SELECTED WELFARE PARAMETERS OF BROILER CHICKENS ON DIFFERENT FEED QUANTITY AND TIME
This study was conducted to determine welfare of broiler chickens fed ad libitum and restricted feed during early (08.00hour) and late (16:00hour) of the day. One hundred and eighty (21d old) broiler chickens were randomly allocated to 4 treatments in a 2x2 factorial arrangement comprising of ad libitum and restricted feeding (75% of ad libitum) quantity at 8 and 16 hours feeding time in three replicates. Data were collected on leg problem, dust bathing, body temperature, mortality and haematology. Result revealed that neither feed quantity nor time had significant (P>0.05) effect on leg problem, dust bathing and mortality of broiler chickens. Broiler chickens under ad lib feed quantity and 16:00hours feeding time had (P<0.05) highest body temperature (40.93oC) while those under ad libitum morning (08:00hours) recorded the least (40.75°C). Pack Cell Volume had similar (P>0.05) increase from 26.75% at the beginning (21d) to 31.25 (%) at 56d with broiler chickens under restricted feeding and fed at 16:00hours feeding time. Basophil count reduced from a range of 0.5-2% (P<0.05) to 1% (P>0.05) with restricted feeding. Also eosinophil reduced from 2-4% (P<0.05) range to 0-2.5% (P>0.05) with restricted feeding while birds under ad lib increased from 0-1% (P<0.05) at 21d to 2.75% (P>0.05) at 56d. Better welfare (good body temperature) of broiler chicken could be achieved with early feeding time irrespective of quantity. However, restricted feeding could be explored in broiler production where reduced basophil, eosinophil and stress are vital for enhanced welfare and performance.
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