Identification of key nest site stimuli for Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)
ABSTRACT For both egg production and laboratory research, Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) are typically housed in battery cages without nest boxes. In such cages the quail hens show symptoms of pre-laying restlessness. The inability to perform normal pre-laying behaviour is regarded as one of the most important problems for the welfare of caged laying hens. The present study aimed at identifying key nest site stimuli for quails, to enable nest boxes to be designed for alternative housing systems. Groups of hens were kept in pens containing litter, nest boxes and dustbathing boxes. The type of nest box was varied between pens, and the incidence of eggs laid outside the nest boxes (floor-eggs) was recorded over periods of 15 days. In experiment 1 (8 groups of 30 hens), both the nature of the top of the nest boxes (closed or with slits) and the type of substrate in the nest boxes (artificial turf or hay) had a significant effect on the percentage of floor-eggs. Nest boxes with a top with slits and filled with hay were best accepted for laying. Nest boxes situated in the corners of the pens were significantly selected more often for egg laying than more central nests. In experiment 2 (8 groups of 14 hens), neither the nature of the sides of the nest boxes (closed or with slits) nor the colour of the nest boxes (green or brown) had a significant effect on the incidence of floor-eggs. In experiment 3 (16 groups of 14 hens with 2 or 3 cocks), the percentage of floor-eggs was significantly lower in pens with high (170 lux) than with low (15 lux) light intensity. There was also a tendency for nest boxes filled with chaff to be better accepted than nest boxes filled with hay. In experiments 2 and 3, in pens with floors half litter and half of perforated plastic more floor-eggs were found on the litter. Few eggs were laid in the dustbathing boxes in any experiment. This study shows that Japanese quail lay up to 90% of eggs in nest boxes provided these are properly designed. It should therefore be feasible to develop housing systems with nests for Japanese quail which may replace conventional battery cages.
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ABSTRACT: Under natural conditions, the feral hen (Gallus gallus domesticus) will choose a nest location away from the flock, whereas under commercial conditions, the domestic hen will often choose the same nest as other hens have used or are still using. Simultaneous nest sharing causes several welfare problems to laying hens, and egg production may also be negatively affected. Understanding what causes this difference in nest location selection may provide solutions to the problems associated with simultaneous nest sharing. The aims were to investigate whether a commercial strain of laying hens normally housed in intensive production systems share nests under semi-natural conditions and to describe the behaviour if this behaviour occurred. Twenty 15 weeks old hens were released into an 840 m2 enclosure with multiple options for natural and semi-natural nest sites. Over a 63-day period records were made daily of each nest with regard to number of eggs, position, and materials used. On five mornings nesting behaviour was observed. Nest sharing occurred on all but the first 5 days of egg-laying. The majority of hens (n = 14) chose to visit an occupied nest at least once, but no hens exclusively used occupied nests. Visits in shared nests lasted longer than visits in undisturbed nests (13 min 50 s (±4 min and 57 s) vs 30 min 44 s (±4 min and 55 s); P < 0.001). Fifteen nests were used. All shared nests (n = 5) were placed up against the borders, whereas the majority of non-shared nests (n = 7 out of 10) were placed more than 1 m away from the borders (P = 0.002). Some results indicate that nest sharing was caused by environmental restrictions.Applied Animal Behaviour Science 01/2012; 136(1):44–49. DOI:10.1016/j.applanim.2011.11.006 · 1.63 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Using laying hens, we investigated whether position of a nest box, both within the pen and relative to other nest boxes, influenced the preference for a nest box, and how a sudden and marked change to the preferred box influenced the use of nest boxes by the hens. Groups (n = 12) of 15 Isa Warren hens were housed in pens, each with five identical nest boxes in different positions: Two single (in a corner or not) and a triplet of nest boxes (one of which in a corner). The use of nest boxes was determined by the number of eggs laid daily in each box. Three experiments, each lasting 10 days, were carried out. First, the undisturbed use of each of the nest box types was investigated, and a strong preference (P < 0.001) was found for single nest boxes in a corner, with 62% of the nest box eggs laid there. Second, each of the hen groups was moved to another pen allocated at random, and where the configuration of nest box types differed from that of their original pen. An effect of nest box type was found (P < 0.001), with 41% of all eggs laid in the single nest box in a corner, and 26% of eggs laid in the corner triplet nest box. Third, the attractiveness of the preferred nest box within each pen was reduced by removing the Astroturf mat from the nest box floor, exposing the wire netting below. This resulted in a change of nest box use (P < 0.001) from the single, corner nest box (67%; n = 6) to the corner triplet nest box (37%) and the single nest box not in a corner (35%), and from the corner triplet nest box (48%; n = 5) to the remaining triplet nest boxes (40% and 22%, respectively). The initial preference for a single nest box in a corner was probably due to a combination of isolation and view of the surroundings provided by this type of nest box. The manipulations in experiments II and III revealed that some hens were location conservative, i.e. continued laying in a corner location (or as close to that as possible), whereas others were isolation conservative, i.e. continued laying in the most isolated nest box despite it being positioned in a different area of the pen.Applied Animal Behaviour Science 01/2013; 148:185-191. · 1.63 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In this study, the effect of nest box curtain color on the complex behavior of nest box choice of brown and white layer hens bred in a free-range system, an alternative breeding system to battery cages, was analyzed. Yellow, blue, red, and green curtains were placed randomly in the entrance of the nest boxes, and the color of the nest box curtain was observed to affect the egg-laying choices of the hens (P<0.01), while the curtain color x genotype interaction was determined to bear no significance. According to the results, the nest box choices of white layer hens were 36.53%, 17.54%, 15.42%, and 23.64% for red, blue, green, and yellow, respectively; these percentages were 35.01%, 17.52%, 17.66%, and 23.43% for the brown layer hens in the respective order of the colors. On the other hand, the percentage of eggs laid on the ground was determined to be significantly lower in both white and brown layer hens, compared to the control group (P<0.01).07/2014; 4(6):258-264. DOI:10.15580/GJAS.2014.6.063014284)#sthash.igmKd3R5.dpuf