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Poult Sci. 2013 Feb;92(2):435-43. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02360.

Effects of outdoor access on growth performance, carcass composition, and meat characteristics of broiler chickens.

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Department of Animal Science, South China Agricultural University/Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Agro-Animal Genomics and Molecular Breeding/Key Laboratory of Chicken Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction, Ministry of Agriculture, Guangzhou, 510642, China.


The present study was conducted to investigate the effects of outdoor access on the growth performance and meat quality of broiler chickens. Thirty-five-day-old female broilers were divided into 3 groups with 6 replicates of 124 birds each: (1) birds reared indoors (control group); (2) birds reared with outdoor access since 36 d of age (35-d group); and (3) birds reared with outdoor access since 71 d of age (70-d group). The results showed that outdoor access had no effect on growth performance, carcass yield, meat yield, muscle protein content, muscle fiber characteristics, or water-holding capacity (P > 0.05). Chickens from the outdoor access groups had a better appearance and degree of evenness. Birds in the outdoor access groups had a significantly lower lung percentage than birds in the control group (P < 0.05), whereas the kidney percentage of the 35-d group was significantly lower than that of the control group (P < 0.05). The meat of chickens in the 35-d group had higher L* values than that of the control group (P < 0.05). Compared with rearing indoors, outdoor access significantly increased the shear force of the breast muscle in both the 35 d and 70-d group (P < 0.05) and decreased the fat content of the thigh muscle in the case of 35-d group (P < 0.05). Birds in the 35-d group also had lower fat content in their thigh muscles than did the birds in the 70-d group (P < 0.05). The thigh muscles of the birds in the 35-d group showed lower levels of MUFA and higher levels of PUFA than those of the control group and 70-d group (P < 0.05). In conclusion, outdoor access had no effect on growth performance and yield traits but could improve the meat quality; birds reared with outdoor access from 36 d of age had better appearance and meat quality than those with outdoor access from 71 d of age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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