Poultry rearing on perforated plastic floors and the effect on air quality, growth performance, and carcass injuries—Experiment 1: Thermal Comfort
The present study investigated the use of perforated plastic floors in the rearing of male and female poultry under thermal comfort conditions. The study was conducted in 2 climate chambers, in one was conventional poultry litter (wood shavings) and in the other was a perforated plastic floor. The experimental design was a completely randomized design with the factors wood shavings and plastic floor. In each chamber, the animals were divided into 16 experimental pens (8 with males and 8 with females) with a density of 12 birds/m2. The poultry rearing effect was evaluated in terms of air quality (% concentration of ammonia [NH3] and carbon dioxide [CO2]); broiler performance, e.g., weight gain (kg), feed intake (kg), feed conversion, carcass yield and parts (%), meat production (kg/m2), and viability (% of live birds at d 42); scores of hygiene and mobility; and injuries in the chest, hocks, and footpads. Treatments affected air quality, with higher concentrations of NH3 on d 42 (25 ppm vs. 2 ppm) and CO2 (1,400 ppm vs. 1,000 ppm) for wood shavings than for perforated plastic floor, respectively. Males showed a better performance (weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion) than females on d 42 in both floor types (wood shavings and plastic floor). Males reared on wood shavings showed a higher meet production (35.992 kg/m2) than females (32.257 kg/m2). On the plastic floor, males showed a better viability (100%) than females (94.05%), as well better meet production for males (38.55 kg·m-2) than females (31.64 kg/m2). There was no incidence of breast lesions in any of the studied systems. The birds reared on the plastic floor had better hygiene scores and lower hock injury rates than birds reared in the wood shavings chambers. The results of the present study show that the use of perforated plastic floors in chicken farming is an efficient method, which promotes a better-quality environment, superior production rates, and reduced incidence of injuries.