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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 8 October 2001 Issue

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Poultry Management and Behavior:
The Effect of Long-term Housing

chickens.jpg (9553 bytes)58 The effect of long-term housing in an aviary and battery cages on the physical condition of laying hens: body weight, feather condition, claw length, foot lesions, and tibia strength.

Abstract: The physical condition of laying hens housed for 3 yr in either traditional battery cages or an aviary was compared.  Aviary hens were significantly lighter than those in cages (2,021 vs 2,241 g; P = .0001), despite having consumed slightly more feed (121 vs 116 g per bird per d, P = .16).  Caged hens had poorer feather cover (P = .0001); 39% of caged birds had denuded areas greater than 5 cm2, whereas 68% of aviary hens had complete plumage.  The length of both center front and rear claws was significantly greater in caged hens (36.3 vs 30.3 mm, P =.001 and 19.2 vs 16.1 mm, P =.012, respectively). battery2.jpg (18556 bytes) The total number of foot lesions did not differ with housing system; however, caged hens had significantly more toe injuries (P < .001), and aviary birds had more injuries on the soles of their feet (P =.005).   All aviary birds with foot lesions had only a single lesion, whereas one- sixth of caged hens with lesions had more than one.  No difference in tibial breaking strength was found due to housing system.  Overall, the results suggest that aviary systems can offer some distinct advantages over traditional battery cages with regard to the physical condition of laying hens, given a high level of management.

(It should be common sense that chickens raised in a near natural setting (above-left) would be in better physical and mental condition than those raised in cages (above-right).)

Reference:

58 NAL Call. No.: 47.8 Am33P The effect of long-term housing in an aviary and battery cages on the physical condition of laying hens: body weight, feather condition, claw length, foot lesions, and tibia strength. Taylor, A.A.; Hurnik, J.F. Champaign, IL : Poultry Science Association, 1921-; 1994 Feb. Poultry science v. 73 (2): p. 268-273; 1994 Feb. Includes references.

SOURCE: http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/oldbib/qb9505.htm

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