The effects of restricting feed quantity and feeder space on the behaviour and production of commercial broiler chickens

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Lang, Ian Roberts
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University of Guelph

Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of restricting feeder space and feed quantity on the behaviour, production and welfare of three to six week-old commercial broiler chickens. 24 groups of 30 broilers and 24 groups of 10 broilers were used, with each group being exposed to one of nine feeder space/feed quantity treatment combinations. Feeder space treatments ranged from approximately 2.6cm to 7.5cm per bird, while feed quantity ranged from 'ad libitum' to 60% of 'ad libitum'. Results indicate reductions in feeder space and/or feed quantity contribute to increased agonistic behaviour around the feeder. Feeder space restriction is associated with increased group weight variability, decreased feed efficiency, and a reduction in the proportion of birds within a group that attempt to gain access to the feeder. Evidence suggests body weight is a factor in acquiring feed under conditions of severe feeder space and feed quantity restriction.

restriction, feeder space, feed quantity, behaviour, production, welfare, commercial broiler chickens