Two experiments were conducted with 600 male Large White turkeys to examine performance and health when reared from 5 to 18 wk of age on litter (L) or partially slotted flooring (SF), and under two ventilation rates - control and reduced ventilation (80% of control). In both experiments, body weights were improved significantly (P < 0.05) for turkeys reared on SF compared to L by 11 and 16% in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. In comparison to L, SF significantly decreased incidence of leg problems in Experiment 1, whereas the incidence of breast blisters and buttons were increased in Experiment 2. Ammonia levels were reduced with SF, whereas dust levels were increased. Ventilation rate did not affect turkey performance. Ammonia and carbon dioxide levels were increased with reduced ventilation in Experiment 1. Dust levels were not affected by ventilation rate. Supplemental energy use was decreased in the SF system or by reducing the ventilation rate. In comparison to the control ventilation/litter treatment, the greatest decrease in energy use was observed with SF at 80% ventilation rates. Results indicate that the use of SF in a cold climate can improve body weight and substantially reduce energy use when excessive litter moisture is a problem. However, a greater incidence of blisters will limit application of SF due to lowered carcass quality and value.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank W. Groth, V. Johnson, J. Fick, K. Rost, J. Stromberg, C. Brakob, and F. Chen for their technical support of the project; Jerome Foods, Faribault, MN 55021 for providing processing information on the flocks; and the Minnesota Turkey Promotion and Research Council and Minnesota Agricultural Research Utilization Institute (Agricultural Energy Savings Program) for their partial financial support of the project.
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