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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Microbiological and Product Quality Consequences of Housing Laying Hens in Production Systems

Location: Egg Safety and Quality

Title: Comparison of hen preference for nesting substrate material, and performance in a free range production system

Authors
item Anderson, K -
item Malheiros, R -
item Jones, Deana

Submitted to: Poultry Science Association Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 21, 2014
Publication Date: July 14, 2014
Citation: Anderson, K.E., Malheiros, R.D., Jones, D.R. 2014. Comparison of hen preference for nesting substrate material, and performance in a free range production system. Poultry Science Association Meeting Abstract. 93(1):175.

Technical Abstract: This project consisted of 200 Hy-Line Brown hens and was conducted utilizing the brood-grow-lay range huts at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Piedmont Research Station. Fifty hens were placed in each pen/paddock providing 1338 cm2/hen of floor space in the hut and 3.7 m2/hen on paddock rotated every 4 wks. Feed and water were provided ad libitum at all ages throughout the life of the flock from 17 to 45 wks of age. A single diet program was provided which met the daily nutrient needs and consumption requirements. Three nesting substrates were evaluated: astroturf, wood shavings, and straw. The nest substrates were allocated as follows: a) Pen 1, hens were provided with the 12 hole numbered nest using 4 holes each of astroturf, straw and wood shavings as the nesting substrate. The substrates were randomly rearranged to the 12 nests holes each period; b) Pen 2, provided with the 12 hole nests using Wood Shavings as the nesting substrate; c) Pen 3, hens provided with the 12 hole nests using Straw as the nesting substrate; d) Pen 4, hens provided with the 12 hole nests using astroturf. Egg data collection was conducted daily the frequency of use for each nest by the number of eggs per nest was determined. In pen 1, according to the eggs/substrate was used as the indicator of preference. The analysis for pen 1 was Proc Freq. to determine the nesting material preference. In the other pens a Chi Sq analysis was used to determine if the percent of floor eggs was more or less than the expected in each of the pens. In pen 1 the straw nesting substrate had the highest (P<0.001) frequency of use with 137 eggs/nest/period vs 60 and 42 for the astroturf and wood shavings, respectively. In the other pens shavings had a higher (P<0.02) frequency of use with 271 eggs/nest/period than astroturf at 221 eggs/nest/period. Astroturf had the highest (P<0.0001) incidence of floor eggs. This indicates that straw was the preferred nesting substrate and astroturf resulted in the greatest number of floor eggs.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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