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Providing laying hens with perches: fulfilling behavioural needs but causing injury?

Published on Jul 1, 2009in British Poultry Science1.42
· DOI :10.1080/00071660903110844
Victoria Sandilands13
Estimated H-index: 13
(SAC: Scottish Agricultural College),
C. Moinard1
Estimated H-index: 1
(SAC: Scottish Agricultural College),
N. H. C. Sparks20
Estimated H-index: 20
(SAC: Scottish Agricultural College)
Abstract
1. The EU laying hen directive, which bans standard battery cages from 2012, has implications for animal welfare, particularly since housing laying hens in extensive systems, while increasing natural behaviour and improving bone strength, is associated with a greater level of bone fractures, predominantly of the keel bone, compared to birds housed in cages. 2. The aetiology and welfare consequences of keel and other bone fractures are not well understood and could have important implications for housing system designs. While proposed alterations to layer housing are based on the desire to fulfil behavioural needs and increase bone strength, there appears to have been little consideration of the effect of system on potential injury. 3. In addition, there are variations in how the directive is interpreted. For example, egg producers housing hens in extensive systems in Scotland and Northern Ireland must provide hens with aerial perches, whereas in England and Wales they do not. Aerial perches may be implica...
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