Approved activities Category
body weight 2
growth 2
body proportions 2
pulse or bloodflow 2
respiration 2
temperature (non-invasive) 2
mild dietary effects — high/normal protein 3
mild dietary effects — high/normal energy 3
mild dietary effects — high/normal fat 3
palatability 3

Any feeding trial must provide the normal nutritional needs for the stage of growth/production of the bird(s). The trial period must not be longer than is necessary to achieve a clearly observable result.

Measuring body weight

Only birds accustomed to being handled should be used for measurement of body weight.

Young birds can be weighed directly on a triple beam balance. Older birds may need to be restrained in a cardboard box. (Weight of box can be subtracted from final weight).

For growers and adult birds a spring balance with a suitable scale is required for weighing. A small loop of rope can be attached to the shank of both legs and connected to the balance. Ensure the bird’s head is kept down to avoid flapping. Readings should be taken as quickly as possible and the bird returned to its normal position to avoid prolonged stress.

Weighing and recording provides an example of how this activity can be completed in the school environment.

Measuring growth

Growth is measured by body weight changes. Recording regular measurements of weight can give an accurate measure of a bird’s growth. Growth can also be shown by photographing or drawing a bird against an appropriate background scale.

Image: Ducklings grow very quickly and make ideal subjects for collecting growth data over a short time period.

Measuring body proportions

Two handlers are required for the measurement of body proportions. One handler is required to restrain the bird while the other measures. Do not distort a bird excessively to take measurements of body parts. A soft plastic tape measure can be used to measure different body parts of the animal.

Measuring pulse/blood flow

Due to birds very high pulse rate, pulse rate is difficult to measure and a stethoscope is required. One handler should restrain the bird while a second handler measures the pulse.


This can be measured by observing birds in warmer weather conditions as indications of respiration become more obvious. Observe and record a bird with its bill naturally open and tongue moving, recording the number of tongue movements.


Restrain a bird by the hand and arm method and insert a clinical thermometer into the vent or cloaca. Slide the thermometer in carefully and wash after each bird. Warm the thermometer in cold weather.

Measurement of mild dietary effects

A variation in diet can be achieved by using commercially prepared foods which use a different formula than the usual one provided. Any variation in the diet should be an enhancement to, rather than deprivation of, the diet. The minimum level of protein, energy or fat selected for the trial must be the minimum acceptable for the life stage of the particular bird type. The trial period should not be longer than is necessary to achieve a clearly observable result. Ten to fourteen days is sufficient for young birds, after which the birds should be returned to their normal diet.

Where comparative food trials are being undertaken, no less than the minimum protein levels should be fed to birds. The maximum amount of protein permitted is 20% above the minimum levels.


For adult birds, use a variety of commercially prepared layer pellets and mash, ensuring a plentiful supply of clean fresh water. Observe two adult birds in separate pens and record the food selection of the birds.

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