This work investigates the effects of structural modifications on the welfare level and laying patterns of hens in a three-tier commercial aviary system. Four experimental groups were used: C (control, housed in a traditional aviary); LM (longitudinal movement, in which internal partitions were removed); VM (vertical movement, in which ramps were installed); and FM (freedom of movement, both LM and VM modifications). Hens showed worse body condition scores (p < 0.05) in all the modified aviaries, while plumage condition was improved in FM but worsened in VM (p < 0.05). No significant effect was observed on egg deposition patterns, egg quality or keel bone damage. When ramps were available (VM and FM groups), hens reduced the number of flights and increased the number of walks from 0.52 to 7.7% of the displacements on average (p < 0.05). Apart from some feather pecking concerns in VM (likely due to overcrowding in some favourite aviary areas), LM and FM seemed to facilitate animal movement and promote species–specific behaviour. It is concluded that hen welfare in aviary systems can be improved by means of tailored structural modifications. Producers may therefore adopt some of these modifications (providing ramps and/or removing vertical barriers) to enhance the welfare of hens.

Influence of Increased Freedom of Movement on Welfare and Egg Laying Pattern of Hens Kept in Aviaries

Eleonora Nannoni;Giovanni Buonaiuto;Giovanna Martelli;Gabriele Lizzi;Luca Sardi
2022

Abstract

This work investigates the effects of structural modifications on the welfare level and laying patterns of hens in a three-tier commercial aviary system. Four experimental groups were used: C (control, housed in a traditional aviary); LM (longitudinal movement, in which internal partitions were removed); VM (vertical movement, in which ramps were installed); and FM (freedom of movement, both LM and VM modifications). Hens showed worse body condition scores (p < 0.05) in all the modified aviaries, while plumage condition was improved in FM but worsened in VM (p < 0.05). No significant effect was observed on egg deposition patterns, egg quality or keel bone damage. When ramps were available (VM and FM groups), hens reduced the number of flights and increased the number of walks from 0.52 to 7.7% of the displacements on average (p < 0.05). Apart from some feather pecking concerns in VM (likely due to overcrowding in some favourite aviary areas), LM and FM seemed to facilitate animal movement and promote species–specific behaviour. It is concluded that hen welfare in aviary systems can be improved by means of tailored structural modifications. Producers may therefore adopt some of these modifications (providing ramps and/or removing vertical barriers) to enhance the welfare of hens.
Eleonora Nannoni,Giovanni Buonaiuto, Giovanna Martelli, Gabriele Lizzi, Giacomo Trevisani, Gloria Garavini, Luca Sardi
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/893613
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