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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Behaviour of laying hens in a deep litter house.

1. Flocks of medium hybrid laying hens were housed in a modified deep litter system; the house was divided into 2, 3 and 4 pens in three successive years. Flock size was 300 or 370 and stocking density varied from 3.4 to 10.7 birds/m2. Higher densities used were above those recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). 2. A random sample of 100 birds was identified with individual tags in each of the 9 flocks; regular observations using a scanning technique were made in each laying cycle to determine bird location and behaviour. 3. In all flocks the use of area by some individuals was uneven, that is, they were sighted in certain areas significantly more often than would have been expected by chance. The proportion of such individuals varied between flocks from 35 to 65%. Overall, birds spent more time on the slatted area than would have been expected from the area that it occupied. 4. A wide variety of different behaviour patterns was observed both on litter and on slats, but with foraging occurring more on litter and feeding more on slats. 5. Movement appeared to be constrained by crowding, because time spent in locomotion decreased in approximately linear fashion with increased stocking density. This provides support for MAFF recommendations of limits on stocking density in deep litter houses.[1]


  1. Behaviour of laying hens in a deep litter house. Appleby, M.C., Hughes, B.O., Hogarth, G.S. Br. Poult. Sci. (1989) [Pubmed]
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