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Environment Enrichment Devices for Caged Laying Hens

Two experiments were conducted to determine the efficacy and possible economic benefits of using environmental enrichment devices (EED) to alter the behavior of two White Leghorn strains in laying cages. The first experiement compared using EEDs with beak-trimmed (BT) and non-beak-trimmed (non-BT) birds; the second experiement compared three different cage densities with and without EEDs. The devices failed to show significant effects within experiements, but when the two experiements were combined, eliminating then non-BT and seven birds per cage treatments, a significant (P=.013) improvement in economic returns was observed. BT resulted in depressed performance in the early stages of production, but subsequent economic results favored the BT treatment. Egg production in the BT birds improved, and they displayed 5.2% lower feed consumption over the entire experiment. Overall profitability of the two treatments was equal, but the BT birds had a $0.13/bird higher flock index than the controls during the last 12 wk of the experiment. Most measures of performance except egg weight and feed consumption were adversely affected by increasing the number of birds per cage. Economic returns favored five and six birds per cage over seven birds per cage.

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17 August 2010


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