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Development of physical activity levels in laying hens in three-dimensional aviaries

By Madison Kozak, Bret Tobalske, Dwight Springthorpe, Bill Szkotnicki, Alexandra Harlander-Matauschek

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Abstract

Levels of physical activity are known to be associated with a number of health and welfare parameters in laying hens, such as stronger bones. Despite this, we presently lack insight into the development of physical activity throughout the life of the laying hen. To close this knowledge gap, we measured physical activity levels of four different strains of laying hens (LSL-lite, Hyline Brown, Dekalb White, Lohmann Brown; 3 groups of 10 chicks per strain, n=120) throughout three age classes (10–16, 17–24 and 25–37 weeks of age) using tri-axial accelerometers to record 120min of activity per bird per week. Using these data, we were able to predict low- (e.g. small postural movements), moderate- (e.g. walking) and high- (e.g. aerial ascent) intensity physical activity with 98% accuracy (verified using video recordings). Throughout all age classes, birds allocated their time towards moderate-, low-, and high-intensity physical activity in descending order. Young pullets expressed the greatest level of high-intensity physical activity, which declined with increasing age (p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 185
Pages 66-72
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2016.10.004
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Tags
  1. Aviaries
  2. Development
  3. Hens
  4. Locomotion
  5. physical activity