Space Needs of Laying Hens

1278 Words6 Pages
Space is defined as a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied. Laying hens that are housed in furnished cages are lacking such “space” which means they are missing out on freedoms. For example, freedom to forage, freedom to express behaviour, such as vigorous wing flapping, freedom to escape from harm, and freedom to find shelter from harm, these freedoms should be met in order for the laying hens to have a positive and productive life without suffering. Having a better quality housing system for laying hens would allow for that. There are advantages to furnished cages such as controlled environments, dust baths, nesting boxes and perching areas but they provide limited space. Hens have the opportunity to express their natural behavior and habits better when they are housed in a free run system, which maximizes their well-being.
Laying hens can be severely affected by extremes of cold and/or heat. Hens in the free run facility were housed in a comfortable temperature range of 19- 24°C, which lies well within the 18-24°C thermo neutral zone for chickens (Weaver 2002). Hens housed in the furnished cage facility, were subject to fluctuating temperatures that varied by eight degrees rising to a high of 28°C. Heat stress and lack of feed intake could become an issue for hens housed in furnished cages, especially those in the uppermost third tier. Laying hens housed the free run facility have the welfare advantage of being able spread their wings away from their body to increase airflow and cool their body temperature, which a lack of space in furnished cages may restrict.
Proper nutrition is a very important welfare issue. Aggressive behavior in birds may occur if there is not enough area for each ...

... middle of paper ...

... (eds.), Animal Welfare (Wallingford, U.K.: CABI Publishing, pp. 89-105).

Rodenburg, T.B., and Koene. 2004. Feather pecking and feather loss. In G.C. Perry, ed.
Welfare of the laying hen. Wallingford, UK. CABI Publishing.

Struelens, E. Tuyttens, F.A.M, Duchateau, L. et al. 2008. Perching behaviour and perch height preference of laying hens in furnished cages varying in height. British Poultry Science 49(4): 381

Weaver Jr, W.D. 2002. Poultry housing. In: Commercial chicken meat and egg production, 5th edition (Ed. Donald D. Bell and William D. Weaver Jr.). pp. 102-103.

Weeks, C.A. & Nicol, C.J. 2006. Preferences of laying hens. World’s Poultry Science Journal, 62: 296-307.

Welchsler B and Huber-Eicher B. 1998. The effect of foraging material and perch height on feather pecking and feather damage in laying hens. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 58:131- 41
Open Document