Humeral quality and adrenal responsiveness in laying hens reared in standard and furnished cages
In order to find out whether furnished cages contribute to improving the welfare of laying hens, humerus quality and adrenal responsiveness were evaluated in laying hens reared in standard (S) and furnished cages (F). Four cage models were used: S5, a standard cage model with 5 hens per cage; S6, a standard cage model with 6 hens per cage; F7, a furnished cage model with 7 hens per cage (with a nest, dust-bathing box, two perches, and claw-shortening) and F15, a furnished cage model with 15 hens per cage (with a nest, dust-bathing box, two perches, and claw-shortening). At 72 weeks of age, maximal adrenal responsiveness was evaluated by measuring the changes in blood corticosterone level induced by the i.m. injection of 10 μg per hen of 1-24 ACTH (n = 15 hens per cage model). Hens (n = 15 to 23 hens per cage model) were slaughtered and the left and right humeri were used for measurement of weight, biomechanical characteristics in a flexion test, dry matter and
ash percentage. Basal corticosterone levels did not differ significantly while the injection of ACTH produced a significant rise in corticosterone levels (P < 0.001) of similar amplitude for all cage models. Humeri weights, biomechanical characteristics (elastic strain, bioyield point, stiffness and breaking strength), dry weight and percentage of dry matter were not significantly different between cage models. The humeri ash percentage was significantly (P = 0.03) lower in birds from the S6 cage model (57.4%) than in birds from other cage models (S5: 59.0%; F7: 58.9%; F15: 59.7%). Adrenal responsiveness and major humeral characteristics were not significantly improved in furnished compared to standard cages in our experimental conditions.
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18 August 2010
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