Journal article

Behaviour of free-range laying hens in distinct outdoor environments

H Larsen, G Cronin, CL Smith, P Hemsworth, J-L Rault

ANIMAL WELFARE | UNIV FEDERATION ANIMAL WELFARE | Published : 2017

Abstract

The outdoor range in free-range, egg-production systems contains features that aim to promote the performance of natural behaviours. It is unclear what features of the range laying hens prefer and how these influence hen behaviour. We hypothesised that hens would demonstrate a preference for features of the environment in which their ancestor evolved, such as relatively dense vegetation, within the outdoor range and that the behavioural time budget of hens will differ between distinct environments. Characteristics of the outdoor range in one free-range commercial egg farm were mapped and four distinct environments ('locations') were identified based on ground substrate and cover (Wattle Tree..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers

Grants

Funding Acknowledgements

This study was partly funded by a national competitive grant from Australian Egg Corporation Limited, and student sponsorship for Hannah Larsen was partly funded through the Poultry Cooperative Research Centre. We thank Rebecca Woodhouse for providing technical support.