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Location tracking of individual laying hens housed in aviaries with different litter substrates

By Dana L. M. Campbell, Darrin M. Karcher, Janice M. Siegford

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Abstract

The laying hen industry is phasing out conventional cages in favor of other housing systems such as the aviary – designed to improve hen welfare by providing additional space and resources including a litter area. However, we do not know whether individual hens significantly vary in the time they spend in different areas of these aviaries throughout the day, which may affect individual welfare. Further we do not know if providing different types of litter substrates affects hen use of the litter area. Using direct observations, the locations of 35 individual color-marked hens were tracked across a period of 3days during mid lay of the production cycle. Hens were housed in 6 separate aviary pens (n=144 hens/pen), each with one of 3 litter substrates on the open floor area (n=2 pens/substrate: AstroTurf®, straw or wood shavings). Hens spent less time on AstroTurf® litter than on other types of litter (P=0.01). Regardless of litter type, individual hens differed in time spent on litter with some hens never observed in the litter area (all P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 184
Pages 74-79
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.09.001
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Tags
  1. Aviaries
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Hens
  4. Individuals
  5. Litter
  6. welfare