By: Kailyn Beaulac and Karen Schwean-Lardner, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan
Stocking density has the ability to directly influence economic return for producers however, it is important to consider other factors that may be affected by stocking density. While the majority of stocking density studies were conducted in the 1990’s or earlier, past studies have well documented the effects of stocking density on performance. There are few studies that evaluate how stocking density impacts the health, behaviour and overall well-being of the bird.
Another issue with stocking density research is that there are many other factors linked to stocking density that contribute to negative bird performance and welfare, such as feeder and drinker space, poor air quality, and poor litter quality. This study attempted to account for these factors by equalizing feeder and drinker space on a per bird basis, monitoring air quality for CO2 and ammonia and adjusting ventilation based on stocking density, and by evaluating litter moisture.
The aim of this research was to study the effects of stocking density with a comprehensive approach, ensuring that confounding factors were accounted for.