Design of laying nests in furnished cages: influence of nesting material, nest box position and seclusion
1. Preferences for three nesting materials and nest box positions were investigated simultaneously in two trials using a furnished cage: one with 18 individual laying hens and one with 18 groups of 5 hens. Following a habituation period in pre-test cages, every hen or group of hens was tested for 2 d: once without and once with plastic flaps at the entrance of the nest boxes.
2. Hens preferred peat and artificial turf to coated wire mesh for egg laying.
3. One nest box position was clearly preferred to both other nest boxes. The hens’ choice of nest box position was influenced by the pre-test cage in which they had been habituated.
4. The presence of plastic flaps at the entrance of the nest boxes had no influence on the proportion of eggs laid on the different nesting materials or on the proportion of floor eggs.
5. Individual and group testing resulted in the same overall results despite the presence of a distinct group effect.
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18 August 2010
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