Daylength used as a management tool has powerful implications on the welfare of both broilers and turkeys. Near-constant light results in many detrimental impacts, including lack of behavioural rhythms and circadian melatonin rhythms. Both are suggestive that sleep fragmentation could result in birds reared on long photoperiods, which can lead to the same negative health and physiological responses as total sleep deprivation. An indirect comparison of the welfare implications of graded levels of daylength on broilers and turkeys clearly indicate that long daylengths depress welfare by increasing mortality, reducing mobility, increasing ocular pathologies and changing behaviour in both species. Furthermore, long daylengths change melatonin secretion patterns and eliminate behavioural and melatonin circadian rhythms, which were measured in broilers in these works. However, feather pecking in turkeys was reduced when birds were exposed to long daylengths. Exactly how much darkness should be included in a management program to maximize welfare will depend on the species, the age of marketing, and in turkeys, bird gender.
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© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Circadian rhythms