1/11/2021 0 Comments
Laying hen keel bones are sensitive to deviations and fractures, which can commonly occur in commercial laying hen flocks. The cause of these deviations and fractures are not very clear, but are thought to come from perch design (deviations) and from collisions and falls for free-roaming hens (fractures). Laying hen genetics contribute to the issue, because of selection for high egg production.
Researchers in Scandinavia aimed to get to the root of the issue, and studied keel bone damage in the laying hen ancestor: the jungle fowl.
Based on autopsies on 29 red jungle hens and roosters, they detected no fractures in the roosters, and 1 single hen with a keel bone fracture. In addition, 1 rooster had a very slight deviation in his keel and 10 hens showed slightly deviated keels. These numbers are quite different from commercial laying hen strains, with prevalences of fractures ranging between 30-97% and deviations ranging from 6–59% in commercial flocks.
The researchers concluded that more work is needed to get to the bottom of this welfare issue.
Read the full paper in Animals here: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/9/1655
Prevalence of Keel Bone Damage in Red Jungle Fowls (Gallus gallus)—A Pilot Study
by Käthe Kittelsen, Per Jensen, Jens Christensen, Ingrid Toftaker, Randi Oppermann Moe, and Guro Vasdal
Ingrid de Jong and Mona Giersberg have published recent research findings from experiments conducted in The Netherlands on the effects of conventional versus on-farm hatching on the behavior, welfare, and performance of broiler chickens.
The experiment was carried out at an experimental research farm in Belgium during 3 successive production cycles on a total of 27,780 Ross 308 broilers. Conventional broiler chicks were hatched at a commercial hatchery and transported to the experimental farm on day 0 to 3 post-hatch. On-farm hatched chick eggs were moved on embryonic day 18 from hatchery incubators to the on-farm hatchers (manufactured by X-treck) within the grow out house.
Dr. de Jong published the welfare, health, and performance data in Poultry Science.
Major findings indicated that, compared to conventionally hatched broilers, on-farm hatched broilers had:
Dr. Giersberg published the fear and behavior data in Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
Major findings indicated that, compared to conventionally hatched broilers, on-farm hatched broilers:
These results indicate that more research is needed to determine the benefits and challenges of on-farm hatching on bird behavior and welfare before best management practices can be provided to commercial broiler farmers.
Links to the full papers are below:
Effects of on-farm and traditional hatching on welfare, health, and performance of broiler chickens. (Poultry Science open access)
Comparative assessment of general behaviour and fear-related responses in hatchery-hatched and on-farm hatched broiler chickens. (Applied Animal Behaviour Science open access)
Tessa Grebey and colleagues researched dustbathing behavior in a range of commercial laying hen breeds, including Hy-Line Brown, Bovan Brown, DeKalb White, and Hy-Line birds.
They found that strains respond to social situations differently.
These findings are important considerations for egg producers, and support other work that show that not all breeds or strains of laying hens are the same. When designing housing, and when choosing birds, people need to consider strain differences.
Read the full paper here
Dust bathing in laying hens: strain, proximity to, and number of conspecifics matter - Poultry Science