2018 - 2021

The impact of stocking density on performance, health, and welfare of turkey hens

Principal Investigator: Karen Schwean-Lardner, University of Saskatchewan
Status: In progress


The primary objective of this work will be to determine the impact of graded levels of stocking density on turkey hen performance, health, and welfare. Through the use of graded stocking density levels, we will be able to determine the peaks in performance, health and welfare parameters via regression analyses. The parameters evaluated will include growth, feed consumption, feed efficiency, mortality, uniformity, mobility, footpad lesion scores, breast blisters, feather condition and cleanliness, heterophil/lymphocyte ratio, and behavioural observation. A basic economic analysis will also be conducted, which will include poult costs, feed costs, and final income based on the various densities


Stocking density (SD) plays a key role in both economics and bird welfare. It is important to consider the effects on bird performance and producer income, and it is equally important to evaluate the bird’s health and well-being. There are few studies that have evaluated the effect of stocking density on turkey hen performance, health, and welfare, as many studies have evaluated turkey toms since they are typically marketed at heavier final body weights. Furthermore, there are very few studies that incorporate all three of these (performance, health, and welfare), instead focusing only on one or two of these parameters. This study will focus on turkey hens to 11 weeks of age (age at which the Saskatchewan turkey processing plant will accept turkeys), as this work is considered part of the next step in relation to the work previously conducted in heavy turkey toms to 16 weeks of age.


$243,134 (CPRC/AAFC $221,134*, Aviagen $11,000 (in-kind))

*This research is part of the 2018-2023 Poultry Science Cluster which is supported by AAFC as part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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