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Preferences of growing ducklings and turkey poults for illuminance

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The illuminance and spectral power distribution in 19 duckling and 16 turkey poult houses in the UK were sampled. Illuminance was highly variable within duckling houses and to a lesser extent in housing for turkey poults. In a free choice experiment, the preferences of commercial ducklings and turkey poults for four incandescent illuminances (<1, 6, 20 and 200 lx; Osram, 60 W, Pearl) were tested at 2 and 6 weeks of age. Four replicate flocks of 12 birds were given continuous access to four compartments illuminated with each illuminance for six days. The illuminances were changed daily between the compartments. After two days of conditioning, the birds' location and behaviour was recorded at 10 min intervals over 22 h. Nine and 12 defined behavioural categories were recorded for the ducklings and poults respectively. Ducklings spent significantly more time occupying the three brightest light environments both at 2 and 6 weeks of age, and the least time in the dimmest. Illuminance had a significant effect on the partition of behaviours amongst the light environments. At 2 weeks of age, locomotion and environmentally directed pecking occurred most often in 6, 20 and 200 lx, whereas at 6 weeks, preening and feeding also occurred more often in these light environments. At 6 weeks of age, resting, standing and drinking occurred significantly more often in 6 lx than in the dimmest environment. Turkeys spent most time in the brightest environment at 2 weeks of age, but in 20 and 200 lx at 6 weeks. This change in overall preference was reflected in the partition of different behaviours between the light environments. At 2 weeks of age, all behaviours were observed to occur most often in 200 lx. At 6 weeks, resting and perching were observed least often in <1 lx, whereas all other activities were observed more in the two brightest light environments. These results show that ducklings and turkey poults have significant but differing preferences for illuminance, and imply that some spatial or temporal variation in the ambient illuminance of housing would be consistent with their preferences.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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