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Behavioural Time-budgets and Beak Related Behaviour in Floor-housed Turkeys

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The behavioural time budget of 140 turkey poults housed on litter in groups of 10-11 in small pens was recorded by individual scan sampling from 1-day-old to 12-weeks-old. Over this time period some behaviour (sitting/sleeping) remained relatively constant, some (feeding) declined and remained low, some (standing/walking, drinking) declined and rose again, while some (environmental pecking, bird pecking, preening) rose and then declined. By 12 weeks the incidence of some behaviours appeared to have stabilized, though others were still changing. A substantial proportion of their activity could be categorized as beak-related behaviour. Feather pecking and cannibalism are major behavioural and welfare problems in intensively-housed turkeys; it is postulated that one reason for this may be because a major proportion of their beak-related behaviour is strongly directed towards plumage, either their own or that of other birds, rather than towards food or environmental stimuli. One possible solution may be to seek ways of increasing the proportion of time they spend feeding.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 1996

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