Automated marking, precision feeding and aggressiveness in broilers

Research studies whether chick differentiation ink marks promote aggressive behaviors.

Precision feeding technologies have proven to be very useful for rearing breeders of meat aptitude since they allow to individualize the necessary feed according to each chicken's bodyweight in real-time.

However, broilers fed this technology require up to 21 days to learn to eat at precision feeding stations. Training is crucial for achieving batch consistency and successful growth from an early age.

An automated marking system was integrated into a precision feeding station prototype to identify chickens that required more learning versus those that had already learned to eat successfully to improve production.

If the chicks were marked with ink, it meant that they had successfully visited and eaten from the feeder, while chicks with little or no ink were the slowest learners and required the most training.

Although the marking system was useful, before implementing it on a larger scale, it was necessary to determine whether ink markings promoted aggressive behavior among chicks.

According to the study results, the ink marks promoted aggressive pecks at 26 days of age. However, this figure is above the time the automated marking system requires to function as an identification method.

N.M. Zukiwsky, T.E. Girard, M.J. Zuidhof. Effect of an automated marking system on aggressive behavior of precision-fed broiler breeder chicks. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2020, Pages 786-797.

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