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Open AccessArticle

Case Study of an Automatic Enrichment Device for Laying Hens on a Free-Range Laying Hen Farm

Institute for Animal Hygiene, Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Behavior, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173 Hannover, Germany
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Agriculture 2019, 9(5), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9050091
Received: 14 March 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 25 April 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Farm Animal Welfare)
Access to adequate foraging material can reduce the occurrence of feather pecking and cannibalism in laying hens. Technical devices may help farmers provide enrichment material more effectively. However, research in this field is rare. On a commercial free-range farm with 15,000 laying hens (Lohmann Tradition), an enrichment device was evaluated from the 30th to the 58th week of age (LW). It ran at five time points (TP) in the afternoon and offered five grams of dried maize silage per hen per day. The numbers of hens residing in defined scratching areas (ScA) either beneath the device (ScA 1 and 3) or in a similar area without the device (ScA 2) were determined. Significantly more hens were found in ScA 1 and ScA 3 when the device was running. On average, only 6.96 (±7.00) hens stayed in ScA 2, whereas 31.45 (±5.38) and 33.83 (±6.16) hens stayed in ScA 1 and ScA 3, respectively. The hen numbers for ScA 1 and ScA 3 did not differ significantly, nor did the TPs have an influence on number of hens within ScA 1 and ScA 3. The number of hens beneath the device can serve as a potential indicator of the device’s usage. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; cannibalism; feather pecking; foraging; intact beak; technical devices; maize silage animal welfare; cannibalism; feather pecking; foraging; intact beak; technical devices; maize silage
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Schmidt, M.; Stracke, J.; Kulke, K.; Kemper, N.; Spindler, B. Case Study of an Automatic Enrichment Device for Laying Hens on a Free-Range Laying Hen Farm. Agriculture 2019, 9, 91.

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