Animal Science Department


The Effects of Social and Environmental Enrichments on Leg Strength and Welfare of Tom Turkeys

Patricia A. Weber, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Document Type Article

A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Sheila E. Purdum. Lincoln,Nebraska: December 2012

Copyright 2012, Patricia A. Weber


Two trials (T1, T2) were conducted to determine the effects of enrichment: A) broiler chick addition on early mortality and B) providing environmental enrichments on leg strength and welfare of tom turkeys. Trial 1A utilized 248 1d poults and 8 3d broiler chicks. Four pens of 32 poults were placed for the control. Four pens of 30 poults and two 3d broiler chicks were placed for the trt group. Trial 2A untilized 296 1d poults and 24 3d broiler chicks. Four trts were randomly divided among 16 pens (20 birds/pen). Trt 1 brooders were placed with assistance finding resources. Trt 2 brooders were placed with no assistance. Trt 3 consisted of 18 poults and 2 broiler chicks and trt 4 consisted of 16 poults and 4 broiler chicks, both treatments were placed with no assistance. Body wt., feed intake, mortality and behavioral measurements were collected. Trial 1B utilized 256 14d turkeys randomly assigned into 8 pens (32 birds/pen). Four pens were enriched with a 1.5m2 platform with an adjustable ramp. Trial 2B utilized 288 12d turkeys in eight pens (36 birds/pen). Four pens were enriched with a 1.5m2 platform with a fixed ramp leading to a platform with side rails. The control pens in both trials remained barren. Body weight, feed intake, gait scores, bone quality, carcass quality, mortality and behavior measurements were collected. No significant treatment improvements were observed for feed intake, body wt. or mortality with the addition of broiler chicks in either trial. Environmental enrichment resulted in no significant differences in body weight, feed intake, gait scores, carcass yield%, mortality or behavior due to the enrichments in either trial. At 5 wks of age 72% of the birds visited the enrichments and at 10 wks 39% visited the enrichments. No productivity parameters were improved with the addition of environmental enrichment; however the observation of use of the enrichment may show a intrinsic behavioral need.

Advisor: Sheila E. Purdum