Poor physical abilities of broilers may prevent them from performing behaviours for which they are motivated. The aim of this study was to measure the influence of physical ability and motivation on the performance of broilers in short physical tasks. We tested birds from a fast- and a slow-growing broiler strain in a runway to 12 weeks of age. To manipulate motivation, half of the birds of each strain was feed deprived for 3 h and the other half for 24 h before testing. Each bird was tested in a control and a slalom runway test once a week. With a similar motivation, slow growers had a shorter latency to start walking and walked faster through the runway than fast growers in both tests. In fast growers walking speed decreased faster with age than in slow growers. Slow growers vocalised more in both tests. In the slalom test, 24 h deprived birds vocalised more than 3 h deprived birds. Although the fast and slow growers have a different genetic background, the results indicated that motivation is the dominant determinative factor for walking in birds with a low body weight, while physical ability is the dominant determinative factor for walking in birds with a high body weight.
- laying hen