Behavioural and Nutritional Management of Non-Beak Treated Hens Housed in Furnished Cages

Date

2017-03-22

Authors

Morrissey, Krysta

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

University of Guelph

Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of how to manage flocks of non-beak treated laying hens without increasing damage and mortality due to injurious pecking. Three studies, outlined in four chapters, assessed the effects of breed, beak treatment, extra enrichments, and dietary alterations on mortality, behaviour, feather condition, beak shape, and production parameters. In the first study, it was demonstrated that breed affected mortality, bird-to-bird pecking, feather damage, and enrichment use (i.e. Lohmann Classic Brown > Hyline Brown). Hens with intact beaks had more feather damage, caused more damage to the extra enrichments, and had longer upper mandibles. In the second study, dietary alterations affected both behaviour and production parameters. Hens fed animal protein laid more eggs with brown spots, laid lighter eggs, had higher excreta dry matter content, and caused more damage to the extra enrichments than hens fed a purely plant based diet. Hens fed a high fibre diet required a larger volume of feed, laid fewer dirty and/or bloody eggs, had higher excreta dry matter content, and performed fewer spot pecks near the end of the study than hens fed a diet with a standard level of fibre. In the third study, breed affected upper mandible length and beak tip angle (i.e. Columbian Rocks had longer and sharper beaks). The use of extra enrichments was carried out over all three experiments and overall the results were encouraging. Hens with extra enrichments performed less bird-to-bird and spot pecking, had less feather damage, tended to have shorter beaks (cuttlebones only), and tended to have blunter beak tips (with increased cuttlebone use), but had fewer ‘good’ quality eggs.

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Keywords

behaviour, laying hen, beak treatment, beak trimming, enrichment, animal protein, extra fibre, furnished cage, cuttlebone, poultry, welfare

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