Dong, Y., Fraley, G. S., Siegford, J. M. et al. 2023. Comparing different environmental enrichments for improving the welfare and walking ability of male turkeys. PLOS ONE 18(5), e0285347.

This study investigated age-related changes in turkey welfare measures (wounds, feather quality (FQ), feather cleanliness, and footpad condition (FCON)) and walking ability (gait) as influenced by different types of environmental enrichment (EE). Tom turkeys (n = 420) were randomly assigned to: straw bale (S), platform (P), platform + straw bale (PS), pecking block (B), tunnel (T) or control (C; no enrichment) group. Welfare measures and gait were assessed at 8, 12, 16 and 19 wk and analyzed using PROC LOGISTIC with Firth bias-correction. Better wing FQ with age was observed in turkeys in S and T groups. Turkeys in the S group had better wing FQ at 16 (P = 0.028) and 19 wk (P = 0.011) vs. 8 wk. Wing FQ (P = 0.008) was better at 19 vs. 8 wk for T turkeys. FCON worsened over time for turkeys in all treatment groups except for the S group. FCON was worse at 19 vs.8 wk for P (P = 0.024), PS (P = 0.039), B (P = 0.011), T (P = 0.004) and C (P = 0.014) turkeys and was worse at 19 vs. 12 wk for B (P = 0.038), T (P = 0.015) and C (P = 0.045) turkeys. FCON was worse at 19 vs. 16 wk for T (P = 0.007) and C (P = 0.048) turkeys. FCON was also worse at 16 vs. 8 wk for B (P = 0.046) turkeys. Gait worsened with increasing age in all treatment groups. Gait was worse at 19 wk for S (P < 0.001), P (P < 0.001), PS (P < 0.001) and B turkeys (P < 0.001) vs. earlier ages, while gait in T (P < 0.001) and C turkeys (P < 0.001) worsened starting at 16 wk.