Performance of Turkeys in Enrichment Environment with Perches and Outdoor Access under Tropical Conditions

FA González-Zapata JR Sanginés-García ÁT Piñero-Vázquez PA Velázquez-Madrazo MF Itzá-Ortíz EV Bello-Pérez AJ Chay-Canul E Aguilar-Urquizo About the authors

ABSTRACT

Heat stress compromises turkey’s productivity and increase mortality mainly in the final stages of growth. This study evaluated the effect of perches and its interaction with outdoor access on turkey performance in high environment temperature humidity index (THI). Turkeys were reared in 1.75 × 5 m indoor floor pens and were fed with a standard commercial diet, offered ad libitum according to the productive phase. All poults were housed indoors until 62 d of age. A free-range area for a replicate of 8.75 m2, with natural shadow, was available from 07:00 to 19:00 h. Final density was 10.33 ± 0.22 kg/m2. The treatments were a combination of a factorial arrangement (2 × 2) with or without perches and, with or without access to the outdoors. From 10:00 and 19:00 THI was above critical level of comfort (heat stress). In indoors turkeys, feed intake (FI) decreased, and water intake increased, panting was observed, and had a significantly lower final body weight (BW) and FI than turkeys allowed outdoors (p<0.05). Perch availability decreased final BW and FI (p<0.05). Differences in weight of breast meat, wings, or thighs between treatments were negligible. In conclusion turkeys with outdoor access from 62 d of age had better performance.

Keywords:
Heat stress; perches use; free range

INTRODUCTION

Animals raised within the thermal neutral zone (TNZ) have optimal growth due to minimal energy cost of energy for basal and maintenance requirements (Mayes et al., 2015Mayes SL, Strawford ML, Noble SD, Classen HL, Crowe TG. Cloacal and surface temperatures of tom turkeys exposed to different rearing temperature regimes during the first 12 weeks of growth. Poultry Science 2015;94(6):1105-1114.). However, high environmental temperatures along with high relative humidity (THI higher than 28.9) induce heat stress with undesirable physiological responses and is linked to compromised productivity through a decline in growth rate and feed utilization (Yahav et al., 1995Yahav S, Goldfeld S, Plavnik I, Hurwitz S. Physiological responses of chickens and turkeys to relative humidity during exposure to high ambient temperature. Journal of Thermal Biology 1995; 20(3):245-253.). Birds are unable to sweat because they lack sweat glands, they have a limited ability to dissipate body heat by evaporation in tropical climate, they rely heavily on panting mechanism (Vandana et al., 2021). Then heat dissipation at high ambient temperatures by non-evaporative means must happen through the unfeathered heads and necks, and possibly the fleshy structures on the head (Buchholz, 1996). Normally, under free range conditions, turkey’s movement decreased by three-fold during peak heating of the hottest days (≥35 °C), while in cooler days (< 30 °C), movement was uniform (Rakowski et al., 2019Rakowski AE, Elmore RD, Davis CA, Fuhlendorf SD, Carroll JM. Thermal refuge affects space use and movement of a large-bodied galliform. Journal of Thermal Biology 2019;80:37-44.). During daylight hours with higher temperature and humidity index (THI), the turkeys attempt to cool their bodies by different means; for instance, by digging into the litter in order to be in contact with a cooler floor or surface (Farghly et al., 2018Farghly MFA, Mahrose KM, Cooper RG, Ullah Z, Rehman Z, Ding C. Sustainable floor type for managing Turkey production in a hot climate. Poultry Science 2018;97(11):3884-3890.). Also, they will try to take refuge in the coolest areas within the facilities, to avoid deleterious effects on feed intake and growth rate (Mendes et al., 2020).

High ambient temperature and large stocking density (SD) are better tolerated in young turkeys than in birds older than five weeks (Jankowski et al., 2015Jankowski J, Mikulski D, Tatara MR, Krupski W. Effects of increased stocking density and heat stress on growth, performance, carcase characteristics and skeletal properties in turkeys. Veterinary Record 2015;176(1):21.), which have a higher rate of water intake with deleterious effect on litter quality. High humidity in litter affects bird’s health and welfare, especially footpad dermatitis (Martrenchar et al., 1999Martrenchar A, Huonnic D, Cotte JP, Boilletot E, Morisse JP. Influence of stocking density on behavioural, health and productivity traits of turkeys in large flocks. British Poultry Science 1999;40(3):323-331.; Krautwald-Junghanns et al., 2011Krautwald-Junghanns ME, Ellerich R, Mitterer-Istyagin H, Ludewig M, Fehlhaber K, Schuster E, et al. Examinations on the prevalence of footpad lesions and breast skin lesions in British United Turkeys Big 6 fattening Turkeys in Germany. Part I: Prevalence of footpad lesions. Poultry Science 2011;90(3):555-560.).

On the other hand, effects on mobility functions and a poorer skeletal quality were observed in birds exposed to heat stress and high SD during their life (Jankowski et al., 2015Jankowski J, Mikulski D, Tatara MR, Krupski W. Effects of increased stocking density and heat stress on growth, performance, carcase characteristics and skeletal properties in turkeys. Veterinary Record 2015;176(1):21.). A management practice to reduce aggressiveness and mortality rates by heat stress during warm seasons is by reducing the SD (Buchwalder & Huber-Eicher, 2004Buchwalder T, Huber-Eicher B. Effect of increased floor space on aggressive behaviour in male turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2004;89(3-4):207-214.; Marchewka et al., 2013Marchewka J, Watanabe TTN, Ferrante V, Estevez I. Review of the social and environmental factors affecting the behavior and welfare of turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Poultry Science 2013;92(6):1467-1473.). In this regard, (Erasmus, 2017Erasmus MA. A review of the effects of stocking density on Turkey behavior, welfare, and productivity. Poultry Science 2017;96(8):2540-2545.) reported that SD greater than 29.3 kg / m2 is associated with various productive, health and behavioral problems such as less feed intake, footpad lesions and aggressive peaking. High SD increases the disturbance frequency and resting behavior is progressively disturbed (Hall, 2001Hall AL. The effect of stocking density on the welfare and behaviour of broiler chickens reared commercially. Animal Welfare 2001;10(1):23-40.; Ventura et al., 2012Ventura BA, Siewerdt F, Estevez I. Access to barrier perches improves behavior repertoire in broilers. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):1-7.). Heat stress and high SD decrease broiler performance with no interaction between effects (Goo et al., 2019). Moreover, sudden death syndrome is significantly higher in greater stocking densities in the summer (Imaeda, 2000Imaeda N. Influence of the stocking density and rearing season on incidence of sudden death syndrome in broiler chickens. Poultry Science 2000;79(2):201-204.).

Under commercial conditions, turkeys’ environment facilities include only feeders, water troughs, and litter management (Martrenchar et al., 2001Martrenchar, A., Huonnic, D., & Cotte, J. P. (2001). Influence of environmental enrichment on injurious pecking and perching behaviour in young turkeys. British Poultry Science, 42(2):161-170. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660120048393
https://doi.org/10.1080/0007166012004839...
). Also, environmental conditions such as temperature and SD need to be considered, since these factors affect animal metabolism, bone tissue and skeletal properties in fast-growing turkeys (Jankowski et al., 2015Jankowski J, Mikulski D, Tatara MR, Krupski W. Effects of increased stocking density and heat stress on growth, performance, carcase characteristics and skeletal properties in turkeys. Veterinary Record 2015;176(1):21.). It has been postulated that adding perches inside poultry facilities allow a natural behavior in birds and could be beneficial on their welfare (Martrenchar et al., 2001). During daytime, only 10% of laying hens rest on the perches but at night all hens were resting on the perches (Blokhuis, 1984Blokhuis HJ. Rest in poultry. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1984;12(3):289-303.; Liu et al., 2018Liu, K., Xin, H., Shepherd, T., & Zhao, Y. (2018). Perch-shape preference and perching behaviors of young laying hens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 203(August 2017):34-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.02.009
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018....
). In turkeys, the percentage of perching birds peaked at week 5 and progressively decreased until they reached 10 weeks of age, when the birds were unable to stand on the perches (Martrenchar et al., 2001). In broilers, the use of perches had clear benefits as it reduces disturbances and controls aggressive interactions, especially at higher rearing densities (Ventura et al., 2012Ventura BA, Siewerdt F, Estevez I. Access to barrier perches improves behavior repertoire in broilers. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):1-7.). Kiyma et al. (2016Kiyma Z, Küçükyilmaz K, Orojpour A. Effects of perch availability on performance, carcass characteristics, and footpad lesions in broilers. Archives Animal Breeding 2016;59(1):19-25.) has reported a 34% reduction of footpad lesions and further reported that reducing bird density at floor level litter quality could reduce lesions. Furthermore, access to an outdoor area can offer a wide variety of natural behavioral opportunities (Dawkins et al., 2003Dawkins MS, Cook PA, Whittingham MJ, Mansell KA, Harper AE. What makes flee-range broiler chickens range? In situ measurement of habitat preference. Animal Behaviour 2003;66(1):151-160.). An outdoor area is preferred on relatively warm, cloudy days without rainfall or strong winds (Stadig et al., 2017Stadig LM, Rodenburg TB, Ampe B, Reubens B, Tuyttens FAM. Effect of free-range access, shelter type and weather conditions on free-range use and welfare of slow-growing broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2017;192:15-23.), with increasing number of birds coming outdoors during warm days on daylight hours (Dawkins et al., 2003), resulting in higher locomotion and lower resting (Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea et al., 2015Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea A, Leone EH, Estevez I. Effects of panels and perches on the behaviour of commercial slow-growing free-range meat chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2015;165: 103-111.). Turkeys under outdoors conditions can select a diet based on insects and seeds which complement their requirements (Sarica et al., 2009Sarica M, Ocak N, Karacay N, Yamak U, Kop C, Altop A. Growth, slaughter and gastrointestinal tract traits of three turkey genotypes under barn and free-range housing systems. British Poultry Science 2009;50(4):487-494.); food consumption is increased and consequently weight gain is improved (Tong et al., 2015Tong HB, Cai J, Lu J, Wang Q, Shao D, Zou JM. Effects of outdoor access days on growth performance, carcass yield, meat quality, and lymphoid organ index of a local chicken breed. Poultry Science 2015;94(6):1115-1121.). The aim of this study was to evaluate perches use and its interaction with outdoor access on turkey performance in high environment temperature humidity index in tropical conditions.

MATERIAL AND METHODS

Experimental site and animals

Animals were managed according to guidelines and regulations for ethical animal experimentation of the División de Estudios de Posgrado e Investigación del Campus Conkal del Tecnológico Nacional de México.

The experiment was carried on a conventional turkey rearing farm in Yucatán (21° 6’ N, 89° 39’ W) in the summer, between June 11 and September 5. The climate of the region is AW0 according to the Köppen classification, modified by (García, 2004García E. Modificación al Sistema de clasificación climática de Köeppen. 5th ed. Ciudad de México: Universidad Nacional de Mexico ; 2004.), and is considered a sub-humid warm climate, with maximum and minimum temperatures of 36 °C and 16 °C respectively, rainfall average of 1100 mm per year. The rainy season comprises from June to December.

For this study, 240 male turkey poults line Nicholas 700, 20-day-old, were acquired in a commercial hatchery with initial body weight 500 ± 20 g. Poults were weighed and randomly allocated into four treatments with four replicates (n = 15). Every replicate was housed in concrete floor facilities (1.75 x 5 m). Wood shavings were used as bedding with approximately 5 cm of depth. All facilities were equipped with feeders (capacity 8 kg) and bell drinkers. Feeding was supplied ad libitum using a standard commercial (Lorgam®); turkey diet provided according to the corresponding productive phase (Table 1). One bird of each group was sacrificed by cervical dislocation every two weeks; then, initial, and final density were 1.7 and 1.02 birds/m2, respectively (10.33 ± 0.22 kg/m2).

Poults were vaccinated against chicken pox prior entering the farm; two days later were supplemented with commercial vitamins (Carosen®, Lab. PISA, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México) and copper sulphate in drinking water for seven days (1 and 0.18 g/L, respectively). Between 35 and 42 d of age, phosphomycin disodium (Fosfodica®, Lab. PISA, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México) were given in drinking water at a dose of 0.1 g/L. Finally, between 90 and 97 d of age, sulfamonomethoxine with trimethoprim (Daimetoprim L®, Lab. SANFER Ciudad de México, México) was provided in the daily drinking water at a dose of 0.11 g /kg of body weight.

Table 1
Nutrient composition of diets in Lorgam® feed (Mérida, Yucatán, México).

All poults were housed indoors until 62 d of age. Treatments were a combination of a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement with or without perches and, with or without access to outdoors. The 4 treatments were as follow: control (indoors without perches); indoors with perches; outdoors without perches and outdoors with perches. Perches where 3 m long metal square (3.75 x 3.75 cm), 40 cm above the floor, between feeders and bell drinkers. In outdoors system, free-range area for replicate was 8.75 m2, with natural shadow. Feed and water were provided ad libitum indoors. Turkeys had access to the outdoor area from 07:00 to 19:00 h, shelter indoors at night. In each facility, the number of birds perching and use frequency was registered along with panting and drinker use frequency.

Data collection

Productive traits

Feed intake was daily recorded and calculated as the difference of offered and refused feed, between 7:30 and 8:00 h. Turkeys were weighed from each facility every 14 d, using a mechanical weighing scale (Nuevo León®, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México), capacity 220 kg. Food efficiency was determined by the ratio between the total body weight gain and the feed consumed by the facility, in each productive phase: start, growth and finish which correspond to the weight ranges: 0.50 - 2.70 kg, 2.70 - 6.50 kg, 6.50 - 10.50 kg, respectively.

Carcass traits

This analysis was performed by randomly selecting one turkey by replicate at ages of: 47, 77 and 105 d (16 turkeys per age and 48 in total). Prior to slaughter, an 8-hour fasting period was applied, weighing them after that. All birds were slaughtered by cervical dislocation (NOM-033-SAG/ZOO-2014, 2015), followed by scalding (1 min at 56 ºC), plucking, cold-water chilling, vent opening, evisceration, and air chilling procedures. Feather’s weight was estimated by the difference in carcasses after plucking. Carcasses were cut into parts according to standard methods, and leg (thigh and drumstick), back, breast and wing weights were recorded as percentages of hot-carcass weights.

Temperature and humidity

Weather conditions were recorded every three hours from 07:00 to 19:00 h using an anenometer Kestrel® 4000. The temperature-humidity index (THI) was calculated according to (LPHSI., 1990) using the modified formula:

T H I = d b C [ 0.31 ( 1 R H ) ( d b C 14.4 ) ]

Where db°C is the dry bulb temperature in Celsius and RH is the relative humidity percentage/100. A value for THI below 27.8 was taken to signify an absence of heat stress, while a value more than 28.9 was considered to represent severe heat stress.

Statistical Analysis

Data were analyzed using the GLM procedure (SAS 9.2). Live weight, feed intake, feed efficiency and carcass traits were studied by analysis of variance, including the effects of housing system and perching use and their interaction. Therefore, data were analyzed in a randomized complete design as factorial arrangements of treatments. When the F-test was significant (p<0.05), treatment means were compared using LSMEANS tests. To describe the turkey´s growth curve, the modified Gompertz function was used:

Y i j = a i exp [ b i exp ( k i t j ) ] + ε i j

Where Yij is the observed BW of individual i at age j; a i , b i , k i are the parameters of the Gompertz function for the i-th animal, which have a biological interpretation. Then a i can be interpreted as the mature BW, maintained independently of short-term fluctuations; b i is a timescale parameter related to the initial BW; k i is a parameter related to the rate of maturing (growth rate); and εij is the residual error, independently and normally distributed among individuals. The Gompertz function was fitted by using ORIGIN LAB® (2020) software.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The average of the observed temperature-humidity index was 26.58 ± 0.83 at 7:00 h and greater than 28.7 between 10:00 and 19:00 h (severe heat stress) during the experimental period (Table 2). This condition was maintained throughout the whole experimental period (Figure 1).

Table 2
Effect of daytime on temperature (°C), relative humidity (%) and the temperature-humidity index (THI) averages, between June 11th and September 5th , 2019.

Figure 1
Effect of daytime on Temperature-Humidity Index between June 11th and September 5th, 2019. Red line indicates the limit of the comfort zone, where a higher THI indicates that heat stress is manifested.

Productivity and Growth

Results are summarized in Table 3. Final body weight and feed intake (105 d) were greater (p<0.05) in turkeys with outdoors access, without affecting (p>0.05) feed efficiency. On the other hand, final weight, feed intake and feed efficiency were affected negatively (p<0.05) in perch housing system. Stocking density and thermal environment change with age and should be optimal to ensure proper growth, development and rearing of birds. Turkey poults, especially heavy fast-growing males, are susceptible to heat stress (Jankowski et al., 2015Jankowski J, Mikulski D, Tatara MR, Krupski W. Effects of increased stocking density and heat stress on growth, performance, carcase characteristics and skeletal properties in turkeys. Veterinary Record 2015;176(1):21.); then, the ability to maintain normothermia under heat load conditions is a result of efficient cooling mechanisms and/or reduced heat production; where relative humidity plays a role in the performance male turkeys respond to RH only at ambient temperature >30°C (Yahav, 2000Yahav S. Relative humidity at moderate ambient temperatures: Its effect on male broiler chickens and turkeys. British Poultry Science 2000;41(1):94-100.). There were not observed significant differences (p>0.05) in growth curve (Figure 2). Parameters for the Gompertz function fitted to the average growth curve were:

O b s e r v e d B W = 18.91 exp [ 0.021 exp ( 81.79 a g e ) ] , R 2 = 0.999

Table 3
Effects of perch use or free range on body weight (BW), feed intake (FI), feed efficiency (FE) in turkeys at several stages of the experiment.

Figure 2
Growth curve of male Nicholas 700 turkeys adjusted by a Gompertz function in average were:

Carcass Traits

Carcass weight and yields of breast, wings, back, thighs and legs are presented in Table 4. These traits were similar (p>0.1) between ages and housing systems.

Table 4
Effects of perch use or free range on carcass traits in turkeys slaughter at different ages.

Turkeys’ production welfare standards state that floor space for each production phase must be enough so birds can freely move and rest without perturbations. Allocated area should be sufficient so birds can stretch, turn around, preen, grow, and produce normally (Erasmus, 2017Erasmus MA. A review of the effects of stocking density on Turkey behavior, welfare, and productivity. Poultry Science 2017;96(8):2540-2545.). High SD has a negative effect on the number of turkeys walking and standing while increasing the incidence of total disturbances; furthermore, poor mobility affects the bird’s ability to access food and water as well as to escape from dominant males which cause injuries and higher seizure rates. Then mobility is a relevant aspect concerning welfare and bird’s health (Beaulac & Schwean-Lardner, 2018Beaulac K, Schwean-Lardner K. Assessing the effects of stocking density on Turkey tom health and welfare to 16 weeks of age. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 2018;5:1-12.). On the contrary, by decreasing SD, aggressiveness and the number of pecks and threats are reduced (Buchwalder & Huber-Eicher, 2004Buchwalder T, Huber-Eicher B. Effect of increased floor space on aggressive behaviour in male turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2004;89(3-4):207-214.). Perch availability allows birds to develop a natural behavior and could be beneficial for turkeys’ performance to decrease crowding at floor level (Martrenchar et al., 2001Martrenchar, A., Huonnic, D., & Cotte, J. P. (2001). Influence of environmental enrichment on injurious pecking and perching behaviour in young turkeys. British Poultry Science, 42(2):161-170. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660120048393
https://doi.org/10.1080/0007166012004839...
). High density production of broiler chicken influences perches’ use, suggesting that social factors also influence perch use (Pettit-Riley & Estevez, 2001Pettit-Riley R, Estevez I. Effects of density on perching behavior of broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2001;71(2):127-140.). However, perching decrease as turkeys get heavier and when BW is above 6 kg or from 70 d of age, they were clearly unable to stand on the perches (Martrenchar et al., 2001).

On the other hand, in this work, aggressive behaviors were not observed, probably due to the low density which, at the end of the growth period, was 10.65 ± 0.46 kg/m2. The incidence of skin injuries had a quadratic relationship with SD. (Beaulac et al., 2019Beaulac K, Classen HL, Gomis S, Sakamoto KS, Crowe TG, Schwean-Lardner K. The effects of stocking density on turkey tom performance and environment to 16 weeks of age. Poultry Science 2019;98(7):2846-2857.) observed that total mortality was not affected by SD and aggression and infectious diseases were two principal mortalitiy categories that are impacted differently by increasing SD. In this work, the observed variation of the turkey behavior throughout the day and early morning might be related to daytime and THI.

Temperature, photoperiod, and light intensity in turkeys with outdoor access are inherently variable and are not controlled (Sarica et al., 2009Sarica M, Ocak N, Karacay N, Yamak U, Kop C, Altop A. Growth, slaughter and gastrointestinal tract traits of three turkey genotypes under barn and free-range housing systems. British Poultry Science 2009;50(4):487-494.). (Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea et al., 2015Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea A, Leone EH, Estevez I. Effects of panels and perches on the behaviour of commercial slow-growing free-range meat chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2015;165: 103-111.) observed a positive relationship between temperature and outdoor access in slow growing meat chicken. Chickens prefer grazing areas with trees, to avoid bright sun, they either stay close to the facilities or in tree covered areas which are used approximately 60% of their time pecking at the soil, walking, dust bathing and scratching (Dawkins et al., 2003Dawkins MS, Cook PA, Whittingham MJ, Mansell KA, Harper AE. What makes flee-range broiler chickens range? In situ measurement of habitat preference. Animal Behaviour 2003;66(1):151-160.).

Birds access to perches affected negatively the final BW, feed intake and feed efficiency (Table 4); contrary to what it is observed by (Kiyma et al., 2016Kiyma Z, Küçükyilmaz K, Orojpour A. Effects of perch availability on performance, carcass characteristics, and footpad lesions in broilers. Archives Animal Breeding 2016;59(1):19-25.) and (Akşit et al., 2017) where the use of perches in broilers have no effect on feed consumption, feed efficiency and body weight. Martrenchar et al. (2001Martrenchar, A., Huonnic, D., & Cotte, J. P. (2001). Influence of environmental enrichment on injurious pecking and perching behaviour in young turkeys. British Poultry Science, 42(2):161-170. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660120048393
https://doi.org/10.1080/0007166012004839...
) concluded adding perches in turkey´s production did not give the expected results and have not beneficial effects in reducing injuries, in this sense, only 2.9% of turkey’s farmers in Canada provided perches (van Staaveren et al., 2020). Offering traditional perches to broilers in commercial farms, might be a suboptimal use of the farmer’s resources, because their use was negligent (Norring et al., 2016Norring M, Kaukonen E, Valros A. The use of perches and platforms by broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2016;184:91-96.).

On the other hand, outdoor access has a positive effect on feed efficiency and weight in turkeys. Poultry BW increase linearly with outdoor access from 56 d of age. Birds would be more active because they had more space to move around due to low stocking density (Tong et al., 2015Tong HB, Cai J, Lu J, Wang Q, Shao D, Zou JM. Effects of outdoor access days on growth performance, carcass yield, meat quality, and lymphoid organ index of a local chicken breed. Poultry Science 2015;94(6):1115-1121.). In contrast, (Sarica et al., 2009Sarica M, Ocak N, Karacay N, Yamak U, Kop C, Altop A. Growth, slaughter and gastrointestinal tract traits of three turkey genotypes under barn and free-range housing systems. British Poultry Science 2009;50(4):487-494.) in turkeys and (Moyle et al., 2014Moyle JR, Arsi K, Woo-Ming A, Arambel H, Fanatico A, Blore PJ, et al. Growth performance of fast-growing broilers reared under different types of production systems with outdoor access: Implications for organic and alternative production systems. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 2014;23(2):212-220.) in fast-growing broilers did not observe effects on feed intake, feed efficiency and weight gain with outdoor access; while (Wang et al., 2009Wang KH, Shi SR, Dou TC, Sun HJ. Effect of a free-range raising system on growth performance, carcass yield, and meat quality of slow-growing chicken. Poultry Science 2009;88(10):2219-2223.) found that an outdoor system could reduce growth performance significantly in slow-growing chickens. There are many factors that affect production systems with outdoor access, including relative humidity and ambient temperature, which are inherently variable and are not controlled. Although birds can have access to insects, worms, seeds and forages (Fanatico et al., 2005Fanatico AC, Pillai PB, Cavitt LC, Owens CM, Emmert JL. Evaluation of slower-growing broiler genotypes grown with and without outdoor access: Growth performance and carcass yield. Poultry Science 2005;84(8):1321-1327.). Turkeys reared in outdoor systems spent more time walking and feeding, indicators of good health and welfare, therefore it is recommended over confinement rearing systems (Irfan et al., 2016).

Organic turkey production include access to outdoors and free-range turkey, however, information on types of housing and production systems on the growth and carcass traits are limited (Moyle et al., 2014Moyle JR, Arsi K, Woo-Ming A, Arambel H, Fanatico A, Blore PJ, et al. Growth performance of fast-growing broilers reared under different types of production systems with outdoor access: Implications for organic and alternative production systems. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 2014;23(2):212-220.). Nevertheless, free-range access can be benefical, by allowing birds to develop natural behaviors which are not reachable in indoor systems (Stadig et al., 2017Stadig LM, Rodenburg TB, Ampe B, Reubens B, Tuyttens FAM. Effect of free-range access, shelter type and weather conditions on free-range use and welfare of slow-growing broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2017;192:15-23.). Effects of treatments and slaughter age on hot carcass, breast and wings, back, thighs and legs was not observed, which was consistent with other authors in studies on turkeys (Sarica et al., 2009Sarica M, Ocak N, Karacay N, Yamak U, Kop C, Altop A. Growth, slaughter and gastrointestinal tract traits of three turkey genotypes under barn and free-range housing systems. British Poultry Science 2009;50(4):487-494.) or poultry broilers (Fanatico et al., 2005Fanatico AC, Pillai PB, Cavitt LC, Owens CM, Emmert JL. Evaluation of slower-growing broiler genotypes grown with and without outdoor access: Growth performance and carcass yield. Poultry Science 2005;84(8):1321-1327.; Wang et al., 2009Wang KH, Shi SR, Dou TC, Sun HJ. Effect of a free-range raising system on growth performance, carcass yield, and meat quality of slow-growing chicken. Poultry Science 2009;88(10):2219-2223.; Chen et al., 2013Chen X, Jiang W, Tan HZ, Xu GF, Zhang XB, Wei S, et al. Effects of outdoor access on growth performance, carcass composition, and meat characteristics of broiler chickens. Poultry Science 2013;92(2):435-443.). Carcass yield and meat sensory quality attributes are influenced by the rearing systems and consumers preferred meat from birds reared under free-range system due to better sensory attributes (Irfan et al., 2016). On the other hand, perches use can potentially improve health status and welfare of the birds without effect on carcass quality and proportions of carcass (Kiyma et al., 2016Kiyma Z, Küçükyilmaz K, Orojpour A. Effects of perch availability on performance, carcass characteristics, and footpad lesions in broilers. Archives Animal Breeding 2016;59(1):19-25.).

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, perch availability and their use were negligent, during the first weeks of rearing. They were frequently used in turkeys under 6.05 ± 0.10 kg and had a negative impact on performance. On the other hand, outdoor access system decreases effects of heat stress and improve turkey performance, while improving animal welfare. There was no effect on carcass traits. However, more studies are needed to determine which factors affect consumer preferences and welfare concerns, which impact the development of housing and management alternative systems in fast-growing turkeys.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The first author is grateful for the research grant (893920) provided by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT) for his postgraduate studies at the Tecnológico Nacional de México, Campus Conkal.

REFERENCES

  • Aksit M, Kaçamakli Yardim Z, Yalcin S. Einfluss der umweltanreicherung auf die leistung und die fleischqualität von broilern: Effekte der lichtquelle und das anbietens von sitzstangen. European Poultry Science 2017;81(6).
  • Beaulac K, Classen HL, Gomis S, Sakamoto KS, Crowe TG, Schwean-Lardner K. The effects of stocking density on turkey tom performance and environment to 16 weeks of age. Poultry Science 2019;98(7):2846-2857.
  • Beaulac K, Schwean-Lardner K. Assessing the effects of stocking density on Turkey tom health and welfare to 16 weeks of age. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 2018;5:1-12.
  • Blokhuis HJ. Rest in poultry. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 1984;12(3):289-303.
  • Buchholz R. Thermoregulatory role of the unfeathered head and neck in male wild turkeys. The Auk 1995;113(2):310-318.
  • Buchwalder T, Huber-Eicher B. Effect of increased floor space on aggressive behaviour in male turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2004;89(3-4):207-214.
  • Chen X, Jiang W, Tan HZ, Xu GF, Zhang XB, Wei S, et al. Effects of outdoor access on growth performance, carcass composition, and meat characteristics of broiler chickens. Poultry Science 2013;92(2):435-443.
  • Dawkins MS, Cook PA, Whittingham MJ, Mansell KA, Harper AE. What makes flee-range broiler chickens range? In situ measurement of habitat preference. Animal Behaviour 2003;66(1):151-160.
  • Erasmus MA. A review of the effects of stocking density on Turkey behavior, welfare, and productivity. Poultry Science 2017;96(8):2540-2545.
  • Fanatico AC, Pillai PB, Cavitt LC, Owens CM, Emmert JL. Evaluation of slower-growing broiler genotypes grown with and without outdoor access: Growth performance and carcass yield. Poultry Science 2005;84(8):1321-1327.
  • Farghly MFA, Mahrose KM, Cooper RG, Ullah Z, Rehman Z, Ding C. Sustainable floor type for managing Turkey production in a hot climate. Poultry Science 2018;97(11):3884-3890.
  • García E. Modificación al Sistema de clasificación climática de Köeppen. 5th ed. Ciudad de México: Universidad Nacional de Mexico ; 2004.
  • Goo D, Kim JH, Park GH, Reyes JBD, Ki, DY. Effect of heat stress and stocking density on growth performance, breast meat quality, and intestinal barrier function in broiler chickens. Animals 2019;9(3).
  • Hall AL. The effect of stocking density on the welfare and behaviour of broiler chickens reared commercially. Animal Welfare 2001;10(1):23-40.
  • Imaeda N. Influence of the stocking density and rearing season on incidence of sudden death syndrome in broiler chickens. Poultry Science 2000;79(2):201-204.
  • Irfan Javid A, Ashraf M, Mahmud A, Altaf M, Hussain SM, Azmat H, et al. Time-budgets of turkeys (Maleagris gallopavo) reared under confinement and free range rearing systems. Pakistan Journal of Zoology 2016;48(6):1951-1956.
  • Jankowski J, Mikulski D, Tatara MR, Krupski W. Effects of increased stocking density and heat stress on growth, performance, carcase characteristics and skeletal properties in turkeys. Veterinary Record 2015;176(1):21.
  • Kiyma Z, Küçükyilmaz K, Orojpour A. Effects of perch availability on performance, carcass characteristics, and footpad lesions in broilers. Archives Animal Breeding 2016;59(1):19-25.
  • Krautwald-Junghanns ME, Ellerich R, Mitterer-Istyagin H, Ludewig M, Fehlhaber K, Schuster E, et al. Examinations on the prevalence of footpad lesions and breast skin lesions in British United Turkeys Big 6 fattening Turkeys in Germany. Part I: Prevalence of footpad lesions. Poultry Science 2011;90(3):555-560.
  • Liu, K., Xin, H., Shepherd, T., & Zhao, Y. (2018). Perch-shape preference and perching behaviors of young laying hens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 203(August 2017):34-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.02.009
    » https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.02.009
  • LPHSI - Livestock and Poultry Heat Stress Indices. Agricultural engineering technology guide. Clemson: Clemson University; 1990.
  • Marchewka J, Watanabe TTN, Ferrante V, Estevez I. Review of the social and environmental factors affecting the behavior and welfare of turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Poultry Science 2013;92(6):1467-1473.
  • Martrenchar, A., Huonnic, D., & Cotte, J. P. (2001). Influence of environmental enrichment on injurious pecking and perching behaviour in young turkeys. British Poultry Science, 42(2):161-170. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660120048393
    » https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660120048393
  • Martrenchar A, Huonnic D, Cotte JP, Boilletot E, Morisse JP. Influence of stocking density on behavioural, health and productivity traits of turkeys in large flocks. British Poultry Science 1999;40(3):323-331.
  • Mayes SL, Strawford ML, Noble SD, Classen HL, Crowe TG. Cloacal and surface temperatures of tom turkeys exposed to different rearing temperature regimes during the first 12 weeks of growth. Poultry Science 2015;94(6):1105-1114.
  • Moyle JR, Arsi K, Woo-Ming A, Arambel H, Fanatico A, Blore PJ, et al. Growth performance of fast-growing broilers reared under different types of production systems with outdoor access: Implications for organic and alternative production systems. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 2014;23(2):212-220.
  • NOM-033-SAG/ZOO-2014. Norma oficial mexicana. Métodos para dar muerte a los animales domésticos y silvestres. Diario Oficial de la Federación 2015;6(19):387-387).
  • Norring M, Kaukonen E, Valros A. The use of perches and platforms by broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2016;184:91-96.
  • Pettit-Riley R, Estevez I. Effects of density on perching behavior of broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2001;71(2):127-140.
  • Rakowski AE, Elmore RD, Davis CA, Fuhlendorf SD, Carroll JM. Thermal refuge affects space use and movement of a large-bodied galliform. Journal of Thermal Biology 2019;80:37-44.
  • Rodriguez-Aurrekoetxea A, Leone EH, Estevez I. Effects of panels and perches on the behaviour of commercial slow-growing free-range meat chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2015;165: 103-111.
  • Sarica M, Ocak N, Karacay N, Yamak U, Kop C, Altop A. Growth, slaughter and gastrointestinal tract traits of three turkey genotypes under barn and free-range housing systems. British Poultry Science 2009;50(4):487-494.
  • Stadig LM, Rodenburg TB, Ampe B, Reubens B, Tuyttens FAM. Effect of free-range access, shelter type and weather conditions on free-range use and welfare of slow-growing broiler chickens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2017;192:15-23.
  • Tong HB, Cai J, Lu J, Wang Q, Shao D, Zou JM. Effects of outdoor access days on growth performance, carcass yield, meat quality, and lymphoid organ index of a local chicken breed. Poultry Science 2015;94(6):1115-1121.
  • Van Staaveren N, Leishman EM, Adams SM, Wood BJ, Harlander-Matauschek A, Baes CF. Housing and management of turkey flocks in Canada. Animals 2020;10(7):1-17.
  • Ventura BA, Siewerdt F, Estevez I. Access to barrier perches improves behavior repertoire in broilers. PLoS ONE 2012;7(1):1-7.
  • Wang KH, Shi SR, Dou TC, Sun HJ. Effect of a free-range raising system on growth performance, carcass yield, and meat quality of slow-growing chicken. Poultry Science 2009;88(10):2219-2223.
  • Yahav S. Relative humidity at moderate ambient temperatures: Its effect on male broiler chickens and turkeys. British Poultry Science 2000;41(1):94-100.
  • Yahav S, Goldfeld S, Plavnik I, Hurwitz S. Physiological responses of chickens and turkeys to relative humidity during exposure to high ambient temperature. Journal of Thermal Biology 1995; 20(3):245-253.

  • COMPLIANCE WITH ETHICAL STANDARDS Legal statement of the experiment

    Under Mexican law, published in the Official Standard NOM-062-ZOO-1999, it has been complied with animal care throughout the development of this research in animal owned by the Instituto Tecnológico de Conkal.
  • 2
    STATEMENT OF ANIMAL RIGHTS All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    22 Apr 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    09 Aug 2021
  • Accepted
    19 Nov 2021
Fundação APINCO de Ciência e Tecnologia Avícolas Av. Andrade Neves, 2501 - Castelo, 13070-001 Campinas SP - Brazil, Tel.: (55 19) 3243-6555 / Fax.: (55 19) 3243-8542 - Campinas - SP - Brazil
E-mail: rvfacta@terra.com.br