Free dietary choice and free-range rearing improve the product quality, gait score, and microbial richness of chickens

Siyu Chen, Hai Xiang, Xu Zhu, Hui Zhang, Dan Wang, Huagui Liu, Jikun Wang, Tao Yin, Langqing Liu, Minghua Kong, Jian Zhang, Shin Ichiro Ogura, Xingbo Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Poultry welfare has been extensively studied; however, there is a lack of rigorous scientific knowledge relating to the different aspects of welfare factors and how this may contribute to the production quantity and product quality as well as the welfare of chickens. Therefore, we conducted an integrated study to compare welfare factors in chickens by providing free dietary choice under cage rearing, and further comparing cage rearing with free-range rearing. One hundred chickens each were allocated to a cage rearing group with conventional feeding (CC), a cage rearing group with free dietary choice of mealworms (FDM), a cage rearing group with free dietary choice of mealworms and fresh grass (FDMG), and a free-range rearing system group with free dietary choice of mealworms and fresh grass (FRMG). Results showed that under cage rearing, free dietary choice contributed to better meat quality and gait score, higher values of blood platelets, and a richer gut microbial composition, but poorer egg production than CC chickens. As compared to FDMG, FRMG chickens showed better meat quality, gait score, and feather conditions, as well as a richer gut microbial composition; however, they had poorer egg production and a poorer foot pad and foot feather condition. We conclude that free dietary choice and free-range rearing systems improve the product quality, gait score, and microbial richness of chickens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalAnimals
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun

Keywords

  • Cage rearing
  • Chicken welfare
  • Free dietary choice
  • Free-range rearing
  • Gut microbial composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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  • Cite this

    Chen, S., Xiang, H., Zhu, X., Zhang, H., Wang, D., Liu, H., Wang, J., Yin, T., Liu, L., Kong, M., Zhang, J., Ogura, S. I., & Zhao, X. (2018). Free dietary choice and free-range rearing improve the product quality, gait score, and microbial richness of chickens. Animals, 8(6), [84]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060084