Performance, behavior, and health of male broilers and laying hens of 2 dual-purpose chicken genotypes
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Dual-purpose chicken where both sexes are reared together, before males are separated for final fattening, while females are kept for an entire laying period, may provide an economic alternative under certain production and marketing conditions. Two genotypes, purebred Bresse-Gauloise (PURE, n = 300) and crossbred Bresse-Gauloise × New Hampshire (CROSS, n = 300), were compared. One-day-old mixed-sex chicken were raised for 12 wk under floor husbandry conditions on a broiler diet. Thereafter, males were transferred to a mobile chicken house with free-range access. Males were slaughtered at weekly intervals from 12th to 19th wk of age. Hens were kept for 1 laying period in a mobile house. Growth performance, feed consumption, carcass, meat quality, health and welfare traits were measured in both sexes. In females layers’ performance, egg quality and behavior were recorded, too. At 12 wk, males of PURE reached a live weight of 2,075 g and CROSS of 1,865 g (P < 0.05), while at 16 wk both weighed more than 2,500 g (P > 0.05). Dressing percentage increased with slaughter age and was above 68% in both genotypes when slaughtered at 18 to 19 wk of age. Proportion of legs, breast, and wings was 34.3, 16.0, and 11.0% in PURE and 34.7, 15.5, and 12.1% in CROSS (P > 0.05). Laying performance was 54.5% in PURE and 54.2% in CROSS (P > 0.05). Egg breaking strength decreased during the laying period, but remained above 30 N. Feed conversion was 3.4 kg feed/kg egg. On average, 25% of the animals stayed outdoors during daytime (P > 0.05). Keel bone deformations were observed in 10% and breast blisters in 20% of the hens. Under the specific conditions of marketing products with added value, performances resulted in an overall economic benefit, which was higher for PURE than CROSS. The use of dual-purpose chicken to avoid the killing of 1-d-old chicken and mobile housing may substantiate premium prices in such a system.