The objectives of the study are: a) to investigate whether encouraging greater and earlier locomotion among vertical tiers during rearing by installing ramps can lead to specific change in the short term leading to long term improvements in the laying period; b) to investigate the benefit of overall structural similarities between rearing and laying environments in how hens adapt to the latter in the period immediately following population.
Results from this study are expected to provide industry stakeholders and industrial manufacturers with data-driven, objective solutions for improving structural design of rearing and laying aviaries. Results are also expected to reduce stress during transfer between rearing and laying environments to facilitate adaptation to the new environment and as a consequence, improve general quality of life for laying hens in aviaries. The information gathered from this study will serve to inform the US egg industry about the viability of aviary systems as replacements to conventional battery cages and how that viability can be improved in terms of animal welfare and production.
Scientists working on this project include: Dr. Janice Siegford, associate professor in department of animal science at Michigan State University; Dr. Michael J. Toscano, division of animal wefare at VPH Institute (Switzerland); and Dr. Ariane Stratmann, division of animal welfare at VPH Institute (Switzerland).