Effects of Furnished Cage Type on Behavior and Welfare of Laying Hens

  • Li, Xiang (College of Animal Science and Technology, Northeast Agricultural University) ;
  • Chen, Donghua (College of Animal Science and Technology, Northeast Agricultural University) ;
  • Li, Jianhong (College of Life Science, Northeast Agricultural University) ;
  • Bao, Jun (College of Animal Science and Technology, Northeast Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2015.07.07
  • Accepted : 2015.09.11
  • Published : 2016.06.01


This study was conducted to compare the effects of layout of furniture (a perch, nest, and sandbox) in cages on behavior and welfare of hens. Two hundred and sixteen Hyline Brown laying hens were divided into five groups (treatments) with four replicates per group: small furnished cages (SFC), medium furnished cages type I (MFC-I), medium furnished cages type II (MFC-II), and medium furnished cages type III (MFC-III) and conventional cages (CC). The experiment started at 18 week of age and finished at 52 week of age. Hens' behaviors were filmed during the following periods: 8:00 to 10:00; 13:00 to 14:00; 16:00 to 17:00 on three separate days and two hens from each cage were measured for welfare parameters at 50 wk of age. The results showed that feeding and laying of all hens showed no effect by cage type (p>0.05), and the hens in the furnished cages had significantly lower standing and higher walking than CC hens (p<0.05). The birds in MFC-III had significant higher preening, scratching and feather-pecking behavior than in the other cages (p<0.05). No difference in nesting behavior was found in the hens between the furnished cages (p>0.05). The hens in MFC-I, -II, and -III showed a significant higher socializing behavior than SFC and CC (p<0.05). The lowest perching was for the hens in SFC and the highest perching found for the hens in MFC-III. Overall, the hens in CC showed poorer welfare conditions than the furnished cages, in which the feather condition score, gait score and tonic immobility duration of the hens in CC was significantly higher than SFC, MFC-I, MFC-II, and MFC-III (p<0.05). In conclusion, the furnished cage design affected both behavior and welfare states of hens. Overall, MFC-III cage design was better than SFC, MFC-I, and MFC-II cage designs.


Supported by : Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)


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