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Br Poult Sci. 1986 Mar;27(1):109-14.

Comparison of the stressfulness of harvesting broiler chickens by machine and by hand.


The procedures of manual and machine catching acted as short-term stressors, and induced a state of fear in 8-week-old broiler chickens. The heart rate of birds caught by both methods rose to similar high values but that of birds caught by machine returned to near normal rates more quickly, suggesting that they were less stressed. The duration of tonic immobility, a response which increases with fearfulness, was much longer in manually-caught birds. These results suggest that stress could be reduced and welfare improved by catching and picking up broiler chickens by a carefully designed machine, rather than by hand.

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