Associations between welfare indicators and environmental choice in laying hens

Animal welfare is usually assessed by measuring animals’ responses to different environments or procedures. The alternative approach examines animal decision making, assuming that even domestic animals in artificial environments are able to integrate all relevant inputs and select in their own best interests. These two approaches to animal welfare assessment have been pursued largely in […]

Influence of rearing conditions of pullets on space use and performance of hens placed in aviaries at the beginning of the laying period

little work has been done on the adaptation of hens to this system according to their previous rearing conditions, despite the specific adaptation skills it requires of them. The adaptation to laying aviaries of hens previously reared in different conditions was assessed here through their use of vertical levels, numbers and distances of flights and […]

Validation of tests for on-farm assessment of the hen–human relationship in non-cage systems

The relationship of laying hens towards humans is an important aspect of animal welfare. Tests for assessing the hen–human relationship on farm should be validated prior to their use. In this paper, we investigated the validity of three recently developed tests assumed to measure the hen–human relationship in non-caged hens. The study was conducted in […]

Effect of four processed animal proteins in the diet on behavior in laying hens

An experiment was performed to investigate the effect of animal versus vegetable protein sources in the diet on the development of behavior in laying hens. A diet containing protein sources of only vegetable origin was compared with four diets, each containing one of four processed animal proteins (PAPs). Two PAPs (Daka-58 and Sonac-60) were classified […]

Effects of cage height and stocking density on the frequency of comfort behaviours performed by laying hens housed in furnished cages

Spatial restriction and low cage height can reduce the rate at which comfort activities, such as wing flaps, stretching, body shakes and tail wags, are carried out by laying hens in conventional wire cages. In this study we investigated the performance of these activities in laying hens housed in furnished cages with perches and nest […]

The effect of diet change on the behaviour of layer pullets

Frequent diet change has been identified as a risk factor for feather pecking in commercial flocks but the mechanism underlying this association is not known. In this experiment we simulated a commercial change of diet between high quality (HQ) 19% protein, and low quality (LQ) 15% protein, diets. Twelve pairs of birds were fed both […]

The effect of essential oils showing acaricidal activity against the poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) on aspects of welfare and production of laying hens

The poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) causes severe welfare concerns for laying hens arising from anaemia and disease transmission, and has been identified as an associated risk factor in cannibalistic feather pecking. Previous work suggests that essential oils may offer an alternative to synthetic acaricides to control D. gallinae. Such alternatives are needed due to […]

The preferences of laying hens for perforated Astroturf over conventional wire as a dustbathing substrate in furnished cages

Following the 2012 European ban (1999/74/EC) of conventional battery cages, only furnished cages will be allowed for laying hens. However, even when furnished cages provide a pecking and scratching area most dustbathing occurs on the wire floor. This study aimed to investigate whether laying hens showed a preference for dustbathing on a covered wire floor […]

Relationships between multiple welfare indicators measured in individual chickens across different time periods and environments

The assessment of animal welfare requires the collection of multiple indicators of welfare but quantification of their associations in different contexts is lacking. Previous studies have examined correlations between a few indicators, but not relationships between many different indicators, or between indicators taken from the same individuals in more than one environment. We housed 60 […]

Development of on-farm methods to assess the animal-human relationship in laying hens kept in non-cage systems

The aim of this study was to develop a set of tests to assess the reaction of laying hens towards humans in non-cage systems and to investigate the repeatability within and between days. Based on a literature survey six tests were developed or modified, which were examined for practicability and adapted in a first phase. […]