Access to outdoor areas is mandatory in organic poultry production. Stimulating organic broilers to use outdoor areas can be a challenge if there is only sparse vegetation without trees and bushes outside the houses.
Establishing attractive areas is necessary to increase the number of broilers going outside. A combination of smaller open areas with grass and herbs as well as areas with different bushes and trees, where the broilers can feel safe, will stimulate the chickens to use a larger part of the outdoor areas (see figure 1). Choice of geno-types can be important, as some genotypes are more active than others.
• Select plant species that are robust and adjusted to the climate such as caraway (Carum carvi), red clover (Trifolium pratense), chicory (Cichorium intybus), plantain (plantago major (broadleaf)/Plantago lanceolate (lancetleaf), ryegrass (Lolium perenne), selfheal (Prunella vulgaris), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), lu-cerne/alfalfa (Medicago sativa).
• Fencing off part of the plants might be necessary until they have reached a size that makes them less vul-nerable to birds eating leaves and smaller branches.
• Planting some trees in rows from the broiler houses will encourage the birds to leave the house and spread far into the outdoor areas.
• Combine trees and bushes with smaller open areas with grass/herbs or even crops that encourage foraging activity and other natural behaviour such as dustbathing, which is good for animal welfare.
• Choice of genotype is important. Very fast growing genotypes are not suitable for establishing a population with active animals.
• During cold winter periods, broilers are less motivated to go outside; a veranda system (winter garden), where silage can be provided, is recommended.