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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Decision Support for Environmental Management of Cage and Cage-Alternative Layer Housing Systems for Thermal Comfort and Air Quality

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 3602-32000-011-06
Project Type: Reimbursable

Start Date: Sep 01, 2012
End Date: Aug 31, 2014

Objective:
1) Systematically and simultaneously assess environmental conditions and animal responses to thermal comfort and air quality, including health indicators, production parameters, and behavioral observations; 2) Determine duration and frequency of undesirable environmental conditions by quantifying microenvironments in various housing types for extended time periods; and 3) Implement and assess management strategies for alleviating undesirable environmental conditions in extreme weather conditions. The goal of this study is to modify environment for improving laying hens' health in cage and alternative housing systems.

Approach:
The proposed work will be completed in a combination of on-farm and laboratory studies. Monitoring equipment for quantification of environments (temperature, relative humidity, NH3 and CO2 concentrations) and ventilation methods will be applied to measure, manipulate, and control environmental conditions. Bird assessments will include remote and local monitoring of physiological and immunological reactions and hen behavior. On farm assessments will vary depending on the age, strain, and management strategies of available farms, but will include conventional cage (manure belt and high-rise), enriched colony, floor raised, and aviary houses. Laboratory studies will include assessments on hens reared in varying environmental conditions from incubation to cull. Mortality will be recorded over time. Samples (brain, blood and organs) will be analyzed using HPLC, RT-PCR, and RIA as well as pathological analysis, respectively. Behavior, neuroendocrine function, pathological changes and production will be compared among the treatments.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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