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How to motivate laying hens to use the hen run?

Zeltner, Esther; Hirt, Helen and Hauser, J. (2004) How to motivate laying hens to use the hen run? In: Hovi, Malla; Sundrum, Albert and Padel, Susanne (Eds.) Organic livestock farming: potential and limitations of husbandry practice to secure animal health and welfare and food quality. Proceedings of the 2nd SAFO Workshop 25-27 March 2004, Witzenhausen, Germany. SAFO Sustaining Animal Health and Food Safety in Organic Farming. A European Commission funded Concerted Action Project. University of Reading, pp. 161-165.

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Summary

In organic agriculture, hens are kept in free range systems. A free range is an enrichment for the hens and brings several advantages for them. Laying hens may show behavioural elements that are not possible in a poultry house. For instance, sunbathing behaviour is only shown in direct sunlight and not in artificial light (Huber, 1987). Hens spend 35.3-47.5% of their time with food searching (Fölsch and Vestergaard, 1981) and, in natural habitats, invertebrate food appears to be an importnat addition to the diet (Savory et al. 1978). Free range systems may also have an influence on animal health and product quality. Lopez-Bote et al. (1998) suggested that some constituents of grass might be of interest for the production of eggs rich in (n-3) fatty acids.
In flocks of free range hens, generally only a small proportion of the flock is outside at any one time, and most hens stay near the poultry house. In an account of the uneven distribution of the hens in the free range area, Menzi et al. (1997) found a nutrient and heavy metal overload on the frequently used parts of the run. For a better distribution, they, as well as several label programmes, recommend to structure the outdoor area with trees and installations providing shade and protection for the hens.
We attempted to determine management and structural factors that would result in more hens in the run and a more even distribution of the animals in several experiments, with a special emphasis on the idea that the hen run should be easily manageable for the farmer.


EPrint Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Legehennen, Auslauf, Biogeflügelhaltung, Grünauslauf, Strukturierung
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Poultry
Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal Husbandry and Breeding
Related Links:http://www.fibl.org/forschung/tierhaltung/index.php
Deposited By: Zeltner, Esther
ID Code:3159
Deposited On:06 Sep 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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