Design of nest access grids and perches in front of the nests: Influence on the behavior of laying hens.

Stämpfli, K.; Buchwalder, T.; Fröhlich, E. K. F.; Roth, Beatrice A. (2013). Design of nest access grids and perches in front of the nests: Influence on the behavior of laying hens. Poultry Science, 92(4), pp. 890-899. Poultry Science Association 10.3382/ps.2011-02046

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In aviary systems for laying hens, it is important to provide suitable nest access platforms in front of the nests, allowing hens to reach and explore each of the nests easily. This access platform is needed to achieve good nest acceptance by the hens and thereby prevent mislaid eggs. In the present experiment, the behavior of hens using 2 different nest access platforms, a plastic grid and 2 wooden perches, was examined. Furthermore, the nests were placed on both sides of the aviary rack (corridor side and outdoor side), either integrated into the aviary rack itself (integrated nest; IN) or placed on the walls of the pens (wall nest; WN), resulting in a 2 × 2 factorial design Four thousand five hundred white laying hens were housed in 20 test pens. The eggs in the nests and mislaid eggs were collected daily, and the behavior of hens on the nest accesses was filmed during wk 25 and 26, using focal observation and scan sampling methods. More balancing, body contact, and agonistic interactions were expected for nests with perches, whereas more walking and nest inspections were expected for nests with grids. There were more mislaid eggs and balancing found in pens equipped with nests with wooden perches. More agonistic interactions and balancing, less standing, and a longer duration of nest inspection were found with the WN compared with the IN. Interactions between platform design and position of the nests were found for duration of nest visits, body contact, and walking, with the highest amount for WN equipped with plastic grids. Nests on the corridor side were favored by the hens. Nest-related behaviors, such as nest inspection, standing, and walking, decreased over time as did the number of hens on the nest accesses, whereas sitting increased. These results indicate that the hens had more difficulties in gripping the perches as designed. The lower number of hens on the nest access platforms in front of IN may be due to a better distribution around nests and tier changes within the aviary rack. Based on these results, grids rather than perches provide for improved nesting behavior.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute > Animal Welfare Division

UniBE Contributor:

Roth, Beatrice

Subjects:

600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

0032-5791

Publisher:

Poultry Science Association

Language:

English

Submitter:

Susanne Portner

Date Deposited:

22 Aug 2014 11:27

Last Modified:

14 Oct 2015 11:35

Publisher DOI:

10.3382/ps.2011-02046

PubMed ID:

23472011

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.45797

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/45797

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