Motivation and ability to walk for a food reward in broilers

Eddie Bokkers (Wageningen, The Netherlands)

Broilers are young chickens kept to produce poultry meat. They grow from 50g up to approximately 2.5kg in 6 weeks; their slaughter age. Fast growth and high body weight are associated with heart, respiration, and leg problems which influence their activity. The decrease in physical ability has been extensively studied. However, little is known about the motivation to show behavior. The distinction between motivation and ability is relevant for the interpretation of activity in terms of welfare.
In order to gain more insight into both motivation and physical ability in broilers, a runway experiment was conducted in which broilers had to walk a distance for a food reward. The studies revealed that EthoVision is able to analyze walking behavior of broilers in more detail than was ever possible before.