Welfare of organic laying hens kept at different indoor stocking densities in a multi-tier aviary system. I: egg laying, and use of veranda and outdoor area

Animal : an International Journal of Animal Bioscience
S Steenfeldt, B L Nielsen


Multi-tier aviary systems are becoming more common in organic egg production. The area on the tiers can be included in the net area available to the hens (also referred to as usable area) when calculating maximum indoor stocking densities in organic systems within the EU. In this article, results on egg production, laying behaviour and use of veranda and outdoor area are reported for organic laying hens housed in a multi-tier system with permanent access to a veranda and kept at stocking densities (D) of 6, 9 and 12 hens/m2 available floor area, with concomitant increases in the number of hens per trough, drinker, perch and nest space. In a fourth treatment, access to the top tier was blocked reducing vertical, trough and perch access at the lowest stocking density (treatment D6x). In all other aspects than stocking density, the experiment followed the EU regulations on the keeping of organic laying hens. Laying percentage was significantly lower (P<0.05) in D12 compared with the other stocking densities (90.6% v. 94.3% (± 0.7)), most likely due to the concomitant reduction in nest space and drinker availability per hen. No systematic effects of density were found on other laying variables (egg weight, eggs laid outside nests, ...Continue Reading


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Related Concepts

Animal Husbandry
Animal Cruelty
Housing, Animal
Organic Farming
Egg Food Product
European Union

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