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Nesting Behavior and Egg Production Pattern of Laying Hens in Enriched Colony Housing

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

Citation:  2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting  162456546.(doi:10.13031/aim.20162456546)
Authors:   Jofran Oliveira, Hongwei Xin, Yang Zhao, Lihua Li, Kai Liu, Kaesey Glaess
Keywords:   animal welfare, poultry production, RFID.

Abstract. Alternative housing systems for laying hens are increasingly adopted by the US egg industry. However, information still lacks with regards to behavioral and production responses of the hens to resources allocation in such alternative housing systems. The objective of this study was to characterize the nesting behavior and the location of the eggs laid in an enriched colony housing (ECH) system. The experiment was conducted in laboratory scale, involving an ECH commercial module with the capacity of 60 hens per colony. The nesting behavior was evaluated using UHF RFID that consists of 4 antennas located on both sides of the nest box, one reader, and 60 individual transponders (one per bird). The following behaviors were quantified: Time spent in the nest box, maximum occupancy, oviposition time and place, number of visits, and number of visits per eggs laid in the nest box. Information from this study will provide insight into the value of nest box provision and design criteria. The monitoring system also allows for evaluation of nest box size effect on egg-laying behavior of the hens.

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