Research Article
Volume 6 Issue 6 - 2021
Effect of Two Stocking Densities on Growth Performance, Litter Moisture Levels and Prevalence of Lameness in Broiler Chickens
T Stempa1 and TT Nkukwana2*
1Department of Livestock and Pasture Science, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa
2Department of Animal Sciences, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, South Africa
*Corresponding Author: TT Nkukwana, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Pretoria, Hatfield, South Africa.
Received: April 30, 2021; Published: May 27, 2021




Abstract

This study assessed the effect of stocking density on growth performance, litter moisture levels and prevalence of lameness in broiler chickens. A total of 1500 1-day-old Cobb500 mixed-sex broiler chicks were randomly allocated to two stocking densities of 17 birds/m2 (high, HSD) and 11 birds/m2 (low, LSD) each with six replicate pens. Growth performance parameters were recorded at placement and then on weekly intervals. The walking ability of the birds was assessed on day 28 and 35 using the Kestin., et al. (1992) gait scoring system. Bodyweight and daily gains were higher in HSD birds, while feed intake was higher in LSD birds (P > 0.05), and birds on the HSD had the highest FCR (P < 0.05). Stocking density had no significant effects on litter moisture levels, although the frequency and severity of lameness was higher in HSD birds and increased with age. The highest lameness severity rate was 30% and 3% for LSD birds with gait scores of 2 and 5 respectively; and 29% and 13.3% in HSD birds with gait scores of 3 and 5, respectively. It was concluded that reducing the number of birds per stocking density has benefits for leg health and feed conversion efficiency in broiler chickens.

Keywords: Growth Performance; Space Requirements; Gait Score; Litter Quality; Welfare; Broilers

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Citation: T Stempa and TT Nkukwana. “Effect of Two Stocking Densities on Growth Performance, Litter Moisture Levels and Prevalence of Lameness in Broiler Chickens”. EC Veterinary Science 6.6 (2021): 22-29.

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