Location: Livestock Behavior Research
Project Number: 5020-32000-011-11
Start Date: Oct 01, 2013
End Date: Jul 30, 2017
Hens, 17 wk of age, will be randomly assigned to 3 treatments: 1) cages with water cooled galvanized steel circular perches (400 mL/min flow rate chilled to 10o C), 2) cages with ambient air-equilibrated galvanized steel circular perches, and 3) conventional cages without perches. Two trials lasting 12 months will be initiated in early April during each of 2 consecutive years using poultry housing with standard ventilation equipment. The hen housing facility will not be evaporatively cooled during the summer to simulate typical housing for laying hens in the Midwest. To simulate a production environment, water cooling in treatment 1 will only be used during hot weather (ambient temperature of 29o C or greater) when hens peak in egg production. If the summer seasons turn out to be mild, then measures will be used to induce heat stress (32o C ambient) without causing mortality by use of mobile heaters. All hens will be evaluated for physical condition (skeletal and foot health and feather quality); biological phenomena (body weight, egg production, egg weight, shell quality, feed efficiency, and necropsies on all mortality); and well–being indicators (body temperature as well as behavioral and endocrine responses). Economic and environmental impacts will be assessed.