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An investigation of laying hen interactions with ammoniated environments by means of preference testing

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Title: An investigation of laying hen interactions with ammoniated environments by means of preference testing
Author(s): Sales, Glogerley
Director of Research: Green, Angela R.; Gates, Richard S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Green, Angela R.; Gates, Richard S.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Dilger, Ryan N.; Bullock, Donald G.; Cheng, Heng-Wei
Department / Program: Engineering Administration
Discipline: Agricultural & Biological Engr
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): poultry air quality previous experience animal welfare animal behavior environmental preference chamber research apparatus commissioning animal tracking system
Abstract: Poultry and livestock are produced in many different housing systems, with potential environmental challenges to efficient production performance and, in extreme cases, animal survival. Thus, controlling the environment in commercial livestock and poultry facilities is important for improving animal welfare and optimal production, as well as for the health and safety of the workers within the barns. Delineation of animal perception regarding indoor ambient conditions, including air quality and thermal environment, can serve as a means of identifying design and management constraints for animal production facilities. Moreover, animal aversion or preference for certain environmental condition(s) also can assist in the establishment of guidelines for appropriate animal husbandry. Distressing environmental conditions have been proven to affect feed intake, feed conversion efficiency, weight gain, and to inhibit immune function, among other physiological aspects depending on the challenge to which animals are exposed. In addition, as concerns regarding the humane management of animals rise among the population, but also does the world demand for food, it becomes necessary to better understand animal/environment interactions from a scientific standpoint. That way, contributions can be made aiming to a balance between improving animal well-being and the potential additional cost for improving animal well-being. This dissertation was prepared with the goal of making a contribution to the existing knowledge in animal welfare and environmental systems. Field monitoring, laboratory research apparatus construction for assessing animal/environment interactions, and a laboratory study with hens in a controlled environment comprised this work. The main goal of this work was to evaluate laying hens’ perceptions regarding aerial ammonia (NH3). It is well known that NH3 is a predominant gas pollutant in commercial animal facilities, especially poultry. Therefore, three types of commercial egg layer house systems were first monitored for quantifying actual aerial NH3 concentrations found in the field. Concentrations reached 44ppm under summer conditions. Then, an environmental preference chamber (EPC) was constructed in the laboratory for assessing laying hens perceptions over distinctly different ammoniated atmospheres. The EPC environmental control performance and animal tracking system were assessed, proving suitable for choice-test studies with small animals. Subsequently, a preference study was carried out where choices of 0, 10, 20, and 40ppm of aerial NH3 concentration was given to laying hens at the age of 40 weeks until the age of 55 weeks, approximately. Instead of demonstrating a preference for (or avoidance of) certain aerial NH3 concentration, birds preferred certain compartment over the others as if they had established a home compartment and did not reallocate themselves as NH3 concentrations were randomized among compartments. Social effects may have existed between test and companion birds (during individual testing of hens) and within test groups (during group testing of hens). Previous experience to aerial NH3 did not affect hens’ choices, but chronic exposure to aerial NH3 had a negative effect on hens’ lungs as well as ocular and respiratory health.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34439
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Glogerley Tatiana Sales
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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