Effect of stocking density on performance, health and behaviour in turkey hens with veranda access
In two trials with turkey hens (B.U.T. 6), the influence of a veranda on performance, health and behaviour was investigated when 50% of the veranda floor space was imputed on the stocking density (SD). The chicks were provided with transponders (normal stocking density, NSD, 85 or high stocking density, HSD, 113 hens hens per compartment) and held 16 weeks under equal conditions (feeding, light program). The investigation showed that the hens used the veranda more frequently in the summer than in the winter. In the summer, they spent 55.9% (NSD) and 53.7% (HSD, X2 = 24.71, P <0.0001) of the access time (24 h/day) in the veranda, whereas for the cold season the opposite was observed (NSD: 30.2%, HSD 34.2%; X2 = 25.48, P <0.0001). The increase in the stocking density led to a significant incrase in mean lenght of stay per visit to the veranda independent of the season (summer: mean 1.24 hrs vs. 1.11 hrs; X2 = 78.34, P <0.0001; winter: mean 0.66 hrs, vs. 0.54 hrs, X2 = 23.42, P < 0.0001). In the warmer seasons turkey hens from the compartments with the NSD changed significantly more often (14.5 times) between inside barn and veranda compared to HSD (12.5-fold, X2 = 208.17, P < 0.0001). Turkey at higher SD showed a significant decrease in locomotion in the winter and a higher proportion of animals with abnormal legs in the summer time. The SD had no significant effect on the prevalence of pododermatitis and mortality at week 16.