Survey: Broiler natural light access gaining popularity

Giving broiler birds access to natural light is rising in popularity, according to a new survey.

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(David Tadevosian)
(David Tadevosian)

Giving broiler birds access to natural light is rising in popularity, according to a new survey.

In the first quarter of 2020, nearly half of the respondents to the WATT/Rennier Poultry Confidence Index said they are currently giving their birds access to natural light.

As part of the quarterly survey, WATT Global Media is asking additional questions about the state of the poultry industry as well as emerging trends, technologies and challenges. This blog post reflects the results of supplemental questions included in the first quarter survey conducted in February 2020. The next installment of Dr. Greg Rennier’s column reflecting the results of this survey will be published in the April 2020 issue of WATT PoultryUSA.

Access to natural light

In recent years, poultry growers began adding windows to broiler housing to let natural light in – including major integrators like Perdue Foods and Wayne Farms LLC. The practice is required by the Global Animal Partnership, a third-party animal welfare certification organization. Despite this, from a scientific perspective, its unclear whether the practice benefits the birds.

We asked, “Are you currently giving your birds access to natural light?”

  • 53.3% responded, “No.”
  • 30.0% responded, “Yes, with curtains.”
  • 13.3% responded, “Yes, with windows.”
  • 3.3% responded, “No.”

We also asked, “In your experience, does natural light exposure improve bird welfare?”

  • 57.7% responded, “Yes, natural light makes a significant, positive difference for bird welfare.”
  • 42.3% responded, “No, adding natural light does not improve bird welfare.”

Using enrichments

Another practice spreading around the industry is adding devices to the house specifically for the purpose of entertaining and engaging the birds. These objects are designed to stimulate natural behaviors like hiding, pecking and perching.

We asked, “If you currently give your birds access to enrichments inside the house, what kinds are you using? (Please select all that apply)"

  • 51.1% responded, “Currently do not have any enrichments.”
  • 14.8% responded, “Objects for the birds to peck at.”
  • 13.0% responded, “Perching bars or other apparatuses to stimulate perching.”
  • 7.0% responded, “Structures for the birds to hide under.”
  • 13.0% responded, “Other (please explain).”

Respondents saying, “other,” said they use perching bars, baffles for birds to hide behind and boxes to play in.

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