Egg Industry Center

The impact of open access to litter on hen behavior and welfare was studied to better understand its influence on overall bird wellbeing when in a commercial aviary housing system. This study observed two flocks of Lohmann White laying hens specifically regarding dust bathing and piling behaviors in an aviary system that had the ability to confine birds for part of the day. Hens were observed from weeks 19 and 17 to weeks 77 and 78 respectively. Hens did not appear to have a preference of location within the open litter area, as the entire area was used. Peak dust bathing was found to occur in the afternoon and late morning. 174 incidents of piling were recorded with variations in size, duration and time of occurrence. While dust bathing is a natural behavior important to hen welfare, further research is needed to investigate the implications of piling as it could lead to welfare concerns.

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© 2018 Egg Industry Center. All rights reserved.