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Evidence of competition for nest sites by laying hens in large furnished cages

By M. E. Hunniford, S. Torrey, G. Bedecarrats, I. J. H. Duncan, T. M. Widowski

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Abstract

Furnished cages are designed to accommodate behaviour considered important to laying hens, particularly nesting behaviour. Few researchers have studied the degree of competition for nest sites or the extent to which the amount of nest space affects nesting behaviour in large furnished cages. We explored the effect of floor (low 520 cm 2/bird, high 750 cm 2/bird)/nest space allowance (low 70 cm 2/bird, high 100 cm 2/bird) and overall cage/nest size (small 20,880/2816 cm 2; large 41,296/5664 cm 2) on the nesting behaviour of hens in furnished cages. There were six replicates per size * space allowance combination and four resultant group sizes of 28, 40, 55, and 80. Each cage was equipped with a nest located at one end that was fitted with plastic curtains and plastic mesh floors; a smooth plastic mat intended as a scratch area was located on the opposite cage wall. The location of each egg laid within the cage, oviposition times, pre-laying sitting and agonistic behaviours were recorded at various times during the production year. More eggs were laid in the nest area in small cages (91.70.2%) than large (77.20.5%; P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 95-104
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.08.005
Language English
Author Address Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2 W1, Canada.twidowsk@uoguelph.ca
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Tags
  1. Agonistic behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animals
  4. Birds
  5. Cages
  6. Distribution
  7. Effect
  8. Egg production
  9. Eggs
  10. Floors
  11. Fowls
  12. Group size
  13. Hens
  14. Humans
  15. Mammals
  16. Men
  17. nesting
  18. oviposition
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. Poultry
  21. Primates
  22. researchers
  23. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed