Nesting and pre-laying behaviours e.g. exploratory pecking and searching, are considered to be behavioural needs for laying hens. From 1st January 2012 onwards caged laying hens in Europe must be housed in enriched cages providing, amongst other things, a nest box to facilitate nesting behaviour. However, not all birds use nest boxes; estimates of eggs laid in nest boxes range from 44-95%, with some birds persistently miss-laying eggs e.g. in litter areas. There are potential economic consequences of this: miss-laid eggs, especially those laid in litter areas, may be of a poorer quality, with more breakages and eggshell contamination, and are consequently more likely to be down-graded to second quality eggs. We are beginning an experiment in a UK commercial flock, examining the differences in laying behaviour associated with a variety of nest box furnishings. We will compare four different floor types (currently in commercial use in the UK) and two curtain lengths, in a factorial design (eight treatments), recording laying behaviours with cameras both above the nest box and outside the nest box. This level of filming has not been done before in a commercial system, and thus should provide new data and insights on bird behaviour. We will also record production data and red mite infestation, to examine the economic implications of the treatments. Here we present the outcome of tests of camera set-ups, and very early data on laying behaviour in our experimental treatments.
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
|Event||European Poultry Conference - Norway, Stavanger, Norway|
Duration: 23 Jun 2014 → 27 Jun 2014
|Conference||European Poultry Conference|
|Period||23/06/14 → 27/06/14|