Sans, E. C. de O., Tuyttens, F. A. M., Taconeli, C. A. et al. 2021. From the point of view of the chickens: What difference does a window make? Animals 11(12), 3397.
We aimed to investigate what broiler chickens prefer when given free choice between a barn side with artificial lighting only as opposed to the other barn side with natural light through glass windows and artificial light. Eighty-five 1 day-old male Cobb 500 broiler chickens were divided into 10 pens; half of each pen area was provided with only artificial light (OAL) and the other half with natural and artificial light (NAL), and birds were free to move across sides. Environmental indicators and external conditions such as temperature, relative humidity, air velocity, ammonia and illuminance were monitored inside and outside the barn. Chickens’ preference was registered each three days, divided in categories: I (at 9, 12, and 15 days), II (at 18, 21, 24, and 27 days), and III (at 30, 33 and 36 days). The effect of the interaction between environmental indicators and week was statistically different only for illuminance. Chickens preferred NAL to OAL from 18 days onwards (II p < 0.001; III p = 0.016). Drinking (p = 0.034) and exploration or locomotion (p = 0.042) behaviours were more frequent, and “not visible” behaviours (p < 0.001) were less frequent, in NAL. Foraging was the only behaviour with an interaction effect between age category and light treatment, as birds during period II expressed this behaviour more frequently in NAL than OAL (p = 0.003). For our experimental conditions, the chickens preferred NAL from 18 days of age onwards, when the confounding effect of the heating light was removed, and their behavioural repertoire was also different according to each side of the barn and to their ages.