Relationships between range access as monitored by radio frequency identification technology, fearfulness, and plumage damage in free-range laying hens
KM Hartcher, KA Hickey, PH Hemsworth, GM Cronin, SJ Wilkinson, M Singh
Animal | CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS | Published : 2016
Severe feather-pecking (SFP), a particularly injurious behaviour in laying hens (Gallus gallus domesticus), is thought to be negatively correlated with range use in free-range systems. In turn, range use is thought to be inversely associated with fearfulness, where fearful birds may be less likely to venture outside. However, very few experiments have investigated the proposed association between range use and fearfulness. This experiment investigated associations between range use (time spent outside), fearfulness, plumage damage, and BW. Two pens of 50 ISA Brown laying hens (n=100) were fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) transponders (contained within silicone leg rings) at ..View full abstract
The authors gratefully acknowledge Mr Tugrul Durali (University of Sydney), who originally acquired the RFID technology for his own PhD trials, for his generous help and advice and without whom this study would not have been possible. The authors also thank Associate Professor Peter Thomson (University of Sydney) for his invaluable assistance with data consolidation methods, Dr Evelyn Hall (University of Sydney) for her advice and reassurance on methods of data analyses, and Ms Mary Tran and Mr Dean Powell for their generous assistance with practical work. This research was conducted within the Poultry CRC, established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program, with research funding provided by the Australian Egg Corporation Limited.