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

By Michelle E. Hunniford, Stephanie Torrey, Gregoy Bédécarrats, Ian J. H. Duncan, Tina 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 520cm2/bird, high 750cm2/bird)/nest space allowance (low 70cm2/bird, high 100cm2/bird) and overall cage/nest size (small 20,880/2816cm2; large 41,296/5664cm2) 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 (91.7±0.2%) than large (77.2±0.5%; P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 95-104
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.08.005
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Tags
  1. Cages
  2. Hens