The effects of floor space allowance and beak trimming on behavior and growth performance of female Large White turkeys were studied. Floor space allowances were 5.6, 7.0, and 9.3 dm2/bird from 0 to 8 weeks of age and 14.0, 18.6, and 23.2 dm2/bird from 8 to 16 weeks of age. Floor space was adjusted by changing pen size to assure a constant number of birds per pen. Results showed that neither floor space allowance nor beak trimming had any significant effect of any of the variables under study through 8 weeks of age. At 16 weeks of age, growth, feed consumption, feed efficiency, feather scores, live market quality grades, and mortality were still unaffected. Beak trimming significantly reduced body weight gain, body weight, and feed consumption but had no significant effect on feed efficiency, feather scores, or mortality. Agonistic (aggressive) behavior was very low in this population of females. Of significance, however, were the nonaggressive behaviors of social "pecking" and "pecking and pulling" of feathers. Feather-pecking activity was unaffected by previous or subsequent floor space allowances through 16 weeks of age; however, the incidence of pecking and pulling of feathers was highest among females previously assigned the largest floor space allowance (9.3 dm2/bird) in the brooder house and subsequently allowed the smallest floor space allowance (14.0 dm2/bird) in the grower house. Beak trimming significantly increased the frequency of both "pecking" and "pecking and pulling" of feathers over that of their untrimmed contemporaries when the females were 12 and 16 weeks of age. Possible reasons for this are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology