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Determination of Ideal Perch Space Allowance for Pullets

2022 CPRF,Environment and Management
The objective of this project is to determine the ideal perch space allowance for optimal use by standing and sitting pullets housed in a floor-based system. Data collected to meet this objective includes behavioural expression, production, and bone quality data up to 18 weeks of age. Currently, the recommendations for perch space for pullets are derived from laying hen data, as there is a lack of research examining this topic. It is hypothesized that pullets will require less perch space than laying hens due to their smaller body sizes and lighter weights. This trial will be repeated twice. Four lengths of linear single-level perch space were chosen for testing: 6 cm, 9 cm, 12 cm, or 15 cm. Lohmann Brown-lite and Lohmann LSL lite (1,032 of each per trial) will be randomly assigned to one of the four treatments. Pullets will be housed in 16 floor pens (129 chicks per pen). To evaluate growth and performance, body weight, feed intake and pullet width will be assessed every 4 weeks. Mortalities and culls will be collected daily and sent for necropsy to determine the cause of morbidity/mortality. Pullet behaviour will be recorded over a 24-hour period at 12, 15 and 18 weeks old. Recordings will later be scan-sampled at 15-minute intervals to determine behavioural expression and use of perch location. Video will also be continuous sampled to determine the number of failed landings and collisions. At 12 and 18 weeks, stress will be evaluated using heterophil to lymphocyte ratio, and aggressive damage to the comb and body will be quantified. At 18 weeks old, a sample of pullets will be humanely euthanized, and the keel bone, right tibia and right humerus will be removed. Bone break strength will be determined by subjecting the right tibia and humerus to a 3-point bending test. Dissected keel bones and live birds will be inspected and palpated respectively for deviations or fractures. Regression analyses will be used to determine the relationship, if any, between perch space and other data.
Tags :
perch space,pullets
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University of Saskatchewan

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