Can we meet the behavioural needs of laying hens in practice?

CA Weeks

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


    Productivity is no longer considered to be a sufficient index of bird welfare without including other measures. A good husbandry system should also enable hens to express their behavioural needs without compromising their health. This paper discusses the extent to which this is achievable under current commercial constraints, together with bird-based indicators (such as feather-pecking) of unsatisfactory conditions. A behavioural need is defined as one that is performed even in the absence of an optimum environment or resource and which causes psychological suffering if it cannot be expressed. The scientific evidence that foraging, dustbathing, perching, pre-laying and nesting behaviours are behavioural needs is outlined. A hen's preferences and priorities to perform these behaviours and her needs for space can alter with time of day, previous experience, genetics and social context to name a few. Other stakeholders also have a variety of changing factors that need to be taken into consideration. A range of practical options is discussed together with some ways of comparing and evaluating husbandry systems.
    Translated title of the contributionCan we meet the behavioural needs of laying hens in practice?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationXXIII World's Poultry Science Congress, Brisbane, Australia
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Bibliographical note

    Conference Proceedings/Title of Journal: World's Poultry Science Journal, Supplement 2
    Conference Organiser: WPSA
    Other: Proceedings available on CD-ROM (Australian branch WPSA) - invited paper


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