Article

Macroscopic and histopathological alterations of foot pads of laying hens kept in small group housing systems and furnished cages

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  • state office of geo-information and rural development; Baden-Wuerttemberg
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Abstract

1. Foot pad health was determined macroscopically and histologically in two trials with Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL, white layer strain) and Lohmann Brown (LB) laying hens kept in a small group housing system (40 and 60 hens) and two types of furnished cages (10 and 20 hens). 2. A total of 864 foot pads (648 LSL and 216 LB) were examined macroscopically and classified according to severity of pathological alterations; of these, 180 metatarsal pads and 180 toe pads were also examined histologically for hyperkeratosis, acanthosis, elongation of rete folds, development of secondary papillae, erosion, ulceration, cellular infiltration and bacterial colonisation of the epidermal surface. 3. As for the macroscopic examinations, pathological alterations of foot pads were found in 86.1% of the hens, while 57.4% of the birds examined showed mild hyperkeratosis. Macroscopically moderate hyperkeratosis and/or superficial lesions of the epithelium were detected in 21% of the laying hens examined. Severe hyperkeratosis and/or deep epithelial lesions and/or mild swelling of the foot pads were found in 5.9% of the hens, and very severe hyperkeratosis and/or deep and large epithelial lesions and/or moderate or high-grade swelling of foot pads were found in 1.9%. 4. The histopathological examinations showed that the macroscopically determined thickening of the epidermis was due not only to hyperkeratosis, but also often to acanthosis. In addition, perivascular infiltrations of lymphocytes were also detected. Furthermore, the degree of hyperkeratosis in metatarsal pads was shown to correlate with the other histopathological traits except for ulceration, and the degree of hyperkeratosis in toe pads was related to the development of secondary papillae and cellular infiltration with lymphocytes. 5. The results of the macroscopic and histological examinations showed that the use of perches and the grasping of wire floor may have resulted in a permanent increased mechanical compression load leading to proliferative hyperkeratosis.

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... Bumblefoot was scored from 0 to 3 with increasing severity: 0 (no lesion), 1 (slight lesion on footpad), 2 (easily detectible lesion covering footpad), or 3 (bumblefoot dorsally visible). Hyperkeratosis also was scored from 0 to 3 with increasing severity, as adapted from the methods of Weitzenbürger et al. (2006): 0 (no thickened epithelium), 1 (detectible thickened epithelium), 2 (moderately thickened epithelium on toes but not footpad), or 3 (thickened epithelium on both footpad and toes). Each assessment began with 2 experimenters, blinded to treatment, simultaneously scoring a sample of birds and arriving at a consensus. ...
... However, hyperkeratosis was, numerically, the worst in the CC. This is not surprising, given that compression loads from standing on wire floors are thought to contribute to this condition (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). Although the main effects of SA or cage size did not affect the prevalence of pododermatitis, there were greater levels observed in enriched cages compared to conventional cages. ...
... Although the main effects of SA or cage size did not affect the prevalence of pododermatitis, there were greater levels observed in enriched cages compared to conventional cages. This also has been documented by other researchers (e.g., Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). ...
Article
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There are few published data on the effects of housing laying hens at different densities in large furnished cages (FC; a.k.a. enriched colony cages). The objective of this study was to determine the effects of housing laying hens at 2 space allowances (SA) in 2 sizes of FC on measures of production and well-being. At 18 wk of age, 1,218 LSL-Lite hens were housed in cages furnished with a curtained nesting area, perches, and scratch mat, and stocked at either 520 cm2 (Low) or 748 cm2 (High) total floor space. This resulted in 4 group sizes: 40 vs. 28 birds in smaller FC (SFC) and 80 vs. 55 in larger FC (LFC). Data were collected from 20 to 72 wks of age. There was no effect of cage size (P = 0.21) or SA (P = 0.37) on hen day egg production, egg weight (PSize = 0.90; PSA = 0.73), or eggshell deformation (PSize = 0.14; PSA = 0.053), but feed disappearance was higher in SFC than LFC (P = 0.005). Mortality to 72 wk was not affected by cage size (P = 0.78) or SA (P = 0.55). BW (P = 0.006) and BW CV (P = 0.008) increased with age but were not affected by treatment. Feather cleanliness was poorer in FC with low SA vs. high (P < 0.0001) and small vs. large FC (P < 0.0001). Feather condition was poorer in low SA (P = 0.048) and the best in small cages with high SA (P = 0.006), but deteriorated in all treatments over time (P < 0.0001). Treatments did not affect the breaking strengths of femur, tibia, or humerus, proportions of birds suffering keel deformations, or foot health scores. Overall, the SA studied in the 2 cage sizes in this trial had few effects on production parameters. However, stocking birds at the lower space allowance resulted in some measures of poorer external condition in both sizes of FC, which indicates that the welfare of hens housed at the lower space allowance may be compromised according to some welfare assessment criteria.
... Keel-bone damage typically occurs in the form of fractures and deformations along the spine of the keel and at the caudal tip (Casey-Trott et al., 2015). Damage increases with age (Weitzenburger et al., 2006;Scholz et al., 2008;Kappeli et al., 2011b;Petrik et al., 2015;Stratmann et al., 2015a) across a variety of housing systems, with keel-bone fractures most prevalent in non-cage systems due to the increased opportunity for damage from high-impact crashes and falls (Rodenburg et al., 2008;Wilkins et al., 2011;Kappeli et al., 2011a). Outfitting aviary systems with ramps (Stratmann et al., 2015a), reducing perch obstruction, and adjusting perch placement (Moinard et al., 2005) have led to positive results in non-cage systems by reducing crashes and falls. ...
... Outfitting aviary systems with ramps (Stratmann et al., 2015a), reducing perch obstruction, and adjusting perch placement (Moinard et al., 2005) have led to positive results in non-cage systems by reducing crashes and falls. However, keel-bone damage also occurs in low-impact systems, such as furnished (Weitzenburger et al., 2006;Rodenberg et al., 2008;Scholz et al., 2008) and conventional cages (Hester et al., 2013;Petrik et al., 2015). The causes and prevalence within these low-impact systems are less understood. ...
... Several studies have reported an increase in keel-bone damage with increasing age (Weitzenburger et al., 2006;Scholz et al., 2008;Tarlton et al., 2013;Petrik et al., 2015), noting fracture rates either plateau or reduce after 45 wk (Stratmann et al., 2015a), which is in agreement with the results reported here. This pattern is likely attributable to several factors related to the skeletal growth and body composition. ...
Article
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High flock-level prevalence of keel-bone fractures and deviations in laying hens are commonly reported across various housing systems; however, few longitudinal studies exist, especially for furnished and conventional cage systems. Load-bearing exercise improves bone strength and mineral composition in laying hens and has the potential to reduce keel-bone damage, especially if exercise is allowed during critical periods of bone growth throughout the pullet rearing phase. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of keel-bone damage in laying hens housed in furnished and conventional cages, and assess whether opportunities for exercise during the pullet rearing phase influenced the prevalence of keel-bone damage throughout the laying period. Four flock replicates of 588 Lohmann Selected Leghorn-Lite pullets/flock were reared in either conventional cages (Conv) or an aviary rearing system (Avi) and placed into conventional cages (CC), 30-bird furnished cages (FC-S) or 60-bird furnished cages (FC-L) for adult housing. Keel-bone status was determined by palpation at 30, 50, and 70 wk of age. Age (P < 0.001) and rearing system (P < 0.001) had an effect on the presence of keel-bone fractures. The presence of fractures increased with age, and hens raised in the Avi system had a lower percentage of fractures (41.6% ± 2.8 SE) compared to hens reared in the Conv system (60.3% ± 2.9 SE). Adult housing system did not have an effect on the percentage of keel fractures (P = 0.223). Age had an effect on the presence of deviations (P < 0.001), with deviations increasing with age. Rearing system (P = 0.218) and adult housing system (P = 0.539) did not affect the presence of deviations. Keel fractures and deviations were strongly associated with each other at all ages: 30 wk: (P < 0.001); 50 wk: (P < 0.001); and 70 wk: (P < 0.001). Increased opportunities for exercise provided by an aviary rearing system reduced the prevalence of keel-bone fractures through the end-of-lay.
... The major foot pad disorders in laying hens are hyperkeratosis, dermatitis and bumble foot. Hyperkeratosis is proliferation of the corneus layer of the foot pad skin and is caused by prolonged pressure load on foot pads during standing, grabbing and perching on a wire floor (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006;Rönchen et al., 2008). Foot pad dermatitis is the term for infected lesioning of the epithelium of the metatarsal pads (Wang et al., 1998). ...
... This ailment is perceived to be particularly painful (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994). The prevalences of these foot pad disorders vary in non-cage systems and are associated with perch design, (wet) litter, and hybrid type (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1995;Wang et al., 1998;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006;Pickel et al., 2011). ...
... We hypothesized that laying hens housed in pens equipped with ramps would sustain fewer keel bone fractures and deviations. We expected ramps to increase foot pad hyperkeratosis due to mechanical compression on load on the foot pads (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006;Rönchen et al., 2008) and decrease the prevalence of dermatitis due to improved foot pad hygiene (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994. The direction of the genetic effect was harder to predict. ...
Article
Non-cage systems provide laying hens with considerable space allowance, perches and access to litter, thereby offering opportunities for natural species-specific behaviors. Conversely, these typical characteristics of non-cage systems also increase the risk of keel bone and foot pad disorders. The aim of this study was twofold: 1) to investigate if providing ramps between perches (housing factor) reduces keel bone and foot pad disorders and 2) to test for genetic predisposition by comparing 2 different layer hybrids. In a 2 × 2 design, 16 pens were equipped either with or without ramps between perches and nest boxes (8 pens/treatment), and housed with either 25 ISA Brown or Dekalb White birds per pen (in total 200 birds/hybrid). Keel bone injuries and foot health were repeatedly measured via palpation and visual assessment between 17 and 52 wk of age and daily egg production was recorded. The relationships between the dependent response variables (keel bone and footpad disorders, egg production) and independent factors (age, ramps, hybrid) were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models and corrected for repeated measures. Ramps reduced keel bone fractures (F1,950 = 45.80, P < 0.001), foot pad hyperkeratosis (F1,889 = 10.40, P = 0.001), foot pad dermatitis (F1,792 = 20.48, P < 0.001) and bumble foot (F1,395 = 8.52, P < 0.001) compared to pens without ramps. ISA Brown birds sustained more keel bone fractures (F1,950 = 33.26, P < 0.001), had more foot pad hyperkeratosis (F1,889 = 44.69, P < 0.001) and laid more floor eggs (F1,1883 = 438.80, P < 0.001), but had fewer keel bone deviations (F1,1473 = 6.73, P < 0.001), fewer cases of foot pad dermatitis (F1,792 = 19.84, P < 0.001) and no bumble foot as compared to Dekalb White birds. Age, housing and hybrid showed several interaction effects. Providing ramps proved to be very effective in both reducing keel bone and foot pad problems in non-cage systems. Keel bone and foot pad disorders are related to genetic predisposition. These results indicate that adaptation of the housing systems and hybrid selection may be effective measures in improving laying hen welfare.
... This finding is particularly surprising because contact area of keel bones in sitting hens is smaller compared with contact area of foot pads in standing hens. These findings might explain the high incidence of keel bone deformations of hens kept in housing systems equipped with perches and support the assumption of several authors that a nonphysiological long-term pressure load on the keel bone in perching hens may be responsible for keel bone deviations (Appleby et al., 1993;Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). In a histological analysis of Scholz et al. (2008), the authors found S-shaped deformities with absence of fracture callus material in keel bones of hens kept in housing systems with perches and assumed that these deformities might have been caused by extended pressure load during perching. ...
... Layer line affected both contact area and peak force, which was probably attributable to the differences in hen BW, total foot length, and size of toe pads between LSL and LB hens. Differences between layer lines in the prevalence of keel bone deformations and foot pad welfare problems have already been described and reveal a higher susceptibility of heavier layer lines compared with lighter hybrids (Wahlström et al., 2001;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). In addition, the conducted measurements on layers' foot sizes may give important information on the requirements of minimum perch dimensions. ...
Article
Full-text available
The provision of perches in housing systems for laying hens is meant to improve hens' welfare by allowing a more natural behavior repertoire. However, the use of perches is associated with welfare problems, such as keel bone deviations and foot pad lesions, that may possibly result from high mechanical pressure load during extended perching activities. The aim of this study was to analyze peak force and contact area of hens' keel bones and foot pads on solid test perches of square, round, and oval shape with 3 different diameters each (experiment 1) and on commercially used perches (round steel tube, 2 sizes of mushroom-shaped plastic, and flattened round plastic) together with 2 prototypes of soft, round polyurethane perches (experiment 2). Test perches were covered with a pressure sensor film and 36 laying hens (18 Lohmann Selected Leghorn, 18 Lohmann Brown) were consecutively placed on each perch in an experimental cage during nighttime. Peak force (N/cm(2)) and contact area (cm(2)) were measured while hens were sitting and standing on the different test perches. Pressure peaks on the keel bone were approximately 5 times higher compared with single foot pad. On square perches, keel bone peak force was lower (P < 0.05) and contact area was larger (P < 0.001) compared with round and oval perches. In addition, peak force on foot pads in standing hens was higher on square perches (P < 0.05) compared with oval perches. Perch size did not affect peak forces on keel bones in sitting hens and foot pads in standing hens (experiment 1). On prototype perches, peak force on the keel bone was lower and contact area was larger compared with all commercial perches tested (P < 0.001). Peak force on foot pads was lower on prototype perches compared with steel perches (P < 0.01; experiment 2). Perches with a soft surface may possibly reduce keel bone and foot pad welfare problems in perching laying hens.
... Hyperkeratosis (hypertrophy of the corneus layer of the skin) occurs on the toe-and foot-pads of caged hens (Duncan et al., 1992;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006) and is caused by increased compression load of the toe-or foot-pad on the wire floor of the cage as well as the perch (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). A lower incidence of toe-pad hyperkeratosis occurs in hens of furnished as compared with conventional cages (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1997). ...
... Hyperkeratosis (hypertrophy of the corneus layer of the skin) occurs on the toe-and foot-pads of caged hens (Duncan et al., 1992;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006) and is caused by increased compression load of the toe-or foot-pad on the wire floor of the cage as well as the perch (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). A lower incidence of toe-pad hyperkeratosis occurs in hens of furnished as compared with conventional cages (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1997). ...
Article
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Osteoporosis, a progressive decrease in mineralized structural bone, causes 20 to 35% of all mortalities in caged White Leghorn hens. Previous research has focused on manipulating the egg laying environment to improve skeletal health, with little research on the pullet. The objective of the current study was to determine the effect of perch access on pullet health, bone mineralization, muscle deposition, and stress in caged White Leghorns. From 0 to 17 wk of age, half of the birds were placed in cages with 2 round metal perches, while the other half did not have perches (controls). Bone mineralization and bone size traits were determined in the tibia, femur, sternum, humerus, ulna, radius, and phalange (III carpometacarpal) using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Muscle weights were obtained for the breast and left leg (drum and thigh). A sample of pullets from each cage was evaluated for foot health, BW, right adrenal weight, and packed cell volume. Most measurements were taken at 3, 6, and 12 wk of age. Access to perches did not affect breast muscle weight, percentage breast muscle, percentage leg muscle, bone mineral density, bone length, bone width, adrenal weight, packed cell volume, and hyperkeratosis of the foot-pad and toes. There were no differences in BW, bone mineral content, and leg muscle weight at 3 and 6 wk of age. However, at 12 wk of age, BW (P = 0.025), bone mineral content of the tibia, sternum, and humerus (P = 0.015), and the left leg muscle weight (P = 0.006) increased in pullets with access to perches as compared with controls. These results suggest that perch access has beneficial effects on pullet health by stimulating leg muscle deposition and increasing the mineral content of certain bones without causing a concomitant decrease in bone mineral density.
... Foot pad dermatitis is an inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue of the foot pad, leading to necrosis and ulcerations. If severe, this may ultimately may lead to a bulbous lesion and swelling called "bumble foot" (Wang et al., 1998;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006;Röngen et al., 2008). Bumble foot is considered to be painful and critically impairs the hen's welfare (Lay et al., 2011). ...
... Bumble foot is considered to be painful and critically impairs the hen's welfare (Lay et al., 2011). In general, the housing system (e.g., cage vs. non-cage), perching behavior, wet litter, scratching, perch and flooring material, and poor foot hygiene have been identified as causes of these foot health problems (Tauson andAbrahamsson, 1994, 1996;Wang et al., 1998;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006;Blokhuis et al., 2007;Röngen et al., 2008;Shimmura et al., 2010;Lay et al., 2011). Nevertheless, specific information on risk factors within aviary systems for these foot problems remains scarce. ...
Article
Full-text available
Aviary systems for laying hens offer space and opportunities to perform natural behaviors. However, hen welfare can be impaired due to increased risk for keel bone and foot pad disorders in those systems. This cross-sectional study (N = 47 flocks) aimed to assess prevalences of keel bone and foot pad disorders in laying hens housed in aviaries in Belgium to identify risk factors for these disorders and their relation to egg production. Information on housing characteristics and egg production were obtained through questionnaire-based interviews, farm records, and measurements in the henhouse. Keel bone (wounds, hematomas, fractures, deviations) and foot pad disorders (dermatitis, hyperkeratosis) were assessed in 50 randomly selected 60-week-old laying hens per flock. A linear model with stepwise selection procedure was used to investigate associations between risk factors, production parameters, and the keel bone and foot pad disorders. The flock mean prevalences were: hematomas 41.2%, wounds 17.6%, fractures 82.5%, deviations 58.9%, hyperkeratosis 42.0%, dermatitis 27.6%, and bumble foot 1.2%. Identified risk factors for keel bone disorders were aviary type (row vs. portal), tier flooring material (wire mesh vs. plastic slats), corridor width, nest box perch, and hybrid. Identified risk factors for foot pad disorders were aviary type (row vs. portal), free-range, and hybrid. Percentage of second-quality eggs was negatively associated with keel bone deviations (P = 0.029) at the flock level. Keel bone and foot pad disorders were alarmingly high in aviary housing. The identification of various risk factors suggests improvements to aviary systems may lead to better welfare of laying hens.
... Moreover, the introduction of simple objects such as foraging materials (e.g., hay bales, suet holders filled with peanut butter, seeds or cabbage, etc.) or string devices tied on perches have been effective in reducing feather pecking and cannibalism in laying hens (Daigle, Rodenburg, Bolhuis, Swanson, & Siegford, 2014;Dixon, Duncan, & Mason, 2010;Jones, 2002). Nevertheless, apart from behavioral problems, conventional battery cages may induce foot lesions in laying hens (e.g., footpad dermatitis, hyperkeratosis, and excessive claw growth) depending on wire flooring, density of birds, perch use, layer strain, and floor slope (Abrahamsson, Tauson, & Appleby, 1996;Appleby et al., 2002;Lay et al., 2011;Tauson, 1998;Valkonen, 2010;Weitzenbürger, Vits, Hamann, Hewicker-Trautwein, & Distl, 2006). ...
... T. Duncan, Appleby, & Hughes, 1992). The incidence of clinical bumblefoot in furnished cages and noncage systems is generally higher than in conventional cages because of inappropriate perch design, moisture resulting from improper perch material, failure of hygiene perches, and bad litter conditions (Abrahamsson et al., 1996;Tauson, 1998;Tauson & Abrahamsson, 1994;Valkonen, 2010;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). Notwithstanding, our thermal imaging data indicated that even in conventional cages, subclinical cases of bumblefoot can be further reduced with the provision of wood perches with an appropriate diameter (as evidenced by the significant MTD decrease in the PER system between phases or by the lower percentage of subclinical bumblefoot in the PER system at the end of Phase 2). ...
Article
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Housing layers in battery cages is a practice still used by many countries but it has been criticized because of its influence on behavioral repertoire of birds. We investigated whether simple and affordable enrichment devices alone impact behavior, foot condition and performance of laying hens housed in conventional cages. Hens were divided into plain cages (CON), cages with perches (PER), and cages with tassels and scratch-pads (ENR), and parameters were evaluated before and after enrichment placement. After perch placement inactivity, drinking and competition for space reduced 35.6%, 40.8% and 70.3%, respectively, whereas social interaction increased 19.3%. Both modifications decreased locomotion (75.0% and 42.4% for PER and ENR respectively) and abnormal behaviors (62.5% and 43.9.4% for PER and ENR respectively). None of the performance variables were affected by ENR or PER. Thermography was more efficient than visual inspection in detecting subclinical bumblefoot, and it confirmed that PER reduced subclinical and clinical cases. Our findings indicate that perches increased welfare-related behaviors and foot health of hens, supporting the use of these inexpensive and highly adaptable alternatives for the enrichment of battery cages.
... Poorly designed and maintained perches used in floor systems have been associated with bumblefoot because of accumulation of manure and litter on the surface of the perch, especially under wet litter conditions (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994b; Wang et al., 1998). Hyperkeratosis (hypertrophy of the corneus layer of the skin) occurs on the toe-and footpads of caged hens (Duncan et al., 1992; Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). A lower incidence of toepad hyperkeratosis occurs in furnished as compared with conventional cages (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1997). ...
... A lower incidence of toepad hyperkeratosis occurs in furnished as compared with conventional cages (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1997). Hyperkeratosis is caused by increased compression load of the toe-or footpad on the wire floor of the cage as well as the perch (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). The slope of the wired cage floor has also been implicated as causing a higher frequency of hyperkeratosis among caged hens as compared with noncage hens (Abrahamsson and Tauson, 1995 ). ...
Article
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Egg production systems have become subject to heightened levels of scrutiny. Multiple factors such as disease, skeletal and foot health, pest and parasite load, behavior, stress, affective states, nutrition, and genetics influence the level of welfare hens experience. Although the need to evaluate the influence of these factors on welfare is recognized, research is still in the early stages. We compared conventional cages, furnished cages, noncage systems, and outdoor systems. Specific attributes of each system are shown to affect welfare, and systems that have similar attributes are affected similarly. For instance, environments in which hens are exposed to litter and soil, such as noncage and outdoor systems, provide a greater opportunity for disease and parasites. The more complex the environment, the more difficult it is to clean, and the larger the group size, the more easily disease and parasites are able to spread. Environments such as conventional cages, which limit movement, can lead to osteoporosis, but environments that have increased complexity, such as noncage systems, expose hens to an increased incidence of bone fractures. More space allows for hens to perform a greater repertoire of behaviors, although some deleterious behaviors such as cannibalism and piling, which results in smothering, can occur in large groups. Less is understood about the stress that each system imposes on the hen, but it appears that each system has its unique challenges. Selective breeding for desired traits such as improved bone strength and decreased feather pecking and cannibalism may help to improve welfare. It appears that no single housing system is ideal from a hen welfare perspective. Although environmental complexity increases behavioral opportunities, it also introduces difficulties in terms of disease and pest control. In addition, environmental complexity can create opportunities for the hens to express behaviors that may be detrimental to their welfare. As a result, any attempt to evaluate the sustainability of a switch to an alternative housing system requires careful consideration of the merits and shortcomings of each housing system.
... Ulcerative pododermatitis is seen most often in hens housed in litterbased systems because of the presence of wet litter and feces. Hyperkeratosis is more common in birds held in cages; contributory factors include poor galvanizing of the cage floor and steep floor slope (Tauson, 1998;Weitzenbürger et al., 2006). ...
... Health condition. The hens remained in very good physical condition until the end of the study, with a relative deterioration in the comb, and which is in accordance with what was reported by other authors (Weitzenbuger et al., 2006). On the other hand, the good health condition of the legs in the chickens was evident, which is confirmed by what has been described by some authors in relation to the low levels of hyperkeratosis in chickens that do not have access to perches (Navarra y Pinson, 2010). ...
Article
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Laying hen welfare has been studied increasingly, some works concluded that the cage housing system provides poor welfare for laying hens. These have a great interest in Mexico because it is the world's leading egg consumer (22.8 kg per capita by year) and the fourth leading producer. The aim of this work was to evaluate laying hen welfare. Fifty 22-weeks-old Bovans White laying hens were housed in the floor, assigning 1200 cm2 per hen. Behavior, health, production parameters, and egg physical quality were evaluated at 22, 30 and 62 weeks. There was a difference (P<0.05) throughout the study in frequency and time of the following behaviors: dust bath, lie down, exploring and foraging. On the other hand, egg physical quality was according to the national regulations. At the end of the study, hens had good physical health and a wide behavior repertory.
... In the present study, DW hens were more likely to have footpad lesions at the end of the study period, while BB had a higher prevalence of hyperkeratosis. Weitzenbürger et al. (2006) found similar differences between strains, with Lohmann Brown hens having increased prevalence of hyperkeratosis while Lohmann Selected Leghorn were more likely to present with lesions. Heerkens et al. (2016) similarly observed more lesions in Dekalb White birds and more hyperkeratosis in ISA Brown hens. ...
Article
Outdoor range areas provide laying hens with improved opportunities to perform natural behaviors and increase the available space per bird, however, birds are also exposed to potentially stressful factors including weather and predators. Ability to cope with challenging environments varies between different strains and must be considered to ensure good welfare. The aim of this study was to determine how suitable two hybrids, the Dekalb White (DW) and the Bovans Brown (BB), are for organic production with special emphasis on ranging behavior. A total of 1200 hens were housed according to organic regulations across 12 flocks of 100 birds. Range and shelter use, effect of weather, vegetation cover, egg production and quality, and mortality were assessed in addition to a range of clinical welfare indicators. Initially a greater proportion of DW hens accessed the range. However, after approximately two months, a greater proportion of BB were using the range and venturing further from the house. DW hens were more likely to use the shelters than BB hens (P<0.001). Vegetation was also worn away to a greater extent in the BB ranges. Weather affected the proportion of hens that went outside, the distance ranged from the popholes, and shelter use. BB hens were found to have better plumage condition (P<0.001), fewer footpad lesions (P<0.001), fewer comb wounds (P<0.001), and lower mortality rates (P=0.013). Both hybrids experienced keel bone fractures, though DW hens had more at the cranial portion (P<0.001) and BB at the caudal portion (P<0.001). DW hens had an earlier onset of lay and higher egg production than BB hens (P<0.001), though BB hens laid heavier eggs (P<0.001) with thicker shells (P=0.001). Overall, BB hens seemed to perform superiorly or equivalently to the DW hens for all variables apart from egg production. These results demonstrate the importance of considering the strain of bird selected for organic production systems in order for the birds to reap the potential benefits that are offered by outdoor access.
... Whilst there have been previous studies on the health of hens feet, these have tended to focus on the epithelium or foot- pads (e.g. Weitzenburger et al., 2006); swollen toes as a welfare indicator does not appear to have been published previously for free-range layer hens. Whilst the cause of swollen toes clearly requires further investigation, its signifi- cant correlation with the FEC of two nematode genera in the present study indicates a possible link with nematode infection. ...
Article
1. Faecal samples from 19 commercial, 65 week old free-range egg laying flocks were examined to assess the prevalence and number of parasitic nematode eggs. Data were collected to characterise the housing, husbandry, behaviour and welfare of the flocks to examine possible relationships with the egg counts. 2. Eggs of at least one genus of nematode were present in the faeces of all 19 flocks. Heterakis eggs were detected in 17 (89%) flocks, Ascaridia in 16 (84%), Trichostrongylus in 9 (47%), and Syngamus in 6 (32%). Faecal egg counts (FEC) were greatest for Ascaridia and Heterakis. 3. For each nematode genus, there was no significant difference in FEC between organic (N = 9) and non-organic (N = 10) flocks, or between static (N = 8) and mobile (N = 11) flocks. 4. FEC were correlated with a range of housing, husbandry and management practices which varied between the nematode genus and included depth of the litter, percentage of hens using the range, and number of dead hens. Statistical analysis indicated relationships with FEC that included light intensity above the feeder, indoor and outdoor stocking density, fearfulness in the shed and on the range, distance to the nearest shelter, and swollen toes. 5. None of the FEC for any of the genera was correlated with weekly egg production or cumulative mortality. 6. Although nematode FEC were highly prevalent among the flocks, the overall lack of relation to other welfare and production measures suggests that these infections were not severe.
... In this study, 35% of the hens showed some extent of foot pad disorder, which was consistent with the results revealed by Heerkens et al. (2016) that the prevalence of dermatitis ranged from 36.5 to 38.5% in ISA Brown and Dekalb White hens at 29 to 49 WOA. Foot pad disorders are mostly caused by prolonged pressure load on the foot pads when perching, standing on wire floor, grabbing (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006), and can be particularly painful to hens (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994). ...
... In this study, 35% of the hens showed some extent of foot pad disorder, which was consistent with the results revealed by Heerkens et al. (2016) that the prevalence of dermatitis ranged from 36.5 to 38.5% in ISA Brown and Dekalb White hens at 29 to 49 WOA. Foot pad disorders are mostly caused by prolonged pressure load on the foot pads when perching, standing on wire floor, grabbing (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006), and can be particularly painful to hens (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994). ...
Article
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With different cage-free (CF) housing styles and management schemes, retailers have developed their own CF criteria. One highly debated aspect is if hens may be kept inside the system for part of the day-during the first few hours after lights-on. Research is lacking regarding the impacts of such a practice on hen welfare, incidence of eggs laid on the litter floor, litter condition, and air quality. This 14-mo field study was conducted to help assess such impacts. Hens (Dekalb White) in an aviary house (50,000-hen nominal capacity) were allowed to have full litter access (FLA) vs. part-time litter access (PLA) from 10:50 am to 9:00 pm, coupled with the absence or presence of experienced hens (1.5% of the population), hence a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. The measured variables included a) incidence of floor eggs, b) percentage of birds remaining on litter floor at night, c) mortality, d) body weight (BW) and BW uniformity, e) litter condition (depth, moisture content, texture, amount removed, and bacteria concentration), f) environmental conditions, and g) welfare conditions (10 variables). Compared to FLA, PLA had a significantly lower incidence of floor eggs (1.4 ± 0.1 vs. 12.6 ± 1.1 eggs per hen housed as of 76 weeks of age (WOA), i.e., approximately 89% reduction), less manure deposition on the floor (0.53 ± 0.02 vs. 1.05 ± 0.04 kg/100 hens/d, dry basis, i.e., approximately 50% reduction), and lower ammonia concentrations due to drier litter (averaging 22% lower). Inclusion of 1.5% experienced hens in the young flock did not show benefit of reducing the incidence of floor eggs (P = 0.48). The percentage of hens remaining on the floor at night was low (< 0.01%) in all cases from 24 WOA onward. No differences were detected between FLA and PLA in hen welfare conditions, mortality , BW, BW uniformity, bacteria concentration in the litter, air temperature, or relative humidity.
... In this study, 35% of the hens showed some extent of foot pad disorder, which was consistent with the results revealed by Heerkens et al. (2016) that the prevalence of dermatitis ranged from 36.5% to 38.5% in ISA Brown and Dekalb White hens at 29-49 WOA. Foot pad disorders are mostly caused by prolonged pressure load on the foot pads when perching, standing on wire floor, grabbing (Weitzenbürger et al., 2006), and can be particularly painful to hens (Tauson and Abrahamsson, 1994). ...
Thesis
Transitioning of egg production systems from conventional cage to alternative housing (e.g., enriched colony, aviary cage-free) is increasingly occurring in various parts of the world, especially in Europe and the United States, to meet animal welfare requirements or legislations. This dissertation had the central goal of providing scientific knowledge or discoveries related to behavior, welfare, production, and bioenergetics of laying hens in alternative housing systems. It covers five experiments that were conducted in controlled environment and commercial settings with the following specific objectives: 1) Develop and validate a UHF RFID system able to evaluate nesting and feeding behaviors of laying hens in an Enriched Colony Housing (ECH) (Chapter 2); 2) Evaluate the impact of feeder space on feeding behavior of individual hens in an ECH (Chapter 3); 3) Investigate nesting behavior and nesting patterns of individual hens in an ECH (Chapter 4); 4) Assess the impact of managing litter floor access and using experienced hens on floor eggs, air quality and welfare of hens in an aviary system (Chapter 5); and 5) Quantify building ventilation rate (VR) and laying-hen bioenergetics in a fully-open aviary house (Chapter 6). The research described in this dissertation contain the following discoveries: The UHF RFID system was successfully developed and validated. The system allows for assessing the impacts of housing design and/or management practices on behaviors of individual laying hens (Chapter 2). Laying hens (W-36 breed) in the ECH showed similar feeding behaviors when provided a feeder space of 12 or 9.5 cm/hen, and not all hens choose to feed simultaneously (Chapter 3). Hens spent approximately one hour in the nest box during a 16-hr daily light period. However, nesting time during the 6-hr laying period (37.5% of the light period) accounted for 56% of the daily total. Maximum occupancy of the nest box (29% of the hens) occurred within 4-hr after lights-on, when most (83%) of the eggs were laid. There exist considerable hen-to-hen variations in nesting behavior. The same is true for an individual hen from one day to the next, although specific patterns could be noted (Chapter 4). Full litter access (FLA) in the aviary housing system showed a number of shortcomings when compared with part-time litter access (PLA), including much higher incidence of floor eggs, higher ammonia concentration, more presence of caked litter, and greater amount of manure accumulation on the floor which necessitates more frequent removal from the barn. No difference was detected between FLA and PLA in hen welfare, mortality, BW, BW uniformity, or litter bacteria concentration. Inclusion of experienced hens (1.5%) in a young flock did not show benefit of inducing nest-laying behavior (Chapter 5). Mean ventilation rate (VR) of a fully-open aviary house (~ 140,000 Dekalb White laying hens) under the Midwest (Iowa) climate conditions (outside temperature ranging from 3.4 to 28.9°C) was 4.0 ± 0.4 m3 h-1 hen-1, ranging from 0.8 to 9.1 m3 h-1 hen-1. Overall, daily mean total heat production rate (THP) was 7.5 ± 0.2 W kg-1, house-level sensible heat production rate (SHP) was 4.8 ± 0.3 W kg-1 and house-level latent heat production rate (LHP) was 2.7 ± 0.2 W kg-1. THP decreased by 40% in the nighttime or dark period (5.1 ± 0.3 W kg-1) as compared to the daytime or light period (8.5 ± 0.3 W kg-1). Information from this dissertation research is expected to contribute to establishment or improvement of guidelines for housing system design and management to ensure animal welfare and efficient use of resources in alternative laying-hen housing. In particular, the updated bioenergetics data will prove valuable in estimating building ventilation rate using the indirect calorimetry or carbon dioxide (CO2) balance method, and improving the design and operation of ventilation, supplemental heating, and cooling components of the housing.
... 188,189 Severe hyperkeratosis may be accompanied by deep epithelial lesions (open sores) and/or swelling of the foot pads. 190 Bumblefoot is a bulbous swelling of the footpad caused by a localized infection. 191 As the disorder is related to perch use, incidence of bumblefoot is typically greater in cage-free systems compared to conventional cages that are barren, 192,193 yet while the precise cause is not known, some hen breeds are more susceptible than others, and the condition is associated with poor hygiene and poor perch design, 194,195 both issues of management practice rather than housing system. ...
Article
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Housing systems for egg-laying hens range from small, pasture-based flocks to large, commercial-scale operations that intensively confine tens of thousands of hens indoors. The overwhelming majority of laying hens used for commercial egg production in the United States are confined in battery cages and provided 432.3 cm 2 (67 in 2 ) of space per bird. Cages prevent hens from performing the bulk of their natural behavior, including nesting, perching, dustbathing, scratching, foraging, exercising, running, jumping, flying, stretching, wing- flapping, and freely walking. Cages also lead to severe disuse osteoporosis due to lack of exercise. Alternative, cage-free systems allow hens to move freely through their environment and to engage in most of the behavior thwarted by battery-cage confinement. Given their complexity, cage-free systems can be more challenging to manage and may require superior husbandry skills and knowledge. Laying hens must be genetically suited to the alternative housing system to realize its full welfare advantages. Regardless of how a battery-cage confinement system is managed, all caged hens are permanently denied the opportunity to express most of their basic behavior within their natural repertoire. The science is clear that this deprivation represents a serious inherent welfare disadvantage compared to any cage-free production system. Cages and Alternative Systems Three basic housing systems are used in commercial egg production ‡ in the United States: battery cages, barns,
Article
1. In order to conduct this anniversary review, 10 excellent papers were carefully selected from the 148 available papers published on housing and husbandry in British Poultry Science (BPS) over the past 50 years. 2. The 10 selected papers on this subject covered mainly the housing and husbandry of laying hens, but two of them dealt with various aspects of broiler production. 3. Aspects of housing considered included a wide range of intensive and extensive systems of broiler and egg production. Specific topics included the effects of husbandry system on bird welfare, including skeletal damage in laying hens and contact dermatitis in broiler chickens, as well as the design and management of nest boxes, perches, feeders and drinkers, conventional laying cages (CCs), furnished laying cages (FCs) and non-cage systems (NCs). 4. A variety of the findings in these and related papers have enlightened our understanding of many aspects of poultry housing and husbandry; most of them have found application in the poultry industry and thus improved its efficiency.
Chapter
In contemplating the future of poultry welfare, one must be aware of the current situation in the context of how this issue has evolved. From this perspective, one may project forward to identify opportunities for continued advancements and barriers that must be negotiated. In this chapter, we will explore the development of poultry welfare as a topic of public concern and of academic inquiry. We will then describe different mechanisms through which improvements in poultry welfare have been achieved. In conclusion, we will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the existing framework in terms of addressing contemporary poultry welfare issues, and will identify problem areas where further interventions may be necessary to address societal concerns.
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The prevalence of footpad dermatitis (FPD) in broiler chickens in Japan was investigated. In the first examination at slaughterhouses, lesions were commonly observed on the footpads of a total of 8,985 broiler chickens from 45 flocks on 36 farms. In 3 flocks, all the birds examined had lesions. In the other 42 flocks, the incidence of FPD ranged from 31.9% (81/254) to 99.5% (1/222). The footpad lesions were classified into 4 categories according to the severity of dermatitis as follows; score 0, 1,181 birds (13.1%); score 1, 2,992 birds (33.3%); score 2, 3,000 birds (33.4%); and score 3, 1,812 birds (20.2%). The mean scores of the flocks varied widely from 0.31 to 2.69. Males had higher mean scores than females. No significant differences were found between the mean scores of birds reared in windowless houses and those in open-sided houses. On 4 farms, the investigation was carried out in different seasons, and 3 of them showed higher mean scores in winter than in summer. Next, observation of 2,255 birds from 15 flocks on 5 farms during a 4-week rearing period revealed that FPD was already produced at 7 days of age and worsened with age.
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Laying hen husbandry, especially conventional cages, have been a target of public criticism for a long time. The search for alternative housing systems, that are more animal-friendly, without losing high egg production standards, led to the development of small group housing systems. Equipment of these housing systems with perches, dust baths and nest boxes offers laying hens the possibility to perform a wider repertoire of their natural behaviour. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the welfare status of hens kept in the small group housing system Eurovent German. Therefore, plumage condition and foot pad health were recorded during four consecutive trials. The analysis of variance showed a highly significant effect of the laying month, the layer line and the trial on almost all examined parameters. The effect of group size was solely significant for the plumage of tail. Feathering of head, neck and wings was significantly worse and sole pad lesions were more common in hens from the third tier of the housing system compared to layers of the lower tiers. Although the furnished elements of the small group housing system may improve the welfare of hens, these elements further may force feather pecking behaviour by giving the hens an incentive to peck. Apart from a number of causative factors influencing feather damage and foot pad alterations, the interaction between the individual laying hen and its environment plays a decisive role.
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Birds are used for a variety of teaching and research purposes. While domesticated species like chickens, turkeys, and quail are probably the most frequently used birds, a range of species that vary widely in terms of their behavior and their husbandry and care needs may be kept. We provide an overview of some aspects of the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of birds, and address general aspects of avian care in the laboratory setting. These include housing, environment, nutrition, environmental enrichment, handling, transport, special management practices (sexing, identification, incubation, insemination, chick rearing), field studies, amelioration of pain and distress, and euthanasia. While there is a great deal of information about these topics available for poultry, there is much less for captive wild species, so individuals responsible for their care will need to consult relevant literature and experts to ensure that the needs of those species are met in the laboratory setting.
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The aim of this article is to commemorate in-vivo expertise on hens as a contribution to a more rational discussion about husbandry and so called diseases of intensive husbandry in chicken. Chicken have a distinctive social behaviour with definite patterns. Their social structure is especially stable in small flocks. Chicken communicate in a complex language. Feather picking is a behavioural vice of chicken with hereditary transmission. It should not be equated with cannibalism and aggressive behaviour but ethology and normal patterns of behaviour have to be taken into account. The fatty liver syndrome of laying hens is not primarily pathological, it is rather a physiological adaptation to higher metabolic requirements in the periods of laying and moulting, its extent depending on breed line and genetically determined laying performance. Sternal deformities can develop during the early growth phase caused by malnutrition or insufficient rearing conditions, and is influenced by heriditary factors. For the pathogenesis of foot abscess mainly mechanical pressure caused by sitting on perches with unfavourable quality has been discussed as causation. However, own observations point to a bacterial induced process.
Article
Foot pad health in Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL) and Lohmann Brown (LB) laying hens kept in a modified small group housing system (Eurovent (EV) 625a-EU (MSG), four perches) equipped with perches at different levels, a modified furnished cage system (EV 625A-EU (MFC), two perches) with the back or the front perch being elevated, a small group housing system (EV 625a-EU (SG), four non-elevated perches), and furnished cages with (two) non-elevated perches (EV 625A-EU (FC), Aviplus (AP)), was evaluated in two trials. The occurrence of hyperkeratosis and epithelial lesions was macroscopically assessed in 576 laying hens (432 LSL, 144 LB) and classified due to the severity of alterations. In the first trial, 69 samples of sole pads and 68 toe pad samples were examined histologically. Mild hyperkeratosis was the most frequent macroscopic finding and epithelial lesions were observed in hens of all housing systems evaluated. Modified perch positions had a positive influence on some traits of foot pad health. Histological examinations revealed hyperkeratosis in sole and toe pad samples in all cases. Mild hyperkeratosis was the predominant finding in sole pads, whereas in toe pads, moderate hyperkeratosis was prevailing. Severe cases of hyperkeratosis could be observed in FC, MFC, SG and MSG. Erpsions and ulcerations were found in sole pad samples of hens kept in SG and MSG. Perivascular infiltration of lymphocytes was observed in nearly all sole and toe pad samples examined.
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Footpad dermatitis in meat-type chickens was studied histopathologically and bacteriologically. Footpads with macroscopically severe dermatitis were collected from broiler flocks at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 weeks of age. A histopathological examination showed that ulceration or erosion was detected at high rates regardless of age,and inflammatory cell infiltration was observed in all cases. Crust formation and thickening of the epidermis were found in all of the examined footpads, and multinucleate giant cells were observed in some of them. Fibrosis in the dermis and adipose tissue increased with advancing age. Gram-positive and gram-negative bacterium were observed on the surface layer and inside the crusta in the gram-stained sections. Fungal proliferation in the crusta was found in one case. A bacteriological examination revealed that Staphylococcus spp. were isolated frequently from the deep layer of the lesions, and the predominant strains were S. lentus and S. simulans.
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This open access article reviews current knowledge about welfare implications of keel bone damage in laying hens. Keel bone damage is found in all types of commercial production, however with varying prevalence across systems, countries, and age of the hens. In general, the understanding of animal welfare is influenced by value-based ideas about what is important or desirable for animals to have a good life. This review covers different types of welfare indicators, including measures of affective states, basic health, and functioning as well as natural living of the birds, thereby including typical welfare concerns.
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Different strains of commercial laying hens have been molded by varying selection pressures, impacting their production, health, and behavior. Therefore, assumptions that all laying hen strains use the given resources within aviary systems similarly and maintain equal health and performance may be false. We investigated interactions among patterns of aviary resource-use by 2 strains of white and 2 strains of brown laying hens (4 units/strain, 144 hens/unit) with daily egg production, location of egg laying, keel fractures, and footpad damage across the lay cycle. Hens’ distribution among resources (litter, nest, wire floor, ledge, and perch) were recorded during light and dark periods at 28, 54 and 72 wk of age. Daily egg production and location were recorded and 20% of hens/unit were randomly selected and assessed for keel bone damage, foot health, and plumage quality. Production and health risks associated with hens’ resource-use were assessed using multivariable regression. During the day, more brown hens occupied wire floors, while higher numbers of white hens were on perches and litter. More brown hens were on lower-tier wire floors in the dark while more white hens occupied top tiers. Brown hens laid more eggs outside nests, showed lower incidence of keel fractures, and had better plumage quality than white hens. White hens had higher odds of keel fractures (4.2) than brown hens. Odds of keel fractures were 3.7 and 5.7 times higher at 54 and 72 wk than at 28 wk in all strains (P≤0.05). Occupying the upper tier at night increased odds of keel fractures 5.4 times. Occupying perches was associated with lower odds of foot lesions and poor plumage quality in all strains across lay (P≤0.05). Finally, white hens were associated with lower odds of non-nest laying (0.76), while higher nest-use by brown hens resulted in higher odds of non-nest egg-laying (1.56) across lay (P≤0.05). Distinct strain differences in resource use in an aviary were associated with different risks to hens’ production, health and welfare.
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Foot lesions can compromise the health and welfare of captive birds. In this study, we estimated the prevalence of foot lesions in captive flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). The study was based on photos of 1,495 pairs of foot soles from 854 flamingos in 18 European and two Texan (USA) zoological collections. Methodology for evaluating flamingo feet lesions was developed for this project because no suitable method had been reported in the literature. Four types of foot lesions were identified: hyperkeratoses, fissures, nodular lesions, and papillomatous growths. Seven areas on each foot received a severity score from 0 to 2 for each type of lesion (0 = no lesion, 1 = mild to moderate lesion, 2 = severe lesion). The prevalence of birds with lesions (scores 1 or 2) were 100%, 87%, 17%, and 46% for hyperkeratosis, fissures, nodular lesions, and papillomatous growths, respectively. Birds with severe lesions (score 2) constituted 67%, 46%, 4%, and 12% for hyperkeratosis, fissures, nodular lesions, and papillomatous growths, respectively. Hyperkeratosis and nodular lesions were most prevalent on the base of the foot and the proximal portion of the digits, likely reflecting those areas bearing the most weight. The second and fourth digits were most affected with fissures and papillomatous lesions; these areas of the foot appear to be where the most flexion occurs during ambulation. The study demonstrates that foot lesions are highly prevalent and widely distributed in the study population, indicating that they are an extensive problem in captive flamingos.
Article
A total of 1584 Lohmann Selected Leghorn hens were kept in 144 modified cages furnished with—perch, nest and sandbath for 5, 6, 7 or 8 hens per cage or in 162 conventional cages for 4 hens. Cage floor area was 600 cm per hen excluding nest and sandbath. Doors to nests and sandbaths were time monitored. Production, mortality, exterior egg quality, health, integument and the birds use of facilities were registered from 20 until 80 weeks. No effects of group size or keeping system on production or mortality were detected, but the furnished cage gave more cracked and less dirty eggs than the conventional cage. Hens in the furnished cage had better plumage condition, less toe pad hyperkeratosis, shorter claws, less rear body wounds and stronger humerus, but dirtier feet than hens in the conventional cage. Hens in the larger group sizes had the dirtiest feet. In the furnished cage, on average, 86% of all eggs were laid in the nests and 0.6% in the sandbaths. The rolling out efficiency from nests was best in the larger group sizes. During night less than 0.5% of the hens stayed in the sandbath and less than 2% stayed in the nest. Average use of perches was 28% during the day and 91% at night. Hens in the small group sizes used the sandbath most. Dust‐bathing behaviour also occurred on the wire floor.
Article
1. ISA Brown hens were caged in groups of 4 from 20 to 72 weeks at 675 cm/bird. A control treatment in conventional cages was compared with 4 treatments involving softwood perches. In deep cages they were located across the front, across the rear and across both; in wide, shallow cages there was one long perch across the front. For half of each treatment perches were circular in cross section, and for half they were rectangular.2. Time spent overall in daytime perching was relatively consistent over the laying cycle, from 47% in period 1 to 41% in period 10. Perch arrangement had a major influence on perching time, which varied from 20% on the rear perch to 85% on the long perch. Predominant activities on front perches were feeding and drinking; on rear perches, preening and resting.3. Perches were heavily used for roosting at night: the proportion varied from 60 to 72% on front or rear perches, through 72 to 78% on long perches, and 99% on two perches.4. Physical condition was also affected by treatment. Foot damage was less in birds with rectangular perches than with circular perches; rear perches resulted in less damage than the control. Tibia breaking strength was greater in birds from cages with perches. There was some evidence of reduced feather damage, especially where there was sufficient perching space for all birds.5. Egg production on a hen‐d basis across 12 laying periods was 83% in cages with perches compared to 85% in control cages, with no significant differences between treatments. Hens were seen to lay from perches; this probably accounted for the higher proportion of cracked eggs from cages with perches. This proportion varied from 4% with rear perches to 18% with two perches, compared to 2% in control cages.6. Although not all effects of perches were beneficial, overall they made an appreciable contribution to bird welfare. They should be considered in combination with other potential modifications to cages.
Article
In four experiments a total of 3660 SCWL laying hens kept in conventional cages at low and high stocking densities with and without a perch, Get-away (GA) cages and aviaries with litter (AL), were used for studies on the presence of bumble foot (BF), distal toe pad hyperkeratosis (TPH), keel bone lesions (KBL) and of the breaking strength of tibia and humerus. Commercial hybrids were used: LSL (Expts. 1, 2 and 4); LSL and Shaver (Expt. 3). Only clearly observed in systems with perches, the incidence of BF and KBL was mostly affected by perch design, while BF was also strongly affected by strain and housing system. LSL showed significantly higher incidence of BF, especially in GA and AL. TPH, only found in conventional cages, was affected both by strain and stocking density, LSL hens and lower stocking density showing significantly lower incidence. Apart from welded wire net platforms, a European beech hardwood circular prototype perch with a flattened upper and lower surface seemed to combine in the best way until now low incidences of BF and KBL. Bone breaking strength was positively influenced by lower stocking density and the presence of a roost.
Article
The effect of modified cages on production, shell quality, feather cover and foot condition was measured in 2 Australian commercial laying strains housed in a naturally ventilated laying shed from 18 to82 weeks of age. Two cage modifications were investigated. Firstly , the inclusion of a perch within the cage, and secondly, the installation of solid sides. Compared with normal cages, installation of a perch in a cage reduced food intake (5.3%) and liveweight (4.5% at 82 weeks) and improved feather cover around the vent (feather score of 2.15 to 2.66). This was offset by a decrease in egg production (2.4%), shell weight (1.5%) and thickness (11%), an increase in cracked (53.8%) and dirty eggs (28.9%), and an increase in claw length (9.2%). Relative to control cages, the provision of solid sides in cages improved overall feather cover of hens (feather score of 2.46 to 2.67), but there was a 54.5% increase in hen mortality during a period of hot weather. Additional modifications to the cage are required to optimise the benefit of perches. Similarly, improvement in ventilation and cooling in naturally ventilated sheds are required to maximise the benefits of solid-sided cages for hens and avoid heat stress.
Article
Production, health and behaviour were studied in 648 White Leghorn hens of two strains, LSL and Shaver 288, housed in three-tier battery cages (four hens per cage, 600 cm2 per hen) with three treatments; two with a perch fitted across the cage, 17 (PB) or 24 cm (PC) from the back of the cage, respectively, and control cages without perch (NP). Introducing a perch did not significantly affect production, but PC gave more dirty eggs, and both PC and PB tended to give more cracked eggs. The perch caused inferior keel bone condition and hygiene of the cage floor and a stronger tibia. LSL hens showed higher production, better feed conversion ratio, fewer cracked eggs, better keel bone health and shorter claws than Shavers. Use of the perch averaged 25 and 90% during day and night, respectively. The perch did not significantly affect other behaviours. There were significant interactions between strain and cage design regarding laying percentage, egg weight, cracked eggs, live weight, foot- and perch hygiene, keel bone condition and toe pad hyperkeratosis.
Article
1. In 2 trials the health and behaviour of a total of 3552 caged laying hens of 4 hybrids, Dekalb XL, Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL) and Shaver 288 in trial 1 and ISA Brown and LSL in trial 2, were studied. The cage designs were Get‐away cages (GA) with 15 hens per cage, a special version of the ‘Edinburgh modified cage’ called ‘Modified and enriched cage’ (ME) with 4 ISA or 5 Leghorn hens per cage, conventional metal cages with 4 hens per cage without (CO) and with a perch (PC) and conventional plastic cages (PL) with three hens per cage. GA and ME included nests, perches and sandbaths. 2. In the first trial two nest models were used, artificial turf and welded wire floor. In the second trial both nest models were used in GA, while all nests in ME were equipped with artificial turf. In the second trial there were 4 sandbath treatments in ME; no sandbath, sandbath (25×50 cm) first opened at 16 weeks of age, sandbath first opened at 26 weeks and double size sandbath (50 × 50 cm) first opened at 16 weeks. Hens in GA were allowed access to the sandbaths from 26 weeks. 3. At 35 and 55 weeks the best plumage condition (feather cover) was found in PL and GA but plumage condition in ME was not significantly inferior than in GA. Hens in GA had the dirtiest plumage and most bumble foot but no toe pad hyperkeratosis. Some toe pad hyperkeratosis occurred in the other systems. Most keel bone lesions were found in systems with perches. The highest mortality was registered in GA. Hens in systems with perches, sandbaths and nests had increased strength of humerus at slaughter. 4. More eggs were laid in nests with artificial turf than in welded wire floor nests. LSL hens laid larger proportions of eggs in the nests (94% and 92% in the two trials) than the other hybrids. Less than 1% of the eggs in ME and 2% in GA were laid in the sandbaths. 5. The use of perches in ME and PC was approximately 30% in the day time. At night the use was 93% in ME and 89% in PC in trial 1 and 96% in ME and 81% in PC in trial 2. 6. Hens in ME with the double sized sandbath both visited the sandbath and performed dust bathing behaviour most, followed by hens in GA, hens in ME with access to the bath from 16 weeks and last, hens in ME with access to the bath from 26 weeks. 7. It is concluded that enrichments of laying cages are used by the hens to a large
Article
1. An experiment was conducted to determine whether different moisture levels of litter and perches with different hygienic conditions are involved in the manifestation of foot pad dermatitis in White Leghorn layers. 2. Four different treatments were compared: dry litter and dry perches; dry litter and wet perches; wet litter and dry perches; and wet litter and wet perches. Temperature, pH, air humidity and ammonia changes in the pens were monitored. 3. The mean prevalence of foot pad lesions in groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 17%, 13%, 49% and 48% respectively. The overall incidence of foot pad lesions in birds reared on dry litter was 38%, and in birds reared on wet litter 92%. 4. When the air temperature was above 20 degrees C, an increasing moisture content in the litter was associated with an increasing incidence of foot pad dermatitis. However, when the air temperature was below 20 degrees C there were no new cases of dermatitis in any of the 4 treatments. There were no significant differences in litter pH or ammonia between the 4 treatments when compared over the whole experiment. 5. Although the incidence of lesions was not significantly affected by the presence of wet perches, the area of the lesions tended to be in groups with wet patches than in groups with dry perches. 6. It is suggested that moisture and temperature are important contributing factors for the occurrence of foot pad dermatitis in laying hens. Wet perches may contribute to the severity of such lesions.
Article
Gross pathologic and histologic changes were investigated in a total of 1000 end-of-lay hens. Thirty animals were drawn from free range stocks, 270 from deep litter stocks, and 700 from caging systems. The following changes were evaluated with regards to housing systems: Pododermatitis, deformation of the keel bone and amputated beaks occurred primarily in free range hens. Deep litter hens also suffered from pododermatitis, keel bone deformation and amputated beaks in addition to pecking wounds. In caged hens severe fatty liver syndromes, injuries of the claws and inflammation of the feather follicles were mainly found. Furthermore, injuries and fractures due to handling and transport were almost exclusively found in caged hens. It has to be concluded that all of the investigated housing systems can predisposed hens to certain lesions. The documented changes--e.g. chronic inflammation, skelettal deformities and injuries--are painful and may lead to permanent alterations. Therefore, these changes should be condemned as conflicting with animal protection regulations.
Article
1. A 3-year trial was carried out of cages for laying hens, occupying a full laying house. The main cage designs used were 5000 cm2 in area, 50 cm high at the rear and furnished with nests and perches. F cages had a front rollaway nest at the side, lined with artificial turf. FD cages also had a dust bath containing sand over the nest. H cages had two nest hollows at the side, one in front of the other. They were compared with conventional cages 2500 cm2 in area and 38 cm high at the rear. 2. Cages were stocked with from 4 to 8 ISA Brown hens per cage, resulting in varied allowances of area, feeder and perch per bird. No birds were beak trimmed. In F and FD cages two further treatments were applied: nests and dust baths were sometimes fitted with gates to exclude birds from dust baths in the morning and from both at night; elevated food troughs, with a lip 33 cm above the cage floor, were compared with standard troughs. 3. Management of the house was generally highly successful, with temperature control achieved by ventilation. Egg production was above breeders' standards and not significantly affected by cage design. More eggs per bird were collected when there were fewer birds per cage but food consumption also then tended to be higher. 4. The number of downgraded eggs was variable, with some tendency for more in furnished cages. Eggs laid in dust baths were often downgraded. Those laid at the back of the cage were frequently dirty because of accumulation of droppings. H nests were unsuccessful, with less than 50% of eggs laid in the nest hollows. However, up to 93% of eggs were laid in front rollaways, and few of these were downgraded. 5. Feather and foot damage were generally less in furnished than in conventional cages, greater where there were more birds per cage. With an elevated food trough there was less feather damage but more overgrowth of claws. In year 2, mortality was greater in cages with more birds. 6. Pre-laying behaviour was mostly settled in front rollaway nests. Dust baths were used more for pecking and scratching than for dust bathing. Comfort behaviour was more frequent in furnished cages than conventional, although still not frequent. Locomotion was strongly affected by number of birds per cage or by space per bird, being reduced by crowding. Most birds perched at night except in one treatment providing only 10.7 cm perch per bird. 7. Behaviour was more unrestricted and varied, and physical condition was better, in furnished than in conventional cages. However, egg production will cost more in furnished cages, partly because more eggs are downgraded. Dust baths must be fitted with gates that the birds cannot open from outside, but gates for nest boxes were found unnecessary. If a low perch is fitted it must be far enough from the back of the cage for birds to walk there. 8. Where there was less space per bird (more birds per cage) than the requirements in the 1999 European Commission Directive on laying hens, there were: fewer eggs per hen, but still above the breeders' target; lower food consumption; more feather and foot damage, but less than in conventional cages; higher mortality in one trial out of three; less freedom of movement. However, the results were still very good even with 8 birds per cage, and support the principle that furnished cages provide an acceptable way of protecting the welfare of laying hens.
Ursache und Pathogenese von Fußballengeschwü bei Legehennen
  • N Siegwart
SIEGWART, N. (1991) Ursache und Pathogenese von Fußballengeschwü bei Legehennen. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bern.
Pathologisch-anatomische Untersuchungen bei Legehennen aus verschiedenen Haltungssystemen
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