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Pullet Rearing Affects Collisions and Perch Use in Enriched Colony Cage Layer Housing

1
Center for Animal Welfare, Department of Animal Science, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California–Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
2
Animal Behavior Graduate Group, College of Biological Sciences, University of California–Davis, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA
3
Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, California Polytechnic State University, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1269; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081269
Received: 19 June 2020 / Revised: 22 July 2020 / Accepted: 23 July 2020 / Published: 25 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Early-life experiences for laying hens occur in the pullet rearing environment. Hens reared in aviaries use vertical space more than hens reared in non-enriched cages, but this effect has only been studied up to 23 weeks of age. Additionally, hens reared in aviaries sustain fewer keel bone fractures than those reared in non-enriched cages through the age of 73 weeks. Fractures are associated with hens having collisions with structures in their environment, but the long-term effect of rearing on collisions is not known. Lohmann LSL-Lite hens were reared in either aviaries or non-enriched cages until 19 weeks of age, then moved into enriched colony cages. Video recordings at 21, 35, and 49 weeks of age were used to identify behaviors associated with acceleration events for hens fitted with tri-axial accelerometers, as well as the proportion of birds utilizing elevated perches at two different heights. Our results indicate that hens reared in non-enriched cages experience more collisions than aviary-reared hens. Aviary-reared hens also prefer to utilize a higher perch than the cage-reared hens. These results suggest that rearing has long-term effects on space use and the ease with which hens transition among vertical spaces.
Hens reared in aviaries (AVI) as pullets have improved spatial abilities compared to hens reared in non-enriched cages (CON). However, this effect on behavior has been shown only to 23 weeks of age. Lohmann LSL-Lite hens were reared in either CON or AVI until 19 weeks of age and then moved into enriched colony cages (ECC) containing two elevated perches of different heights (n = 6 ECC/treatment). Focal hens (3 per ECC) were fitted with tri-axial accelerometers to record acceleration events at 21, 35, and 49 weeks of age. Video recordings from each age were used to identify behaviors associated with acceleration events as well as the proportion of hens utilizing perches. CON hens experienced more acceleration events (p = 0.008) and more collisions (p = 0.04) than AVI hens during the day at 21 and 35 weeks of age. The total proportion of hens perching at night was similar between treatments across most time points, but fewer CON hens used the high perch compared to AVI hens throughout the study (p = < 0.001). Rearing in aviaries influences hen behavior out to peak lay for collisions and out to mid-lay for perch height preference in ECC. View Full-Text
Keywords: rearing; aviary; cage; pullet; laying hen; accelerometer; collision; perch; behavior rearing; aviary; cage; pullet; laying hen; accelerometer; collision; perch; behavior
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pullin, A.N.; Temple, S.M.; Bennett, D.C.; Rufener, C.B.; Blatchford, R.A.; Makagon, M.M. Pullet Rearing Affects Collisions and Perch Use in Enriched Colony Cage Layer Housing. Animals 2020, 10, 1269. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081269

AMA Style

Pullin AN, Temple SM, Bennett DC, Rufener CB, Blatchford RA, Makagon MM. Pullet Rearing Affects Collisions and Perch Use in Enriched Colony Cage Layer Housing. Animals. 2020; 10(8):1269. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081269

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pullin, Allison N., S. M. Temple, Darin C. Bennett, Christina B. Rufener, Richard A. Blatchford, and Maja M. Makagon 2020. "Pullet Rearing Affects Collisions and Perch Use in Enriched Colony Cage Layer Housing" Animals 10, no. 8: 1269. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081269

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