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The effect of LED flicker on the welfare, health, and productivity of table-egg production pullets reared to 16 weeks

2022 CPRF,Behaviour & Welfare
Few studies have been conducted to examine the effects of light flicker on bird health, welfare, and production. Light flicker has been noticed in some commercial barns and the impacts are unknown. This study focuses on the effects of three flicker treatments, 30, 90, or 250 Hz, on two pullet strains, Lohmann LSL-Lite (LW) and Lohmann Brown-Lite (LB). This research took place over two summers: May-August of 2021 and 2022. Pullets were reared in floor pens in light tight rooms from 0 to 16 weeks of age (wk). Each pen contained one set of perches, one nipple drinker line, and two tube feeders. Pullets were fed commercial diets and had ad libitum access to feed and water. Production parameters examined include feed disappearance, body weight, and mortality. Feed was weighed into each pen and at 8 and 16 wk, then feed disappearance per pen was calculated. Birds were weighed on a pen basis at 0, 8, and 16 wk. At 16 wk, 288 random birds per treatment were individually weighed for flock uniformity. Birds were monitored daily, and dead or culled birds were sent to a diagnostic laboratory for necropsy. Welfare parameters that were examined include behaviour, heterophil to lymphocyte (H/L) ratio, serum corticosterone, fear responses based on novel object and tonic immobility tests, and comb and plumage scores. Bird behaviour was recorded at 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. At 7 wk, blood samples were taken from 36 birds/treatment for serum corticosterone. At 7 and 15 wk, blood samples were taken from 36 birds/treatment for H/L ratio. Novel object tests were performed at 7 and 15 wk with two pens/strain/room. At 8 and 16 wk, tonic immobility tests were performed on 18 birds/treatment. At 16 wk, 108 birds/treatment were individually scored for feather coverage and comb damage. As the second trial has not yet been completed, no results are available at this time.
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Health,light flicker,welfare
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University of Saskatchewan

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