The effect of perch availability during pullet rearing and egg laying on the behavior of caged White Leghorn hens.

Published on Oct 1, 2014in Poultry Science2.027
· DOI :10.3382/ps.2014-04038
Patricia Y. Hester25
Estimated H-index: 25
(Purdue University),
Joseph P. Garner36
Estimated H-index: 36
(Stanford University)
+ 2 AuthorsM. E. Einstein3
Estimated H-index: 3
(Purdue University)
Enriched cages, compared with conventional cages, allow egg laying strains of chickens to meet some behavioral needs, including a high motivation to perch. The objective of this study was to determine if perch availability during rearing affected perch use as adults and if perch presence affected eating and drinking in caged White Leghorn hens. Chickens were assigned to 14 cages each with and without 2 round metal perches from hatch to 16.9 wk of age. At 17 wk of age, pullets were assigned to laying cages consisting of 1 of 4 treatments. Treatment 1 chickens never had access to perches (controls). Treatment 2 chickens only had access to 2 round metal perches during the laying phase (17 to 71 wk of age). Treatment 3 chickens only had access to 2 round perches during the pullet phase (0 to 16.9 wk of age). Treatment 4 chickens had access to the perches during both the pullet and laying phase. Each treatment during the adult phase consisted of 9 cages with 9 birds/cage for a total of 36 cages. Automatic infrared cameras were used to monitor behavior of hens in each cage for a 24-h period at 19, 24, 29, 34, 39, 44, 49, 54, 59, 64, and 69 wk of age. Behavior was also recorded twice weekly by an observer in the room where the hens were housed during photophase from 25 to 68 wk of age. Behavioral data were analyzed using ANOVA with repeated measures and the MIXED model procedure. A greater proportion of hens without perches as pullets used the rear perch more during both photophase and scotophase than hens with prior pullet perching experience. Eating and drinking activities of caged adult Leghorns were not impaired by their prior experience to perches as pullets or by the presence of perches in laying cages. It is concluded that providing perches in cages to White Leghorns during pullet rearing did not facilitate use of perches as adults.
  • References (22)
  • Citations (2)
#1S Jiang (SWU: Southwest University)H-Index: 1
#2Patricia Y. Hester (Purdue University)H-Index: 25
Last. H. W. Cheng (ARS: Agricultural Research Service)H-Index: 12
view all 6 authors...
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The public wants assurances that animals used for food are raised humanely. Conventional cages for egg laying hens do not meet hen's behavioural needs, but cages have potential advantages such as improved liveability and respiratory health because of less aerial ammonia and dust as compared to non-cage systems. Providing amenities to cages might be a compromise that allows hens to reap some of the advantages of conventional cages and also better meet their behavioural needs. This review focuses ...
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#1Patricia Y. Hester (Purdue University)H-Index: 25
#2S. A. Enneking (Purdue University)H-Index: 4
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A major skeletal problem of conventional- ly caged hens is increased susceptibility to osteoporosis mainly due to lack of exercise. Osteoporosis is charac- terized by a progressive decrease in mineralized struc- tural bone. Whereas considerable attention has been given to enriching laying cages, little research has been conducted on providing caged pullets with furnish- ments, in particular perches. The objective of the cur- rent study was to determine if metal perches during all or part of the ...
36 CitationsSource
#1Patricia Y. Hester (Purdue University)H-Index: 25
#2S. A. Enneking (Purdue University)H-Index: 4
Last. David A. Rubin (ISU: Illinois State University)H-Index: 16
view all 6 authors...
Enrichment of pullet cages with perches has not been studied. Our objective was to determine if access to metal perches during all or part of the life cycle of caged White Leghorns affected egg traits, foot health, and feather condition. Treatment 1 represented control chickens that never had access to perches during their life cycle. Treatment 2 hens had perches only during the egg laying phase of the life cycle (17 to 71 wk of age), whereas treatment 3 chickens had perches during the pullet ph...
26 CitationsSource
#1S. A. Enneking (Purdue University)H-Index: 4
#2H. W. Cheng (ARS: Agricultural Research Service)H-Index: 15
Last. Patricia Y. Hester (Purdue University)H-Index: 25
view all 6 authors...
Osteoporosis, a progressive decrease in mineralized structural bone, causes 20 to 35% of all mortalities in caged White Leghorn hens. Previous research has focused on manipulating the egg laying environment to improve skeletal health, with little research on the pullet. The objective of the current study was to determine the effect of perch access on pullet health, bone mineralization, muscle deposition, and stress in caged White Leghorns. From 0 to 17 wk of age, half of the birds were placed in...
29 CitationsSource
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Abstract Environmental enrichment is thought likely to benefit chickens and farmers in many ways; these include reduced fearfulness and feather pecking and improved productivity. Enrichment devices would intuitively be more effective if they reliably attracted and sustained appreciable interest but many fail to do so. This may reflect the fact that the choice of stimuli often reflects availability and human preconceptions rather than a critical consideration of the birds' preferences and pre-dis...
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1. Effects of rearing conditions on behavioural problems were investigated in a cohort study of commercial flocks of laying hens housed in 2 different loose housing systems. The sample population was 120 385 laying hens from 59 flocks of various hybrids at 21 different farms. 2. Logistic regression modelling was used to test the effects of selected factors on floor eggs, cloacal cannibalism and feather pecking. In addition to early access to perches or litter, models included hybrid, stocking de...
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#1Patricia Y. Hester (Purdue University)H-Index: 1
Surveys indicate that consumers want animals that are used for food to be able to express their natural behaviors. Cages for laying hens that are furnished with a nest, perches, nail trimmers, and a scratch pad/foraging area provide opportunities for hens to perform instinctive behaviors that they otherwise could not do at all or not very easily in the barren conventional cage. To meet consumer demand, the egg industry worldwide is beginning to use enriched cages; however, the design of the enri...
#1Maurice D. Dale (ISU: Illinois State University)H-Index: 2
#2Erin M. Mortimer (UIUC: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign)H-Index: 1
Last. David A. Rubin (Purdue University)H-Index: 16
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Osteoporosis is a bone disease that commonly results in a 30% incidence of fracture in hens used to produce eggs for human consumption. One of the causes of osteoporosis is the lack of mechanical strain placed on weight-bearing bones. In conventionally-caged hens, there is inadequate space for chickens to exercise and induce mechanical strain on their bones. One approach is to encourage mechanical stress on bones by the addition of perches to conventional cages. Our study focuses on the molecula...
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