The welfare of layer hens in cage and cage-free housing systems

Published on Dec 1, 2017in Worlds Poultry Science Journal1.364
· DOI :10.1017/S0043933917000812
K.M. Hartcher1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals),
Bidda Jones9
Estimated H-index: 9
(Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Historically, animal welfare has been defined by the absence of negative states such as disease, hunger and thirst. However, a shift in animal welfare science has led to the understanding that good animal welfare cannot be achieved without the experience of positive states. Unequivocally, the housing environment has significant impacts on animal welfare. This review summarises how cage and cage-free housing systems impact some of the key welfare issues for layer hens: musculoskeletal health, disease, severe feather pecking, and behavioural expression. Welfare in cage-free systems is currently highly variable, and needs to be addressed by management practices, genetic selection, further research, and appropriate design and maintenance of the housing environment. Conventional cages lack adequate space for movement, and do not include features to allow behavioural expression. Hens therefore experience extreme behavioural restriction, musculoskeletal weakness and an inability to experience positive affective states. Furnished cages retain the benefits of conventional cages in terms of production efficiency and hygiene, and offer some benefits of cage-free systems in terms of an increased behavioural repertoire, but do not allow full behavioural expression. In Australia, while the retail market share of free-range eggs has been increasing in recent years, the majority of hens (approximately 70%) remain housed in conventional cages, and furnished cages are not in use. Unlike many other countries including New Zealand, Canada, and all those within the European Union (where a legislated phase-out commenced in 1999 and was completed in 2012) a legislative phase-out of conventional cages has not been announced in Australia. This review came about in light of the current development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry in Australia. These standards are intended to provide nationally consistent legislation for the welfare of all poultry species in all Australian states and territories. While it is purported that the standards will reflect contemporary scientific knowledge, there is no scientific review, nor scientific committee to inform the development of these standards, and conventional cages are permitted in the standards with no phase-out proposed.
  • References (80)
  • Citations (3)
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
2 Citations
11 Citations
78% of Scinapse members use related papers. After signing in, all features are FREE.
#1T.M. Widowski (U of G: University of Guelph)H-Index: 1
#2Paul H. Hemsworth (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 50
Last. J.-L. Rault (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 3
view all 4 authors...
Confinement housing appears to be at the forefront of concern about farm animal welfare. Although many factors may affect the welfare of commercial laying hens housed in cage and non-cage systems, welfare issues in confinement systems often involve behavioural restrictions, while many welfare issues in more extensive systems involve health and hygiene. Hens require an absolute amount of three-dimensional space in order to be able to perform basic body movements. They may prefer to distance thems...
9 CitationsSource
#1David Mellor (Massey University)H-Index: 58
The Five Freedoms have had major impact on animal welfare thinking internationally. However, despite clear initial statements that the words ‘freedom from’ should indicate ‘as free as possible from’, the Freedoms have come to be represented as absolute or fundamental freedoms, even rights, by some animal advocate and other groups. Moreover, a marked increase in scientific understanding over the last two decades shows that the Freedoms do not capture the more nuanced knowledge of the biological p...
80 CitationsSource
#1J.L.T. HeerkensH-Index: 11
#2Evelyne DelezieH-Index: 9
Last. Frank Tuyttens (UGent: Ghent University)H-Index: 26
view all 7 authors...
Aviary systems for laying hens offer space and opportunities to perform natural behaviors. However, hen welfare can be impaired due to increased risk for keel bone and foot pad disorders in those systems. This cross-sectional study (N = 47 flocks) aimed to assess prevalences of keel bone and foot pad disorders in laying hens housed in aviaries in Belgium to identify risk factors for these disorders and their relation to egg production. Information on housing characteristics and egg production we...
20 CitationsSource
#1K. M. HartcherH-Index: 3
#2S. J. WilkinsonH-Index: 8
Last. Greg M. CroninH-Index: 22
view all 4 authors...
5 CitationsSource
#1Lisanne StadigH-Index: 7
#2Bart AmpeH-Index: 12
Last. Frank TuyttensH-Index: 26
view all 7 authors...
As of 2012, the EU has banned the use of conventional cages (CC) for laying hens, causing a shift in housing systems. This study’s aim was to gain insight into farmers’ opinions on hen health and welfare in their current housing systems. A survey was sent to 218 Belgian egg farmers, of which 127 (58.3%) responded, with 84 still active as egg farmer. Hen welfare tended to be less important in choosing the housing system for farmers with cage than with non-cage systems. Respondents currently using...
17 CitationsSource
#2Josep CasacubertaH-Index: 22
Last. Jean‐Michel WalH-Index: 13
view all 18 authors...
The Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA GMO Panel) has evaluated the overall safety of genetically modified (GM) carnation SHD-27531-4 cut flowers to be imported into the European Union (EU) for ornamental use. The genetic modification results in the flowers having purple petals. The stability of the new colour trait was observed over multiple vegetative generations. The purple colour of the petals comes from the altered expression level...
#1Andrew M. Janczak (NMBU: Norwegian University of Life Sciences)H-Index: 19
#2Anja B. Riber (AU: Aarhus University)H-Index: 10
Laying hens may face a number of welfare problems including: acute and chronic pain caused by beak trimming; exaggerated fearfulness that may cause stress and suffocation; difficulties in locating resources, resulting potentially in emaciation and dehydration; frustration and boredom, caused by an environment that is barren; feather pecking; cannibalism; foot lesions; and bone fractures. In Europe, a greater proportion of laying hens are housed in non-cage systems compared to the rest of the wor...
46 CitationsSource
#1K. M. Hartcher (UNE: University of New England (Australia))H-Index: 3
#2K. T. N. Tran (USYD: University of Sydney)H-Index: 1
Last. Greg M. Cronin (USYD: University of Sydney)H-Index: 22
view all 6 authors...
This experiment investigated effects of environmental enrichment and beak-trimming during the rearing period on behavior in rearing and plumage damage later in life. Treatments were applied in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Half of the birds were beak-trimmed at 1 d of age using an infra-red laser. A follow-up light-trim was performed at 11 wk of age with a hot blade. Environmental enrichment consisted of pecking strings, whole oats in the litter, and greater litter depth. Sixteen pens of 50 ISA...
23 CitationsSource
#1Paul H. Hemsworth (University of Melbourne)H-Index: 50
#2David Mellor (Massey University)H-Index: 58
Last. Alan J. Tilbrook (South Australian Research and Development Institute)H-Index: 36
view all 4 authors...
Animal welfare is a state within the animal and a scientific perspective provides methodologies for evidence-based assessment of an animal's welfare. A simplistic definition of animal welfare might be how the animal feels now. Affective experiences including emotions, are subjective states so cannot be measured directly in animals, but there are informative indirect physiological and behavioural indices that can be cautiously used to interpret such experiences. This review enunciates several key...
55 CitationsSource
#1Britta ScholzH-Index: 6
#2Joergen KjaerH-Index: 15
Last. Lars SchraderH-Index: 19
view all 4 authors...
Within the European Union, dustbath- ing material in cage-housing systems for laying hens became compulsory in 2012. In practice, most produc- ers use food particles as litter substrate. The feed is dropped in small amounts on scratching mats by an automatic transporting system. However, because dust- bathing behavior is meant to remove stale lipids from hens' plumage, food particles may not be a suitable substrate due to their fat content. This study analyzes feather lipid concentration (FLC) o...
6 CitationsSource
Cited By3
#1Juan WangH-Index: 1
#2Nan WangH-Index: 1
Last. Zhenhui RenH-Index: 1
view all 4 authors...
In order to detect the behavior of egg breeders in self-breeding cages rapidly, a method of target location and behavior recognition based on visual images was proposed. In this study, Hy-Line Gray chickens were bred as objects. Through manual marking, the training set, validation set and test set were established, and YOLO v3 model was adopted to detect the collected images. The value of subdivision and batch size were determined by experiment. The learning rate was dynamically adjusted accordi...
1 CitationsSource
#1C. Rizzi (UNIPD: University of Padua)H-Index: 6
This study compared the yield performance, laying behavioural traits and egg quality of purebred and hybrid hens (from 28 until 44 weeks of age, considering four periods) reared under outdoor conditions. The four genotypes were reared on the same trial station, on four areas (one genotype/area), and under the same environmental conditions from hatching until the end of the trial. Italian dual-purpose purebred (Ermellinata di Rovigo—ER and Robusta maculata—RM) and hybrid (Hy-Line Brown—HB and Hy-...
#1T. Z. Sibanda (UNE: University of New England (Australia))H-Index: 1
#2S. W. Walkden-Brown (UNE: University of New England (Australia))H-Index: 1
Last. Isabelle Ruhnke (UNE: University of New England (Australia))H-Index: 8
view all 11 authors...
ABSTRACT1. The objective of this study was to investigate the association of using a multi-tier aviary system and access to range on flock uniformity in free-range laying hens, and to determine whe...
5 CitationsSource
#1Guoming LiH-Index: 1
#2Yan XuH-Index: 1
Last. Yanbo HuangH-Index: 1
view all 5 authors...
The manual collection of eggs laid on the floor (or ‘floor eggs’) in cage-free (CF) laying hen housing is strenuous and time-consuming. Using robots for automatic floor egg collection offers a novel solution to reduce labor yet relies on robust egg detection systems. This study sought to develop vision-based floor-egg detectors using three Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), i.e., single shot detector (SSD), faster region-based CNN (faster R-CNN), and region-based fully convolutional network (...
1 CitationsSource
#1Lenka Vecerkova (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 2
#2Vladimir Večerek (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 15
Last. Eva Voslarova (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 12
view all 3 authors...
ABSTRACT The transport of end-of-lay hens for slaughter presents a particular cause for concern in relation to hen welfare due to their less robust condition. During the period of 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2017, 17,436,074 end-of-lay hens transported for slaughter in 3,144 consignments were monitored, i.e., all hens transported from Czech farms to slaughterhouses in the Czech Republic in the monitored period. The overall mortality of hens during transport for slaughter was 0.516%. A signific...
#1Vladimir Večerek (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 15
#2Lenka Vecerkova (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 2
Last. Eva Voslarova (VFU: University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno)H-Index: 12
view all 3 authors...
: We have investigated the health condition of laying hens on the basis of patho-anatomic findings obtained during the veterinary inspection after slaughter. To assess the severity of the health condition of laying hens, we compared the incidence of findings with the findings in broiler chickens and turkeys. In the period from 2010 to 2017, 17,346,183 laying hens, 887,994,167 broiler chickens, and 919,843 turkeys were transported from Czech farms to slaughterhouses in the Czech Republic. The com...
#1M. S. RehmanH-Index: 2
#2Athar Mahmud (UVAS: University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences)H-Index: 7
Last. Jibran Hussain (UVAS: University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences)H-Index: 6
view all 6 authors...
ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to explore the effects of free-range (FR), part-time free-range (PTFR), and cage system (CS) on behavioral repertoire in Lakha (LK), Mushki (MS), Peshawari (PW), and Sindhi (SN) varieties of Aseel chicken during the growing phase (9 to 18 wk of age). In total, 144 Aseel pullets were allotted to 12 treatment groups in a 3 × 4 (rearing system × Aseel variety) factorial arrangement, according to a randomized complete block design (RCBD). Each treatment group...