The effect of quality and availability of foraging materials on feather pecking in laying hen chicks

Feather pecking resulting in feather damage, injuries and mortality causes severe welfare problems in laying hens. In the present study, we tested whether there is an inverse relationship between feather pecking and foraging behaviour (exploratory and manipulative behaviour away from the feeder). Forty-eight groups of 30 or 31 chicks, Gallus gallus domesticus, were reared in […]

Comparison of behavior, physical condition and performance of laying hens in four molting methods

The objective of the present study was to evaluate the welfare level of hens in four molting methods by comparing their behavior, physical condition and performance. In total, 96 White Leghorn layers (72 weeks of age) were used. The four molting methods consisted of 10 days of feeding and the first 3 days of water […]

On-farm assessment of laying hen welfare: a comparison of one environment-based and two animal-based methods

Methods available to assess animal welfare at farm level are based on a range of welfare parameters, which can be divided into two categories, environment-based and animal-based parameters. The first category describes features of the environment and management, which can be considered prerequisites for welfare. The second category records animals’ responses to that particular environment […]

Motivational aspects of individual variation in response to nestboxes by laying hens

Laying hens,Gallus gallus domesticusshow individual variation in pre-laying behaviour including their ultimate choice of nest site. In housing systems with nestboxes, the majority of hens make a small number of long visits to nestboxes and lay their eggs therein, but some hens make many short visits and occasionally lay outside the nestbox. We investigated the […]

Perch material and diameter affects particular perching behaviours in laying hens

Resting on perches is an important behaviour for laying hens. However, perches in laying hen husbandry systems are associated with health problems which may result from inadequate perch designs. The aim of this study was to focus on particular behavioural patterns shown by laying hens on different perches during night-time in order to test whether […]

Reduction in feather pecking and improvement of feather condition with the presentation of a string device to chickens

Feather pecking remains a serious problem in commercial egg production. It has been argued that feather pecking occurs as a result of misdirected pecking, so a possible solution would be to increase the likelihood that such pecking was targeted at another object in the environment rather than to the feathers of conspecifics. Chickens of various […]

Applying chemical stimuli on feathers to reduce feather pecking in laying hens

Recent studies have shown that spraying a distasteful substance (quinine) on a bird’s feather cover reduced short-term feather pecking. The present experiment evaluated if other substances offer similar or better protection against feather pecking. One hundred and twenty birds were divided into 12 groups of 10 birds each. Over a period of 10 days the […]

Feather pecking in laying hens: new insights and directions for research?

The aim of this paper is to present new insights and promising directions for future research on feather pecking in laying hens. Our starting point was a multidisciplinary research program on feather pecking in The Netherlands, in which ethological, physiological, ontogenetic and genetic approaches were combined. The four topics addressed in this paper are: (1) […]

Canopy cover is correlated with reduced injurious feather pecking in commercial flocks of free-range laying hens

Injurious feather pecking in non-cage systems is a serious economic and welfare concern for the egg-producing industry. Here, we describe the first results from an ongoing collaborative project to improve range environment and welfare of laying hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) within the McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, UK supply base. The objective of this study was to […]

The value of environmental resources to domestic hens: a comparison of the work-rate for food and for nests as a function of time

Twelve Isa Brown hens (Gallus gallus domesticus) were trained to open a locked door for access to a pen containing an enclosed nest box (‘nest test’) and to return to a home pen containing food, water, litter and a perch (‘home test’). The door was connected to a computer-controlled load cell, which recorded work exerted […]