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Work in Alternative and Enriched Cage Systems for Laying Hens and Self-Reported Health

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

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152188937.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152188937)
Authors:   Sven A Nimmermark
Keywords:   Laying hens, poultry houses, air quality, work environment, self reported health.

Abstract. Due to animal welfare regulations traditional battery cage systems are no longer allowed in Sweden. Thus, alternative and enriched cage systems are now used by the farmers. During wintertime dust and ammonia concentrations can be high in such systems. In order to study the work environment a questionnaire was sent to 1000 farmers of which 200 had poultry farms and 800 housed pigs and cattle. The response rate for poultry farmers was 70%, and the overall response rate was 75%. Analyses were made by χ2 -analysis and multiple logistic regressions. Annoyance related to dust in the barns was considerably higher for persons working with poultry than for those working with other animal species; 23.9% were much annoyed, and 5.8% were very much annoyed with the dust. The prevalence of self reported eye irritations was significantly higher (p≤ 0,01) for those working with laying hens compared to those working with pigs or cattle. Also breathlessness and breathing difficulties seemed to be related to work with laying hens. A likely cause for this is high dust concentrations in combination with high ammonia concentrations. Correlation between reported symptoms and some factors in the barns (wet litter, use of multi level system, use of furnished cages, meal feed, and use of straw) were studied in multiple logistic regressions. The presence of wet litter indicated increased prevalence of eye irritation (odds ratio 21,37) and dry cough (odds ratio 14,06). Use of multi level systems was connected to a higher prevalence of nose irritations (p≤ 0,05).

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