoor production, they require longer growing periods, with accompanying labor and cost. A pasture containing a mixture of forages was used to simulate the conditions common for small farms in the local region. There were four treatment groups: 1) small portable hoop houses with access to pasture, 2) small portable hoop houses without access to pasture, 3) a fixed house with access to the outdoors, and 4) a fixed house without access to the outdoors. This study was repeated at different times of the year to determine if there was a seasonal effect on the consumption of pasture and carcass quality. Overall, raising birds in hoop houses resulted in reduced growth rate compared to birds that were raised in the fixed house. None of the production systems altered growth rate, bone strength or feed conversion. Foodborne pathogens commonly associated with poultry were not found in any of the environments tested. Seasonal production was an issue in the small hoop house birds as extreme heat in the summer resulted in early termination of that trial. Expanding on forage choice in pastures and customizing hoop houses to deal with weather fluctuations especially in regions where extreme heat may impact production are important considerations for these systems.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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