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Preferences of hens for shape and size of roosts

By H. K. Muiruri, P. C. Harrison, H. W. Gonyou

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Two experiments were conducted to determine the shape and size of roost preferred by broiler breeder hens. The effect of roost position upon roosting frequency within the experimental chamber was also evaluated. Roosting behaviour was determined from time-lapse videotapes. In Experiment 1, hens of two genotypes, with different degrees of experience with roosts were evaluated for shape of roost preference. Four shapes (square, round, flat and peaked) of wooden roosts were presented simultaneously to each group of hens. Roost use was recorded for four 24 h periods with each roost shape in a different position during each period. In Experiment 2, the previously naive hens of Experiment 1 were used to determine roost preferences in terms of size. Three sizes (5.0 cm, 3.8 cm, and 2.5 cm in diameter) of metal pipes were simultaneously presented to each group of hens, and roost use was recorded for three 24 h periods with each roost size in a different position during each period. The square- and round-shaped roosts ranked first and second, in terms of use, in all of the trials. The square-shaped roost was ranked first in the groups of New Hampshire hens which had been previously exposed to square roosts only, while the round-shaped roost was ranked first in the Columbian Plymouth Rock groups which had no previous experience. The peaked roosts were used least by all the groups of hens tested. Roost use as a percent of total time, was 33.9% and 54.7% in roost-experienced (New Hampshire) and roost-naive (Columbian Plymouth Rock) hens, respectively. Hens strongly selected the 5.0 cm in diameter roosts over 3.8 cm and 2.5 cm in diameter roosts. It is concluded that hens prefer roosts that are large rather than small, and square or round rather than triangular in shape.

Date 1990
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 27
Issue 1-2
Pages 141-147
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, 1207 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, Il 61801, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Birds
  7. Chickens
  8. Domesticated birds
  9. Farms
  10. Fowls
  11. Housing
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. perches
  14. Poultry
  15. preferences
  1. peer-reviewed