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Egg production in furnished cages

Valkonen, Eija (2010) Egg production in furnished cages. PhD thesis, MTT Agrifood Research Finland. MTT Science, no. 12. MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

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Summary

In the European Union, conventional cages for laying hens will be faded out at the beginning of 2012. The rationale behind this is a public concern over animal welfare in egg production. As alternatives to conventional cages, the European Union Council Directive 1999/74/ EC allows non-cage systems and enriched (furnished) cages. Layer performance, behavior, and welfare in differently sized furnished cages have been investigated quite widely during recent decades, but nutrition of hens in this production system has received less attention.
This thesis aims to compare production and feed intake of laying hens in furnished and conventional cages and to study the effects of different dietary treatments in these production systems, thus contributing to the general knowledge of furnished cages as an egg production system. A furnished cage model for 8 hens was compared with a 3-hen conventional cage.
Three consecutive experiments each studied one aspect of layer diet: The first experiment investigated the effects of dietary protein/energy ratio, the second dietary energy levels, and the third the effects of extra limestone supplementation. In addition, a fourth experiment evaluated the effects of perches on feed consumption and behavior of hens in furnished cages.
The dietary treatments in experiments 1–3 generally had similar effects in the two cage types. Thus, there was no evidence supporting a change in nutrient requirements for laying hens when conventional cages are replaced with small-group furnished cages. Moreover, the results from nutritional experiments conducted in conventional cages can be applied to smallgroup furnished cage systems.
These results support the view that production performance comparable with conventional cages can be achieved in furnished cages. All of the advantages of cages for bird welfare are sustained in the smallgroup furnished cages used here. In addition, frequent use of perches and nests implies a wider behavioral repertoire in furnished cages than in conventional cages. The increase observed in bone ash content may improve bird welfare in furnished cages.
The presence of perches diminished feed consumption during the prelaying period and enhanced the feed conversion ratio during the early laying period in furnished cages. However, as the presence or absence of perches in furnished cages had no significant effect on feed consumption after the prelaying period, the lower feed consumption observed in furnished cages than in conventional cages could be attributed to other factors, such as the presence of wood shavings or a nest box. The wider feed trough space per hen in conventional than in furnished cages may partly explain the higher feed consumption observed in conventional cages.


EPrint Type:Thesis
Keywords:laying hen, furnished cage, enriched cage, egg production, nutrition, behaviour
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Finland > MTT Agrifood Research
Related Links:http://www.mtt.fi/english
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:18054
Deposited On:12 Nov 2010 10:12
Last Modified:12 Nov 2010 10:12
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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