A study was conducted to determine whether water-cooled floor perches would be utilized by commercial broilers exposed to a constant hot ambient environment; and subsequently, whether utilization of these perches would improve performance beyond those provided uncooled floor perches. A total of 330 day-old commercial broiler chicks were randomly allocated to six pens (2.44 m2) in an environmentally controlled facility and maintained in a thermoneutral brooding environment for 16 days. Following this period, 240 birds were selected on a body weight basis and randomly assigned to the six pens. A perch constructed from steel pipe (2.44 m length, 5.0 cm diameter) was then placed diagonally on the litter covered floor of each pen. The birds were first exposed to a thermoneutral period (27.7 C), during which time cooling of the perches in three replicate pens was initiated by circulating tap water. The other three experimental pens received ambient perches. Ambient temperature was then raised to 32.6 C for the following 4 wk. The results of the present study showed that utilization of water-cooled perches by broilers was greater (P less than or equal to .01) than ambient perch utilization throughout the 32.6 C period. Average daily gain was greatest (P less than or equal to .01) for broilers exposed to cool perches. Additionally, they consume more feed (P less than or equal to .05), on a daily basis, than those given ambient perches during the heat-stress period. Broilers exposed to water-cooled perches also had a more efficient gain to feed ratio (P less than or equal to .01). At the completion of the study, final body weight and total body weight gain were greater (P less than or equal to .05) for broilers given water-cooled perches compared with those exposed to ambient perches. Total amount of feed consumed and total feed efficiency were only moderately affected (P less than or equal to .10) by perch treatments. These results indicated that water-cooled perches were beneficial in improving broiler performance during periods of high environmental temperatures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology