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Choice of perch characteristics by laying hens in cages with different group size and perching behaviours

By Dong-hua Chen, Jun Bao, Fan-yu Meng, Chun-bo Wei

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Abstract

Provision of perches in cages could improve behaviour and physical conditions of laying hens. This study was conducted to investigate the choice of perch characteristics (shape, width, material and height) by caged hens under different group size, and to understand the choice by the perching behaviours of hens. This study was consisted of four trials: perch shape (rectangular and round in cross section), width (3.0cm and 5.0cm), material (steel, wood and plastic) and height (10cm, 20cm, 30cm and 40cm) tests. In each trial, 390 Hyline Brown laying hens were used and randomly allocated to three treatments: individual group (G1), group of four hens (G4), and group of eight hens (G8), respectively. There were 30 replicates in each group. The hens in G1, G4 and G8 groups were put in the test cages in which designed perches were simultaneously provided and tested after four habituating days. Hens’ behaviours were recorded using cameras at the following periods: 8:00–10:00; 14:00–16:00; 19:00–21:00 and 23:30–0:30 on the fifth and seventh day. The behaviours of the hens were analyzed, and the hens’ positions on test perches during mid-night were recorded. The results showed that, the rectangular perches were chosen more than round perches in all groups (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 150
Pages 37-43
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.10.007
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Choice
  3. Group size
  4. perches