Preferences of growing fowls for different light intensities in relation to age, strain and behaviour

Nj. Davis et al., Preferences of growing fowls for different light intensities in relation to age, strain and behaviour, ANIM WELFAR, 8(3), 1999, pp. 193-203
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Animal Sciences
Journal title
ISSN journal
0962-7286 → ACNP
Year of publication
193 - 203
SICI code
The preferences of broiler and layer strains of fowl for four different int ensities of incandescent luminaire (6, 20 60 and 200 lux; Osram, 60 W, pear l) were tested at 2 and 6 weeks of age. With each strain, four replicates o f 12 birds were each allowed to move freely between four compartments illum inated continuously at the different intensities for 6 days. The distributi on of light intensities among the compartments was changed daily. After 2 d ays of conditioning, the birds' location and behaviour were recorded once e very 15min over 23h on each of the remaining 4 days. The other hour was dev oted to changing light intensities and refilling the feeders and drinkers. Six, mutually exclusive behaviours were defined: resting, perching, feeding , drinking litter-directed activity and locomotion. With both strains, most time was spent in the brightest (200 lux) environme nt at 2 weeks of age, but in the dimmest (6 lux) at 6 weeks. This apparent change in preference was associated only with the two behaviours which rook up most time, resting and perching, whereas the highest intensity was cons istently preferred for all other behaviours. Older birds thus preferred to be in dim light when they were relatively inactive. The finding that older birds prefer to spend much of their time in a light environment of < 10 lux intensity, depending on behaviour, is contrary to c urrent recommendations that minimum light intensities for broilers and layi ng hens should be increased to as much as 20 lux. Some variation in the spa tial or temporal distribution of ambient light intensity, to provide both d imly (< 10 lux) and brightly (eg > 50 lux) lit environments, might benefit the welfare of older poultry, although further work is needed to establish their optimal light environment.