Broiler breeders roosted more on slats than on perches during the laying period

Annemarie J.W. Mens*, Rick A. van Emous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Roosting on elevated areas is part of natural chicken behaviour, and therefore perches are required for broiler breeders in some countries. However, elevated slats may also meet the behavioural requirements. To date, hardly any research has been done on broiler breeder preferences for roosting on slats or perches. An experiment was conducted between 40 and 60 weeks of age (WOA) to observe the relative preference for elevated roosting places (slats and perches) in female Ross 308 broiler breeders, housed in 24 floor pens with each 26 females and 3 males at start. The birds could choose to roost on elevated wooden slats (30% floor surface) and on 2 plastic rectangle perches with rounded edges (total 4 m). Pens were further equipped with littered floor area, a drinking line above the slats and a nest box. Due to practical limitations, the litter, drinking lines and nest boxes could not be excluded as roosting areas. The number of birds per roosting place (slats, perches, drinking line, inside nest box and litter) were counted weekly, half an hour after lights went off. Three random birds per pen were marked to measure individual preference for roosting place over time. Breast blisters and feather cover of marked birds were scored at 45, 50, 55 and 60 WOA. The majority of the birds roosted on the slats (51.5 ± 1.4%), followed by the perches (23.9 ± 1.2%), drinking line (11.2 ± 0.7%), nest box (9.2 ± 0.7%), and litter (4.2 ± 0.8%). Generally, the preference for a certain roosting place was constant during the laying period and almost 80% of the birds were observed on the same roosting place at 15 of the 20 observations. More and severe breast blisters were found in birds roosting on the drinking line and perches, respectively, compared to the slats. Feather cover of birds roosting on slats was worse compared to the birds on the perches. The results of this study indicate that broiler breeders roosted more on slats rather than on perches, which is also more beneficial for their health. Furthermore, the broiler breeders roost consistently on their preferred place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105531
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


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