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1 The reaction of brown and white hens to enriched cages V Sandilands 1, L Baker 1, S Brocklehurst 2 SAC 1, BioSS 2.

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Presentation on theme: "1 The reaction of brown and white hens to enriched cages V Sandilands 1, L Baker 1, S Brocklehurst 2 SAC 1, BioSS 2."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The reaction of brown and white hens to enriched cages V Sandilands 1, L Baker 1, S Brocklehurst 2 SAC 1, BioSS 2

2 2 Introduction The majority of hens (~80%) in the EU are housed in cages The ban on conventional cages (99/74/EC) means that hens will have to be housed in alternative systems from 2012 One alternative is the enriched cage –nest box- scratch mat –perches - greater space

3 3 Introduction In addition, in the UK, routine beak trimming is due to be banned from 2011 The combined effects of a relatively novel housing system and intact beaks on hen production and welfare are still unknown Furthermore, different bird strains may react differently

4 4 Aim To investigate –the welfare of brown and white non-beak trimmed hens in various designs and colony sizes of enriched cages

5 5 Methods 2 cage designs (A,B) x 3 colony sizes (20, 40, and 80) x 2 bird strains (white, brown) Data collected over 2 flocks: –daily egg production and nest box use –feather scores (as an indicator of feather pecking) at 36, 56, 72 weeks of age –claw length (as in indicator of the efficacy of claw shortening devices) at depopulation –mortality Data analysed by LMM or GLMM

6 6 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Perches

7 7 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Auger tube

8 8 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Barriers

9 9 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Food troughs

10 10 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Scratch mats: 97 cm 2 versus 78 cm 2 per hen

11 11 Methods 72 cages, 36 per cage design Nest boxes: 97 cm 2 versus 78 cm 2 per hen

12 12 Methods Claw shortening device A: 3.75 cm 2 per hen B: 44 cm 2 per hen

13 13 Results Nest box use Brown hens White hens Brown hens better nest box users (83%) than white hens (64%) Thin line = A Thick line = B

14 14 Results Nest box use Brown hens White hens Brown hens prefer nest box from cage type B over A Thin line = A Thick line = B

15 15 Results Nest box use Brown hens White hens Whereas white hens prefer nest box A over B Thin line = A Thick line = B

16 16 Results Feather condition –Worse with Brown (1.7) than White (1.1) birds (SED 0.065) (P<0.001) –Worse with increasing age (P<0.001, SED= ) White Brown

17 17 Results Claw length (cm) –White hens unaffected by design/size –Brown hens shorter claws with cage type B AB White SED = 0.06 P<0.001 Brown

18 18 Results Mortality –Total of 6.8%, 30% due to pecking/cannibalism –Brown hens (5.8%) > White (5.5%) (P=0.048) –Particularly true for certain categories: Aggression/ bullying Not eating White 1% 4% Brown18% P< % P =0.035

19 19 Conclusions Brown hens possibly preferred the enclosed, smaller space of nest box B, whereas white hens preferred greater space of A Scratch mat and nest box design in A were similar - this can reduce nest eggs White birds’ claws grow faster than brown hens’. Uncertain whether the type of shortener, or the size, was relevant with brown hens.

20 20 Conclusions Intact beaks affected mortality and feather pecking. This will need careful management, by stimulating oral behaviours at the scratch mats and feed White hens had better plumage condition at all ages. The lack of colour contrast between intact and pecked feathers may be an advantage to white birds White birds, although flighty with people, were robust under trial conditions

21 21


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