Effect of rearing techniques and feed composition on productive traits, bird welfare and quality of poultry products

Folegatti, Elisa (2010) Effect of rearing techniques and feed composition on productive traits, bird welfare and quality of poultry products, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze degli alimenti, 21 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/2794.
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The PhD project was focused on the study of the poultry welfare conditions and improvements. The project work was divided into 3 main research activities. A) Field evaluation of chicken meat rearing conditions kept in intensive farms. Considering the lack of published reports concerning the overall Italian rearing conditions of broiler chickens, a survey was carried out to assess the welfare conditions of broiler reared in the most important poultry companies in Italy to verify if they are in accordance with the advices given in the European proposal COM (2005) 221 final. Chicken farm conditions, carcass lesions and meat quality were investigated. 1. The densities currently used in Italy are in accordance with the European proposal COM 221 final (2005) which suggests to keep broilers at a density lower than 30-32 kg live weight/m2 and to not exceed 38-40 kg live weight/m2. 2. The mortality rates in summer and winter agree with the mortality score calculated following the formula reported in the EU Proposal COM 221 final (2005). 3. The incidence of damaged carcasses was very low and did not seem related to the stocking density. 4. The FPD scores were generally above the maximum limit advised by the EU proposal COM 221 final (2005), although the stocking densities were lower than 30-32 kg live weight per m2. 5. It can be stated that the control of the environmental conditions, particularly litter quality, appears a key issue to control the onset of foot dermatitis. B) Manipulation of several farm parameters, such litter material and depth, stocking density and light regimen to improve the chicken welfare conditions, in winter season. 1. Even though 2 different stocking densities were established in this study, the performances achieved from the chickens were almost identical among groups. 2. The FCR was significantly better in Standard conditions contrarily to birds reared in Welfare conditions with lower stocking density, more litter material and with a light program of 16 hours light and 8 hours dark. 3. In our trial, in Standard groups we observed a higher content of moisture, nitrogen and ammonia released from the litter. Therefore it can be assumed that the environmental characteristics have been positively changed by the improvements of the rearing conditions adopted for Welfare groups. 4. In Welfare groups the exhausted litters of the pens were dryer and broilers showed a lower occurrence of FPD. 5. The prevalence of hock burn lesions, like FPD, is high with poor litter quality conditions. 6. The combined effect of a lower stocking density, a greater amount of litter material and a photoperiod similar to the natural one, have positively influenced the chickens welfare status, as a matter of fact the occurrence of FPD in Welfare groups was the lowest keeping the score under the European threshold of the proposal COM 221 final(2005). C) The purpose of the third research was to study the effect of high or low stocking density of broiler chickens, different types of litter and the adoption of short or long lighting regimen on broiler welfare through the evaluation of their productivity and incidence of foot pad dermatitis during the hot season. 1. The feed efficiency was better for the Low Density than for High Density broilers. 2. The appearance of FPD was not influenced by stocking density. 3. The foot examination revealed that the lesions occurred more in birds maintained on chopped wheat straw than on wood shaving. 4. In conclusion, the adoptions of a short light regimen similar to that occurring in nature during summer reduces the feed intake without modify the growth rate thus improving the feed efficiency. Foot pad lesion were not affected neither by stocking densities nor by light regimens whereas wood shavings exerted a favourable effect in preserving foot pad in good condition. D) A study was carried out to investigate more widely the possible role of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol supplemented in the diet of a laying hen commercial strain (Lohmann brown) in comparison of diets supplemented with D3 or with D3 + 25- hydroxycholecalciferol. Egg traits during a productive cycle as well as the bone characteristics of the layers have been as well evaluated to determine if there the vitamin D3 may enhance the welfare status of the birds. 1. The weight of the egg and of its components is often greater in hens fed a diet enriched with 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. 2. Since eggs of treated groups are heavier and a larger amount of shell is needed, a direct effect on shell strength is observed. 3. At 30 and at 50 wk of age hens fed 25 hydroxycholecalciferol exhibited greater values of bone breaking force. 4. Radiographic density values obtained in the trial are always higher in hens fed with 25-hydroxycholecalciferol of both treatments: supplemented for the whole laying cycle (25D3) or from 40 weeks of age onward (D3+25D3).

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Folegatti, Elisa
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze agrarie
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
19 Maggio 2010

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