Effects of different floor materials on the welfare and behaviour of slow- and fast-growing broilers
Litter quality and fast growth rate are the two main issues in broiler welfare. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of genotype and floor material on broiler welfare and behaviour. In the study, slow-growing (Hubbard JA57) and fast-growing (Ross 308) broilers on a slatted floor and deep litter were used; there were four main groups (2 genotype × 2 housing) and each treatment group consisted of 5 replicates. Each replicate group consisted of 10 male chicks, and 200 birds were used in total. The experiment lasted for 8 weeks. The welfare parameters were recorded in weeks 6, 7, and 8, whereas behaviour data were collected in week 8 only. Results showed that welfare parameters of broiler chickens were affected by genotype and floor type. Slow-growing broilers had better welfare parameters than fast-growing broilers. The slatted floor had a positive effect on main welfare parameters of the birds. Slower-growing broilers had a longer distance in the avoidance distance test. Tonic immobility reaction was longer in slow-growing broilers compared to fast-growing broiler. On the other hand, floor type did not affect behaviour parameters. As a conclusion, slow-growing broilers had better welfare parameters than fast-growing broilers and slat flooring could be beneficial to improve broiler welfare, but further behavioural investigations are needed such as dust bathing and walking behaviour.