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The effect of supplementary ultraviolet wavelengths on broiler chicken welfare indicators

James, Charlotte; Asher, Lucy; Herborn, Katherine; Wiseman, Julian

Authors

Charlotte James

Lucy Asher

Katherine Herborn

Julian Wiseman



Abstract

Qualities of the light environment are important for good welfare in a number of species. In chickens, UVA light is visible and may facilitate flock interactions. UVB wavelengths promote endogenous vitamin D synthesis, which could support the rapid skeletal development of broiler chickens. The aim of the study was to investigate the impacts of Ultraviolet wavelengths (UV) on welfare indicators in broiler chickens.

Day-old Ross 308 birds reared under commercially representative conditions were randomly assigned to one of three lighting treatments: A) White Light Emitting Diode (LED) and supplementary UVA LED lighting (18-hour photoperiod); B) White LED with supplementary UVA and UVB fluorescent lighting providing 30 micro watts/cm2 UVB at bird level (on for 8 h of the total photoperiod to avoid over-exposure of UVB); C) White LED control group, representative of farm conditions (18-hour photoperiod).

Welfare indicators measured were; feather condition (day 24, n = 546), tonic immobility duration (day 29, n = 302), and gait quality, using the Bristol Gait Score (day 31, n = 293). Feather condition was improved in male broilers in the UVA treatment (A), compared to the control treatment (C). Birds in the UVA treatment had shorter tonic immobility durations compared to the control treatment (C), suggesting lower fearfulness. Broilers reared in UVA (A) and UVA + UVB (B) had better Bristol Gait Scores compared to the control (C).

Together these results suggest UV may be beneficial for broiler chicken welfare. While treatment A and B both provided UVA, the improvements in welfare indicators were not consistent, which may be due to exposure time-dependent beneficial effects of UVA.

The modification of commercial lighting regimes to incorporate UVA wavelengths for indoor-reared broiler chickens would be an achievable change with significant positive impacts on bird welfare.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2018-12
Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Print ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 209
Pages 55-64
APA6 Citation James, C., Asher, L., Herborn, K., & Wiseman, J. (2018). The effect of supplementary ultraviolet wavelengths on broiler chicken welfare indicators. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 209, 55-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.10.002
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2018.10.002
Keywords Broiler chicken; Poultry welfare; Husbandry; Lighting; Ultraviolet light
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159118301321

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