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Influence of the Environment on Behavior Patterns of Laying Hens Kept in Cages

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Livestock Environment VIII, 31 August – 4 September 2008, Iguassu Falls, Brazil  701P0408.(doi:10.13031/2013.25522)
Authors:   Guilherme Vitorasso, Danilo Florentino Pereira, Marcelo Marques de Magalhães, Douglas D’Alessandro Salgado, Bruno César Brito Miyamoto
Keywords:   Animal behavior, Animal welfare, Aviary

The aim of this paper is to verify the correlation between environmental indicators and behaviors expressed by laying hens kept in cages. The birds react to a severe environment through their behaviors, and the behaviors can be monitored to identify the birds' welfare conditions. The behaviors birds display are the result of stress caused by the combination of environmental temperature, relative humidity, radiant heat, and air speed (environmental temperature being the most important). In order to check the influence of the environment, an experiment was carried out on a commercial poultry farm, located in the city of Bastos. The study was initiated in March 2007, during four non-consecutive weeks. The birds' behaviors were recorded using video, by cameras installed in the cages. The birds behaviors were identified and noted for the frequency of occurrence for each bird, and the average duration of each behavior (in seconds), using video samples of 15 minutes recorded from 1 PM to 4 PM. The environmental variables collected were: air temperature, concentration of ammonia, relative air humidity, velocity of the air, noise, roof temperature, and light intensity. The observed behaviors were: opening wings, stretching, threatening, ruffling feathers, drinking water, aggressive pecking, eating, running, lying down, stretching head out of the cage, preening, mounting and prostrating. Principal Components Analysis was used to determine associations between the behavior variables and environmental variables described above. In this experiment, there were no significant correlations between behavioral variables and environmental variables.

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