Background and aim
Commercial broiler chickens are often kept in barren housing environments. The barns offer feeding and drinker lines as well as litter allowing to perform basic behaviours such as feeding, drinking, scratching und resting. However, even young chickens prefer elevated sites for night-time roosting and also broiler chickens are known to use such elevated platforms. Within the “Initiative Tierwohl”, the area of elevated platforms can be counted for up to 10 % as additional area if the platforms are littered (non-perforated surface) and the total stocking density per ground floor has been reduced by 10 %. Grids as surface of elevated platforms, however, possibly can support the thermal regulation of broiler chickens and may improve the ventilation within a barn. Furthermore, experimental and semi-practical studies have not yet found clear advantages or disadvantages regarding the behaviour, plumage cleanliness, and footpad health of broiler chickens kept either with littered, non-perforated or perforated platforms. Additionally, we suppose that the emission of perforated surfaces will be less in comparison to littered surfaces as elevated platform, because for perforated surfaces the faeces can fall down in the litter and only one emitting surface will be presented. In contrast to that, littered surfaces form one surface and also the litter area underneath will be emitted as well.
In this project, we will investigate on-farm
- the usage of perforated vs. littered platforms by broiler chickens,
- the ammonia emissions from barns equipped either with littered or perforated platforms,
- behaviours and other animal-based welfare indicators.