Perches serve as a behavioural enrichment and may yield benefits on broiler foot health and growth performance. The benefit may be greater for birds fed high crude protein (HCP) diets, which results in poorer litter conditions. This study investigated the effect of two perch configurations (I shaped vs. X shaped, compared with no perch) and dietary crude protein (CP) level (standard vs. high) on behaviour, foot pad health, bone density, growth performance, and carcass traits of broilers raised to 35 d of age. Perch configuration did not affect body weight (BW) at day 35 or overall average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), and gain-to-feed ratio (G:F). Likewise, there was no effect of perch provision independent of CP level for any carcass variable. Feeding standard CP (SCP) level resulted in greater bone density, carcass weight, and dressing percentage but lower breast, wing, and total edible meat yield. We confirmed that greater litter moisture (16%) related to excess dietary CP (13%) caused footpad dermatitis in broilers trending from 3 wk old to significant at 27 and 35 d of age. Provision of barrier perches did not reprieve from litter contact (perching), although more focal birds were observed resting against them and did not affect growth performance, bone density, or carcass traits.
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