Production, egg quality, bone strength, claw length, and keel bone deformities of laying hens housed in furnished cages with different group sizes
The effects of 3 different furnished cage systems (Aviplus, Eurovent 625a, Eurovent 625A) on 2 different laying hen strains [Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL), Lohmann Brown (LB)] were examined for the traits of production, egg quality, bone strength, claw length, and keel bone status. Two trials were carried out in which all hens received identical feeding and management. In brown hens, the traits egg production per average hen housed, cracked eggs, feed conversion, egg weight, and humerus breaking strength were significantly higher than in white hens. Furthermore, the claws of the brown hens were shorter than those of white hens. There were more dirty eggs, higher shell density, and fewer keel bone deformities in white hens than in brown hens. In the Aviplus system, egg production per average hen housed was higher than in the other systems, whereas shell thickness and density were lower. Humerus strength was also higher in the Aviplus than in the Eurovent 625a system, whereas there was no significant difference in tibia strength among the 3 systems. The shortest claws were found in the Aviplus system, and the fewest keel bone deformities occurred in the Eurovent 625a system. The study showed that the high standards of conventional cages for production and egg quality were met in furnished cages and that bone strength was significantly greater than in conventional cages. Claw shortening devices in furnished cages seemed satisfactory, because claws were generally short. However, the occurrence of keel bone deformities due to the intensive use of perches seemed to be a problem of furnished cages.