Rearing laying hens in aviaries reduces fearfulness following transfer to furnished cages

Brantsæter, Margrethe and Tahamtani, Fernanda M. and Moe, Randi O. and Hansen, Tone B. and Orritt, Rachel and Nicol, Christine and Janczak, Andrew M. (2016) Rearing laying hens in aviaries reduces fearfulness following transfer to furnished cages. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 3 (13). ISSN 2297-1769

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2016.00013

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Rearing laying hens in aviaries reduces fearfulness following transfer to furnished cages
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Abstract

Appropriate rearing is essential for ensuring the welfare and productivity of laying hens. Early experience has the potential to affect the development of fearfulness. This study tested whether rearing in aviaries, as opposed to cages, reduces the fearfulness of laying hens after transfer to furnished cages. Fear responses were recorded as avoidance of a novel object in the home cage. Lohmann Selected Leghorns were reared in an aviary system or conventional rearing cages and then transported to furnished cages at 16 weeks, before the onset of lay. Observations of a selection of birds were conducted at 19 (N = 50 independent cages) and 21 (N = 48 independent cages) weeks of age. At 19 and 21 weeks, cage-reared birds showed higher levels of fearfulness indicated by spending more time away from the novel object compared to aviary-reared birds. These results suggest that rearing in an enriched aviary environment reduces fearfulness up to the fifth week after transfer to a new housing system, compared to rearing in cages.

Keywords:hens, rearing, animal welfare, fear, laying hens, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D423 Poultry keeping
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:22418
Deposited On:04 Mar 2016 09:56

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