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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Housing Effect on Behavior and Production Performance of Laying Hens: Enriched Vs. Conventional Cages

Authors
item Pohle, Kim - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item CHENG, HENG WEI

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2003
Publication Date: July 1, 2003
Citation: POHLE, K., CHENG, H. HOUSING EFFECT ON BEHAVIOR AND PRODUCTION PERFORMANCE OF LAYING HENS: ENRICHED VS. CONVENTIONAL CAGES. POULTRY SCIENCE. 2003.

Technical Abstract: The effect of caging systems on behavior and production performance of laying hens was examined. At 19 wk of age, non-beak trimmed White Leghorn hens were randomly assigned into conventional cages at 3 hens or 6 hens per cage (645 cm2 of floor space/hen), or furnished cage at 10 hens per cage (610 cm2 of floor space/hen). The finished cages contain nests, perches, scratch pads, and dust baths (Big Dutchman, Germany). Production data were collected from a period of 25 to 50 wk of age, and behavioral data were collected at 30 and 40 wk of age using 10 minute constantly scanning at each hour from 0700 - 2300. There were no differences in number of eggs between conventional cages and furnished cages (ANOVA, P>0.05), but the egg mass tended to be greater in furnished cages (ANOVA, P=0.07). Compared to hens in conventional cages, hens in furnished cages laid a greater proportion of dirty eggs (eggs laid in the litter areas or with blood spots), highest at 25 wk of age (1%), then consistently dropped to below 0.1% at 50 wk of age. The frequency of activity transitions and activity levels was higher in both 3- and 6-hen conventional cages than those in furnished cages (P<0.05), which suggests that hens in conventional cages were more restless. These results indicate that furnished cages may provide a more comfortable environment for laying hens; however, further studies are needed to investigate how to decrease the laying of dirty eggs.

Last Modified: 9/29/2014