Challenges in alternative housing for laying hens are barren functional areas such as winter gardens and the occurrence of behavioral disorders. Environmental enrichment is a measure to deal with these problems. Therefore, an enrichment device offering maize silage automatically was tested in two winter gardens on-farm. The use of the winter gardens and the times individual hens stayed there and occupied themselves with the maize silage were determined in a temporary preference test. The proportion of residing hens was significantly larger in the enriched winter garden. The mean time individual hens stayed in the enriched winter garden ranged from 02:16 ± 02:22 (mm:ss) to 03:17 ± 02:27, whereas the time ranged from 00:18 ± 00:32 to 00:59 ± 01:19 in the other winter garden (p < .05). Once the enrichment device ran in both winter gardens, no differences were found between the observed parameters. On average, the hens occupied themselves with the enrichment material for 03:50 ± 02:12 to 05:01 ± 03:06. Thus, based on its use and acceptance by the laying hens, the automatic device provided adequate environmental enrichment.
|Publication Title||Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science|
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