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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGERIAL AND NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY OF HEAVY BROILER CHICKENS Title: Effect of varying light intensity on welfare indices of broiler chickens grown to heavy weights

Authors
item Olanrewaju, Hammed
item Miller, W. -
item Maslin, W. -
item Purswell, Joseph
item Collier, Stephanie
item Branton, Scott

Submitted to: International Journal of Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 2011
Publication Date: October 20, 2011
Citation: Olanrewaju, H.A., Miller, W.W., Maslin, W.R., Purswell, J.L., Collier, S.D., Branton, S.L. 2011. Effect of varying light intensity on welfare indices of broiler chickens grown to heavy weights. International Journal of Poultry Science. 10(8):590-596.

Interpretive Summary: Modern commercial poultry facilities are dimly lit to optimize feed conversion and minimize the incidence of skin scratches associated with higher illuminance and activity. Although the effects of lighting, particularly photoperiod on poultry production are well understood, knowledge of the light intensity on broiler visual abilities and its involvement in the welfare of the bird itself is shallow by comparison. The effects of varying levels of light intensities (25, 10, 5, 2.5, and 0.2 lx) on ocular, immunity, fear, and leg health of broiler chickens grown to heavy weights (> 2.5 kg) under environmentally controlled conditions were evaluated. Results indicated that immunity was not affected by the treatments, but there were gender effects under 25 and 2.5 lx treatments. There were no differences among treatments for either ocular weight relative to BW, ocular assessments, gait scoring test or tonic immobility responses, suggesting that these levels of light intensities did not compromise welfare of the birds. This study shows the positive impact on profits to commercial poultry facilities that are using low lighting environment to reduce hyperactivity, pecking damage, and energy costs without compromising the welfare of the broilers.

Technical Abstract: The effects of varying light-intensity on ocular, immue, fear, and leg health of broiler chickens grown to heavy weights under environmentally controlled conditions were evaluated. Four identical trials were conducted with two replications per trial. In each trial, 600 Ross 308 chicks were randomly distributed into 10 environmentally controlled chambers (30 males and 30 females chicks/chamber) at 1 d of age. Each chamber was randomly assigned one of five light intensities (25, 10, 5, 2.5, and 0.2 lx) from d 22 to 56 d of age. Feed and water were provided ad libitum. Humoral immune response was determined on d 28, while ocular health and general well-being assessments were performed on d 42 and 49, respectively. Results indicated that total anti-sheep red blood cells (SRBC) antibody was not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by the treatments, but there was significant (P = 0.05) gender effects under 25 and 2.5 lx treatments. There were no differences among treatments for either ocular weight relative to BW, ocular assessments, gait scoring test or tonic immobility responses, suggesting that these levels of light intensities did not compromise welfare of the birds. This study shows the positive impact on profits to commercial poultry facilities that are using low lighting environment to reduce hyperactivity, pecking damage, and energy costs without compromising the welfare of the broilers.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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