2015 - 2018

Study of the impact of various stocking densities on the performance, health and welfare of turkey broilers and heavy turkeys

Principal Investigator: Karen Schwean-Lardner, University of Saskatchewan
Co-investigator: Henry Classen, University of Saskatchewan; Susantha Gomis, University of Saskatchewan; Trever Crowe, University of Saskatchewan
Status: Completed


To determine the impact that increasing graded levels of stocking density have on various parameters (productivity, health/welfare and behaviour) of turkey production.


One of the primary areas in poultry production systems that have been implicated as an animal welfare concern is that of stocking density (SD).  Producers may also view SD as an economic driver in their production systems, so understanding the impact that increasing stocking densities have on the productivity, welfare and behaviour are important. The impacts of SD on productivity parameters is not consistent in the literature.  The may be due to varying SD levels, genders tested, or other environmental conditions varying between research articles.  As with productivity, experimental differences were noted in the effect that SD has on mortality levels in turkey flocks.  In some cases, increasing SD resulted in higher mortality levels while mortality under varying SD in other experiments did not differ.  The impact varying levels of SD has on behavioural actions (e.g. aggression) has not been consistent in the research, and only a small number of research articles have attempted to understand how stocking densities affects other behavioural expression in turkeys. The majority of research that has been conducted on the impact of varying stocking densities in turkey has focused either on production, health or behaviour.  No research that we are aware of has encompassed all areas.  Although prior research shows that high stocking densities can have a negative impact on the growth and welfare of commercial turkeys, the effects may be partially related to environmental conditions not being appropriately adjusted, thereby confounding stocking density and air/litter quality. Therefore, the objective of this work is to determine the impact that increasing graded levels of stocking density have on various parameters (productivity, welfare/health and behaviour) of turkey production.  Managed ventilation systems in all rooms  will ensure measurements taken will be on stocking density only, and not air quality.


$208,179 (AAFC/CPRC $201,579*, Aviagen $6,600 (in-kind))


*This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

Back to results