Barley silage effects on poultry behaviour
Johannson, Sarah G.
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A series of trials were conducted to determine the effect of feeding barley silage to laying hens and broiler breeder pullets on performance, stress and behaviour. In the first study, two trials were conducted each with 20 hens and 2 roosters (n=176) randomly assigned to one of 8 community cages. The birds in 4 cages were provided with a nutritionally balanced soy/wheat–based laying hen diet ad libitum, whereas the birds in another 4 cages were given free access to barley silage in addition to the regular laying hen diet. In both trials, the control birds consumed more feed (P < 0.05) than the birds given barley silage. Birds fed barley silage had significantly decreased (P < 0.05) aggressive and feather pecking behaviours as well as time spent in their nest boxes at different ages. Time spent drinking, resting, preening and eating a large particle calcium source was similar between the two treatments. No treatment effects (P > 0.05) were found in regards to egg quality, egg production and bird weights at various ages; however yolk colour was darker by silage treatment in each trial. At the end of each trial, the feather score was improved in silage-fed birds compared to the control birds. It was concluded that feeding barley silage as a supplement to laying hens can improve their welfare without negatively affecting the egg production and egg quality. A second study was conducted to determine the effect of feeding barley silage on body weight, stereotypic behaviour, stress and fear on broiler breeder pullets during the brooding and rearing periods. The 3 week old broiler breeder pullets (n=180) were randomly allocated into 12 straw litter floor pens having 15 birds per pen. The birds in 6 pens were provided with a nutritionally balanced corn/oat-soybean/canola meal-based broiler breeder diet at recommended restricted levels, whereas the birds in another 6 pens were given free access to barley silage in addition to a regular broiler breeder diet. Total DM intake was significantly higher (P < 0.05) for silage-fed birds compared to their control counterparts without affecting mean body weights. Dietary treatment had no significant effect on bird behaviour with the exception of object pecking behaviour which was reduced with silage feeding. Aggressive and gentle feather pecking behaviour was consistently numerically higher in the control birds than the silage-fed birds, although not significantly. Age affected many of the behaviours recorded in this study. Silage feeding had no significant effect on heterophil to lymphocyte ratios and tonic immobility values indicating that birds in both treatments were not very stressed or fearful. It was concluded that feeding barley silage to broiler breeder pullets has potential to aid in improving their welfare.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentAnimal and Poultry Science
ProgramAnimal and Poultry Science
SupervisorClassen, Henry L. (Hank)
CommitteeGonyou, Harold W.; Drew, Murray D.; Buchanan, Fiona C.; Shand, Phyllis J.; Van Kessel, Andrew G.
broiler breeder pullets