Monckton, V., van Staaveren, N., Baes, C. F. et al. 2020. Are turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) motivated to avoid excreta-soiled substrate? Animals 10(11), 2015.
The soiling of bedding on modern turkey farms combined with turkeys’ reduced ability and opportunity to perch and roost at elevation, forces them to spend most, if not all, of their time in contact with their excreta. To determine turkeys’ perspective on these conditions and the value they place on unsoiled bedding vs. soiled litter (collectively, substrates), we used twenty-four eleven-week-old turkey hens divided into six two-compartment pens. In the “home” compartment (H), we placed soiled wood shavings, while the “treatment” compartment (T) contained no substrate (NS), fresh pine and spruce wood shavings (FP), soiled pine and spruce wood shavings (SP), ammonia reductant-treated soiled pine and spruce wood shavings (TSP), or a feed treatment. One-way push-doors separated the two compartments. The door leading to T weighed an additional 0%, 20% or 40% of the turkeys’ body weight while the door to H remained unweighted. All birds were exposed to each resource and door weight combination in a systematic order. We measured the turkeys’ motivation based on the number of birds that pushed the maximum weight to access each resource, the amount of time spent in T, and the number of visits to T. Our findings show that turkeys worked harder to access feed compared to all the floor substrate treatments. Additionally, they were equally motivated to access all the substrate treatments.