M.J. Albentosa

University of Lincoln, Lincoln, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (11)11.4 Total impact

  • M.J. Albentosa · J.J. Cooper · T Luddem · S.E. Redgate · H.A. Elson · A.W. Walker
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    ABSTRACT: 1. Limited information is available on how changes in horizontal and vertical space within enriched or furnished layer cages (as defined by Directive 1999/74/EC) influence hen behaviour. This study evaluated the effects of varying minimum cage heights and space allowances on the behaviour of laying hens housed in furnished cages. It was conducted on two flocks of medium brown hybrid hens housed in furnished cages with access to perches and nest boxes on a semi-commercial scale at ADAS Gleadthorpe. 2. Flock 1 consisted of two layer strains (ISA Brown and Babcock 380), housed at two minimum cage heights (38 and 45 cm) and 5 stocking densities between 609 and 870 cm2/bird, with 12 replicates of each of the 20 strain/cage height/stocking density treatment combinations. Stocking density was varied by varying the number of birds per cage from 10 to 7 in standard full-width cages or housing 7 hens in a narrower cage. As a consequence stocking density, group size and trough width per bird co-varied for 4 out of 5 stocking density treatments. 3. Behaviour of flock 1 was sampled at 33 to 36, 46 and 68 weeks of age. At each age one top-tier, one middle-tier and one bottom-tier cage was sampled for each treatment. 4. Few behavioural differences due to cage treatments were detected. Hens at 870 cm2 had shorter feeding bouts than hens at 609 and 762 cm2. Yawning was more common in the cages with greater cage height. 5. Video recordings of flock 1 examined cage height effects on hens' use of vertical space and provided additional data on stretching and self-maintenance activities. No differences in behaviour between 38 and 45 cm cages were found except that scratching head was more common in cages with greater cage height. 6. Flock 2 consisted of two layer strains (Shaver Brown and Hy-Line Brown), housed at 38 and 45 cm and 609, 762 and 1016 cm2/bird, with 18 replicates of each of the 12 strain/cage height/stocking density treatment combinations. Stocking density was varied by housing 10, 8 or 6 hens in standard full-width cages. Behaviour of flock 2 was sampled at 30, 48, 60 and 67 weeks from video recordings. Three cages per treatment from middle-tiers only were sampled at each age. 7. Hens housed at 609 cm2/hen had the longest mean feeding bout, greater than for hens at 762 cm2/hen but not hens at 1016 cm2/hen. More unsuccessful attempts to reach the feeder and sideways and backwards displacements from the feeder occurred at 762 and 609 cm2/hen than at 1016 cm2/hen. A maximum of 8 hens were observed feeding synchronously. 8. These results suggest that changes in horizontal and vertical space over the ranges we studied had little effect on behaviour other than feeding behaviour. Specifying a minimum useable trough space per hen, rather than calculating feeder space from total length of feeder per cage, irrespective of accessibility, might help avoid crowding at the feeder and associated disturbance of feeding bouts.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2007 · British Poultry Science
  • R.J.N. Merrill · J.J. Cooper · M.J. Albentosa · C.J. Nicol
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    ABSTRACT: Following the 2012 European ban (1999/74/EC) of conventional battery cages, only furnished cages will be allowed for laying hens. However, even when furnished cages provide a pecking and scratching area most dustbathing occurs on the wire floor. This study aimed to investigate whether laying hens showed a preference for dustbathing on a covered wire floor rather than a conventional wire floor. Eight groups of 10 hens were housed in pairs of adjoining furnished cages. All hens were leg-ringed for individual identification. Each pair of cages consisted of one cage containing a wire floor covered with perforated Astroturf and a second cage containing a conventional wire floor, joined by a pophole through which hens had unrestricted access. Initial scan samples were taken to investigate the general behaviour of the hens on each floor type. Dustbathing was observed more frequently on Astroturf and no other behaviours were affected by the floor type. Scans were subsequently taken at 5 min intervals between 1130h and 1600h for 10 days, identifying the number of hens, and which individual hens, were dustbathing on each floor type. Data were analysed on a per cage basis, using the binomial sign test. A strong preference was found for dustbathing on Astroturf flooring that was apparent in all cages. Furthermore, the distribution of hens indicated this was not attributable to any overall preference for either floor type but was specific to periods when hens were dustbathing. This demonstrates that there is the potential to include Astroturf in the design of furnished cages, as a dustbathing substrate, in order to improve the welfare of laying hens.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2006 · Animal welfare (South Mimms, England)
  • Melissa J Albentosa · Jonathan J Cooper
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    ABSTRACT: To avoid unpredictable social effects, animals' behavioural priorities are almost always tested using individuals housed singly, yet many species kept commercially are social animals housed in groups. Our aim was to develop a method of investigating environmental preference in group-housed laying hens, Gallus gallus domesticus, that maximised the external validity of our findings. In a simple test of preference, eight groups of ten hens were given free choice between furnished cages with minimum heights of 38 cm (low) and 45 cm (high). A preference for one cage height over the other would be evident as a shift from a binomial distribution of flock sizes in the two cages. No height preference was found as hens distributed evenly between the two cages more frequently than was expected. This suggests at high stocking densities maximising average inter-individual distance could be a priority over increased cage height. In a second experiment, to investigate the value that hens placed on a change in cage height; a 'cost' in the form of a narrow gap was imposed on movement from a low or high start cage to a high or low target cage, respectively. Cage height did not influence the latency of the first three hens to enter the target cage. However, latencies for subsequent hens were shorter and more hens worked to access a high target cage than a low target cage. We suggest that titrating animals' willingness to tolerate higher stocking densities against access to a resource could be an effective way to compare responses of group-housed animals to resources that are expected to satisfy the same motivational state.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2005 · Behavioural Processes
  • Jonathan J. Cooper · Melissa J. Albentosa
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    ABSTRACT: Classically, biologists have considered adaptation of behavioural characteristics in terms of long-term functional benefits to the individual, such as survival or reproductive fitness. In captive species, including the domestic horse, this level of explanation is limited, as for the most part, horses are housed in conditions that differ markedly from those in which they evolved. In addition, an individual horse's reproductive fitness is largely determined by man rather than its own behavioural strategies. Perhaps for reasons of this kind, explanations of behavioural adaptation to environmental challenges by domestic animals, including the capacity to learn new responses to these challenges, tend to concentrate on the proximate causes of behaviour. However, understanding the original function of these adaptive responses can help us explain why animals perform apparently novel or functionless activities in certain housing conditions and may help us to appreciate what the animal welfare implications might be. This paper reviews the behavioural adaptation of the domestic horse to captivity and discusses how apparently abnormal behaviour may not only provide a useful practical indicator of specific environmental deficiencies but may also serve the animal as an adaptive response to these deficiencies in an “abnormal” environment.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Livestock Production Science
  • M.J. Albentosa · J.J. Cooper
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    ABSTRACT: Spatial restriction and low cage height can reduce the rate at which comfort activities, such as wing flaps, stretching, body shakes and tail wags, are carried out by laying hens in conventional wire cages. In this study we investigated the performance of these activities in laying hens housed in furnished cages with perches and nest boxes, similar to those required in EU legislation from 2012. We compared the behaviour of groups of eight hens at a stocking density of 762 cm2 per bird with that of pairs of hens housed at a lower stocking density of 3048 cm2 per bird at two minimum cage heights of 38 cm and 45 cm. The rates of wing/leg stretches (0.80 stretches per hen per hour), tail wagging (0.76), body shaking (0.48), wing raising (0.19) and feather raising (0.05) were low, whilst full wing flaps were not observed during the study. Hourly rates of performance of wing/leg stretches (0.45 vs 1.06) and tail wags (0.34 vs 1.25) were significantly lower in eight-bird cages than in two-bird cages. We conclude that reducing the number of hens in furnished cages increases opportunities to perform certain comfort activities, but that, even at low stocking densities, comfort activities are rarely observed.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2004 · Animal welfare (South Mimms, England)
  • J.J. Cooper · M.J. Albentosa · S.E. Redgate

    No preview · Article · May 2004 · British Poultry Science
  • JJ Cooper · MJ Albentosa
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    ABSTRACT: The spatial and social requirements of hens under commercial husbandry systems are not yet fully understood. Hens may require additional space to perform specific activities such as nesting or wing flapping or to minimize negative social interactions. In cage systems, the provision of physical environmental resources alone, without any additional space, may lead to physical and psychological restriction due to social competition. In colony systems it is likely that the greater potential freedom of movement, use of vertical space and group dynamics should provide ample opportunity for such activities, although there is a danger of an increase in agonistic interactions, where social strategies fail to cope with larger flock sizes. For these reasons, the reductions in stocking density being introduced in both cage and colony systems in Europe are likely to benefit hen welfare.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Jan 2004
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    Jonathan J. Cooper · Melissa J. Albentosa
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    ABSTRACT: This article reviews the behavioural requirements of laying hens. It primarily concentrates on evidence from consumer demand studies and relates this to the behavioural and physical consequences of denying hens opportunities to express certain activities. Hens clearly place a high value on food and this provides a useful yardstick for assessing the value of other resources. Hens have been found to work for access to a range of additional resources including pecking, scratching and dust bathing substrates, perches (particularly prior to nightfall), additional space and nestboxes. So far, only nestboxes (prior to oviposition) have been found to have a value comparable to food (in food-deprived hens).To date, however, no study has systematically compared the value of a range of resources. Furthermore, only a limited number of studies have related deprivation of specific resources to behavioural or physiological measures of distress. Egg production is clearly very efficient economically when hens are housed in conventional wire cages and provided with adequate food and water, but the hens show signs of frustrated nesting and pecking/scratching behaviour in these conditions. Modified or enriched cages allow for these activities, as well as perching, and, potentially dust bathing, but do not allow full expression of exploratory or comfort behaviours. Free-range systems, percheries and other types of colony housing provide opportunities for all of the above, although at high stocking densities social competition and limited space may restrict performance of these behaviours for certain birds.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2003 · Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews
  • MJ Albentosa · E Glen · C Leeb · X Whittaker · CJ Nicol
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    ABSTRACT: Selective breeding against feather pecking in laying hens depends on identification of individual birds with the lowest feather pecking activity. If certain behavioural traits are phenotypically and genetically associated with, or predictive of, feather pecking activity then tests for these traits may offer a quicker method of identifying suitable parent birds.In a previous study, pairs of pullets that pecked most frequently at a feather bundle also avoided a novel object in a separate test. In the present study, 319 ISA Brown pullets were tested with a novel object at 7–9 weeks of age to determine whether response to novelty predicted either pecking at feather bundles presented in two different ways (loose or fixed) at both 11–13 and 25–27 weeks of age, or feather pecking in the home pen between 15 and 33 weeks of age.Response to novelty did not predict pecking at feather bundles. There were no associations between the amount of pecking directed towards different types of feather bundle, or between pecking at feather bundles and pecking at the feathers of live birds. Response to novelty also failed to predict tendency to feather peck, although recorded levels of feather pecking, especially severe feather pecking, were relatively low. However, when birds with a varied range of responses to a novel object were housed together, more of the birds feather pecked (P
    No preview · Article · Aug 2003 · Applied Animal Behaviour Science
  • M.J. Albentosa · J.B. Kjaer · C.J. Nicol
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    ABSTRACT: 1. Behaviours associated with a high or low tendency to feather peck could be used as predictors of feather pecking behaviour in selective breeding programmes. This study investigated how strain and age at testing influenced responses in behavioural tests. 2. Four layer-type strains (ISA Brown, Columbian Blacktail, Ixworth and a high feather pecking (HP) and a low feather pecking (LP) line of White Leghorn) were reared in 6 same-strain/line pens of 8 birds from one day old. Birds in half the pens were given an open field test, a novel object test and a test with loose feather bundles between 4 and 12 weeks of age and a tonic immobility (TI) test at 13 weeks of age. All pens were tested with fixed feather bundles at 26 weeks, and undisturbed behaviour in the home pens was videoed at 1 and 27 weeks of age. Daily records of plumage damage were used as an indicator of feather pecking activity in the home pens. 3. Strain did not influence novel object test, open field test or loose feather test behaviour, although age effects in all three tests indicated a reduction in fearfulness and/or an increase in exploratory behaviour with increasing age. 4. White Leghorns showed longer TI durations than the other strains but less pecking at fixed feather bundles than ISA Browns and Columbian Blacktails. 5. There were few associations between behaviour in the 5 different tests, indicating that birds did not have overall behavioural traits that were consistent across different contexts. This suggests hens cannot easily be categorised into different behavioural 'types', based on their test responses and casts doubt on the usefulness of tests as predictors of feather pecking.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2003 · British Poultry Science
  • M.J. Albentosa · J.J. Cooper

    No preview · Article · Mar 2003 · British Poultry Science