Spatial variability of litter temperature, relative air humidity and skin temperature of chicks in a commercial broiler house
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The thermal environment inside a broiler house has a great influence on animal welfare and productivity during the production phase. Among the importance of the chicken litter is the function of absorbing moisture, provide thermal insulation and provide a soft surface for broilers. The skin temperature is an important physiological parameter to quantify the thermal comfort of animals, its variations may occur as a function of thermal variables. So, the aim of this work was to analyse the magnitude and spatial variability of chicken litter temperature and relative humidity of the air and to correlate them with the spatial distribution of chicks’ skin surface temperature throughout the broiler house during the 7th, 14th and 21st days of the chicks’ life, using geostatistical techniques. The experiment was performed in a commercial broiler house located in the western mesoregion of Minas Gerais, Brazil, where 28,000 male Cobb chicks were housed. The heating system consisted of an industrial indirect-fired biomass furnace. The heated air was inflated by an AC motor, 2,206 W of power, 1,725 RPM. Geostatistical techniques were used through semivariogram analysis and isochore maps were generated through data interpolation by kriging. The semivariogram was fitted by the restricted maximum likelihood method. The used mathematical model was the spherical one. After fitting the semivariograms, the data were interpolated by ordinary kriging. The semivariograms along with the isochore maps allowed identifying the non-uniformity of spatial distribution of the broiler litter temperature throughout the broiler house for 3 days of chicks’ life. It was observed that skin surface presented a positive correlation with the litter temperature and a negative correlation with the air humidity. The semivariograms along with the isochore maps allowed identifying the non-uniformity of spatial distribution of the litter temperature, air humidity and skin temperature of chicks throughout the broiler aviary for the three days. In addition, the use of geostatistics and distribution maps made possible to identify different environmental conditions in regions inside the broiler house that may harm the development of chicks.