Perch Arrangements in Small-Group Furnished Cages for Laying Hens
In 2 trials, including 2,768 birds in total, 3 different perch arrangements were evaluated in furnished 8-hen cages for laying hens. The hybrids used were Lohmann Selected Leghorn and Lohmann Brown in trial 1 and Hy-Line White and Hy-Line Brown in trial 2. The furnished cages were identical in all other respects than the arrangement of perches. A perch was either fitted across the cage, providing 12 cm of perch per hen, or 2 perches were installed in a cross, implying 15 cm per hen. Although the perches arranged in a cross provided more perch per hen than the single perch fitted across the cage, perch use at night by the birds was similar or lower as compared with the single perch. Hence, the way perches are arranged in the cage may be as important as perch length itself to achieve a high use at night. Perch arrangement did not affect production, mortality, or egg quality. Compared with a conventional battery cage, also included in the trials, hygiene was inferior in the furnished cages, but there was no difference in proportions of dirty eggs. Differences in proportions of cracked eggs were found between furnished and conventional cages in 1 of the trials. However, on the whole, production, mortality, and egg quality were at similar levels in all cage models. Genotype differences were found in production traits, egg quality, hygiene, and in the use of perches and nests.
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23 August 2010
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