Five groups of 4 hens were trained to increase the size of their cage by means of key pecking in an operant conditioning apparatus. Cage sizes could be varied between 1600 and 6100 cmsuperscript 2. The cage floor could be either wood shavings or wire mesh. Hens spent approximately 50% of their time in cages with a surface greater than 1800 cmsuperscript 2. Type of cage floor did not influence the total numbers of key pecks delivered, but key pecking for access to litter was more efficient than key pecking for access to wire. It is concluded that available space is more important to hens than access to litter. It is suggested that operant conditioning is a valuable method for determining the preferences of domestic hens for various aspects of the environment considered to be relevant to welfare.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Inst. Nat. Recherche Agron., Centre Tours-Nouzilly, 37380 Monnaie, France.|
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