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A study was recently carried out in commercial broiler farms, which examined the water consumption of chicks during their first seven days.
High-precision ultrasonic water meters were installed in twenty-two broiler houses (eighteen houses measuring 152 meters by 12.2 meters and four houses measuring 152 meters by 16.5 meters) in nine farms.
This study showed that water consumption is closely related to food consumption.
One of the most interesting patterns discovered is that even when given continuous light, birds have a marked circadian life cycle (24 hours) during rearing.
THE CHICKS HAVE AN INTERNAL CLOCK
This internal chick clock determines the activity level of the bird throughout the day by establishing a “day” and a “night”.
This clock is “set” in the hatchers when a chick breaks the shell or even when it is still in the egg, depending on how much light is in the hatcher.
Although the most important factor in the setting of this chick’s internal clock is light, there are other factors that can also affect it (sound, service time, house temperature, etc).
Poultry farmers can set the chicks’ clock with lighting programs, providing them with a day and night schedule. But if a period of darkness is not provided, the chicks will tend to create one themselves.
The fact is that, with chicks and also with older birds, even if we provide continuous light in a house, the activity of the birds will always tend to establish a 24-hour cycle (figure 1).
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