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Keel bone fractures affect egg laying performance but not egg quality in laying hens housed in a commercial aviary system

Published on Apr 1, 2019in Poultry Science2.027
· DOI :10.3382/ps/pey544
Christina Barbara Rufener3
Estimated H-index: 3
(University of Bern),
Sarah Dorothea Baur2
Estimated H-index: 2
(University of Bern)
+ 1 AuthorsMichael J. Toscano18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Bern)
Sources
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of keel bone fracture (KBF) severity and healing activity on individual productivity of laying hens. Focal hens (75 Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL), 75 Lohmann Brown (LB)) were housed alongside non-focal hens in 10 identical pens containing a commercial aviary system (15 focal hens per pen). Eggs of focal hens were identified by orally administering a dye on 3 consecutive days, resulting in a hen-specific color pattern in the yolk. Eggs were collected at 7 time points (37 to 61 weeks of age; WOA) for 5 d to determine individual laying performance and to assess egg quality. Radiographs were performed to score KBF severity on a continuous scale. Healing activity was scored as inactive, healing, or fresh. Linear mixed effects models were used for statistical analyses. We found an association between KBF severity and reduced egg laying performance with increasing age (P = 0.005). At 37 WOA, egg laying performance was similar across KBF severities, whereas at 61 WOA, performance in hens with the highest observed KBF severity was 16.2% lower than in hens without fractures. Hens with fresh fractures had a lower performance than hens with healing and inactive fractures at 37 WOA but higher performance at 61 WOA (P = 0.02). Egg quality parameters were not affected by fractures but were associated with an age × hybrid interaction (egg mass: P = 0.039, shell breaking strength: P = 0.03, shell width: P = 0.001). In conclusion, hens could maintain high performance irrespective of fracture severity until shortly after peak of lay, but seemed to redirect available resources towards fracture healing if a fresh fracture was present. At the end of lay, the negative effect of KBF fracture severity on individual production amplified indicating that hens were no longer able to cope with the physiological challenge of a fracture.
  • References (76)
  • Citations (2)
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#1Christina Barbara Rufener (University of Bern)H-Index: 3
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Up to 97 % of laying hens housed in aviary systems are affected by keel bone fractures. Due to the scope of the problem, multiple efforts investigating causes and consequences of fractures have been conducted. The most frequently used techniques to detect fractures lack accuracy and provide only vague information (palpation) or cannot be conducted longitudinally (dissection). Radiographic imaging overcomes these weaknesses as it allows longitudinal observations and provides detailed information ...
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This paper reviews current knowledge about welfare implications of keel bone damage in laying hens. As an initial part, we shortly describe the different conditions and present major risk factors as well as findings on the prevalence of the conditions. Keel bone damage is found in all types of commercial production, however with varying prevalence across systems, countries, and age of the hens. In general, the understanding of animal welfare is influenced by value-based ideas about what is impor...
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#1Michael J. Toscano (University of Bern)H-Index: 18
Abstract Modern global commercial egg production is undergoing dramatic changes in response to factors ranging from improved understanding and methodologies of genetics and nutrition and changes in housing, to the demands of consumers. Many of these changes are positive since they are associated with improvements to productivity and animal welfare, although the changes have also introduced new challenges and problems around the general issue of poor bone health of hens. In this chapter, two majo...
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Keel bone fractures are a well-known welfare problem in modern commercial laying hen systems. The present study sought to identify genetic variation in relation to keel bone fracture susceptibility of 4 distinct crossbred and one pure line, and by extension, possible breeding traits. Susceptibility to fractures were assessed using an ex vivo impact testing protocol in combination with a study design that min- imized environmental variation to focus on genetic differences. The 5 crossbred/pure li...
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Numerous studies have demonstrated influences of hybrid, feed, and housing on prevalence of keel bone fractures, but influences of behavior and production on an individual level are less known. In this longitudinal study, 80 white and brown laying hens were regularly checked for keel bone deviations and fractures while egg production was individually monitored using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) from production until depopulation at 65 weeks of age. These focal birds were kept in eight p...
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Keel bone damage (KBD) is a critical issue facing the contemporary laying hen industry due to the likely pain leading to compromised welfare and reduced productivity. Recent reports suggest that KBD, while highly variable and likely dependent on a host of factors, extends to all housing systems (including traditional battery cages, furnished cages and non-cage systems), genetic lines, and management styles. Despite the extent of the problem, the research community remains uncertain as to the cau...
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Keel bone fractures in laying hens have been described with increasing prevalence from several countries over the last twenty years and are considered one of the greatest welfare problems to the layer industry. In Denmark we have observed fracture prevalence in the range of 53% to 100% in flocks from cage-free systems whereas flock prevalences in birds from enriched cages ranged between 50–98%. Previous research have speculated that the underlying reason for the development of keel bone fracture...
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In commercial flocks of laying hens, keel bone fractures (KBFs) are prevalent and associated with behavioural indicators of pain. However, whether their impact is severe enough to induce a depressive-like state of chronic stress is unknown. As chronic stress downregulates adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) in mammals and birds, we employ this measure as a neural biomarker of subjective welfare state. Radiographs obtained longitudinally from Lohmann Brown laying hens housed in a commercial mult...
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Keel fracture has negative effects on the health and welfare of laying hens. We investigated effects of keel fracture on stress, inflammation, and the orexin system in laying hens. Ninety 17-week-old Lohmann white laying hens were palpated and euthanatized at 42 weeks old, and marked as normal keel (NK)/fractured keel (FK) from absence/presence of keel fracture. Serum, brain, liver, and abdominal-muscle samples were collected from 10 NK and 10 FK hens to determine the stress and inflammatory res...
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