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Poor welfare or future investment? Different growth pattern of broiler breeders
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The parental stock of meat type chickens (broiler breeders) are commonly feed restricted to decrease their rapid growth and the issues associated with it. Among these birds, chronic hunger and stress are the most prominent welfare concerns and mass heterogeneity within flocks a major management challenge. The present study compared small and large broiler breeders of the same age within a flock, with the hypothesis that small birds would show signs of poorer welfare indicated by higher corticosterone concentration and heterophil/lymphocyte ratio as a consequence of higher experienced feed restriction due to competition. It also aimed to characterize morphometric differences between small and large birds within flocks as well as between birds on different feeding regimens; skip-a-day vs. every-day-fed. Heterophil/lymphocyte ratio at 4 weeks was significantly higher in large birds compared to small birds, but corticosterone concentration did not differ. Relative mass of the upper gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and liver of small birds at 4 weeks of age were significantly larger, while relative muscle and gizzard fat mass were significantly lower compared to large birds. 12 weeks old skip-a-day fed birds largely followed the pattern of 4 weeks old small birds. In the present study, no clear signs of poorer welfare in small broiler breeders could be seen and the morphometric differences might suggest different ways to cope with feed competition. A larger gastrointestinal tract might indicate long-term investments and maybe that smaller broiler breeders, and skip-a-day fed birds, are better habituated to feed restriction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 31 p.
Keyword [en]
Chicken, broiler breeder, welfare, stress, hunger, feed restriction, skip-a-day, morphometrics.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-118552ISRN: LiTH-IFM-Ex--15/2995--SEOAI: diva2:815483
Subject / course
2015-05-28, BL32, Linköping University, Linköping, 13:50 (English)
Available from: 2015-06-02 Created: 2015-06-01 Last updated: 2015-06-03Bibliographically approved

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