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Animals 2015, 5(4), 1192-1206;

Early Onset of Laying and Bumblefoot Favor Keel Bone Fractures

Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits, Division of Animal Welfare, University of Bern, Burgerweg 22, Zollikofen CH-3052, Switzerland
Center for Proper Housing: Poultry and Rabbits, Federal Veterinary Office, Burgerweg 22, Zollikofen CH-3052, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christine Nicol and Bas Rodenburg
Received: 12 October 2015 / Revised: 17 November 2015 / Accepted: 18 November 2015 / Published: 27 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Poultry Welfare)
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Numerous studies have demonstrated influences of hybrid, feed, and housing on prevalence of keel bone fractures, but influences of behavior and production on an individual level are less known. In this longitudinal study, 80 white and brown laying hens were regularly checked for keel bone deviations and fractures while egg production was individually monitored using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) from production until depopulation at 65 weeks of age. These focal birds were kept in eight pens with 20 hens per pen in total. About 62% of the hens had broken keel bones at depopulation. The occurrence of new fractures was temporally linked to egg laying: more new fractures occurred during the time when laying rates were highest. Hens with fractured keel bones at depopulation had laid their first egg earlier than hens with intact keel bones. However, the total number of eggs was neither correlated with the onset of egg laying nor with keel bone fractures. All birds with bumblefoot on both feet had a fracture at depopulation. Hens stayed in the nest for a longer time during egg laying during the ten days after the fracture than during the ten days before the fracture. In conclusion, a relationship between laying rates and keel bone fractures seems likely. View Full-Text
Keywords: laying hen; keel bone fracture; laying rate; behavior; welfare laying hen; keel bone fracture; laying rate; behavior; welfare

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Gebhardt-Henrich, S.G.; Fröhlich, E.K.F. Early Onset of Laying and Bumblefoot Favor Keel Bone Fractures. Animals 2015, 5, 1192-1206.

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