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Husbandry Conditions and Welfare Outcomes in Organic Egg Production in Eight European Countries

Jung, Lisa and Brenninkmeyer, Christine and Niebuhr, Knut and Bestman, Monique and Tuyttens, Frank A. M. and Gunnarsson, Stefan and Sorensen, Jan Tind and Ferrari, Paolo and Knierim, Ute (2020). Husbandry Conditions and Welfare Outcomes in Organic Egg Production in Eight European Countries. Animals. 10 , 2102
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Abstract

Simple SummaryAn important challenge for the further development of organic egg production is to reach and maintain a high level of animal welfare. In a European research project including eight countries, the welfare state in 107 laying hen flocks as well as their housing and management were recorded during two farm visits at peak and end of lay. Data analysis aimed to reveal factors that may help to prevent or reduce welfare problems. Large variation between flocks indicated options for improvement with regard to mortality, feather and injurious pecking, parasitic infestation and keel bone damage. Results of the project indicate that (i) decreasing mite and worm infestation and (ii) providing an attractive covered veranda help to decrease mortality; (iii) maximising access to the free-range to decrease injurious pecking and Ascaridia galli infection; (iv) feeding sufficient protein levels and (v) providing adequate litter is preventive against feather pecking and cannibalism; (vi) ensuring that the birds have sufficient weight and (vii) preventing accidents by adequate hen house facilities and light conditions contributes to reduced keel bone damage. These primarily management-based measures have the potential to improve bird welfare both in terms of behavioural and health aspects in organic egg production systems.In the European research project HealthyHens, welfare indicators as well as husbandry and management conditions were recorded in 107 organic laying hen farms in eight countries. Farms were visited at peak and end of lay. Egg production was on average comparable to breeder specifications. A mean mortality of 5.7% and mean prevalences of footpad lesions of 30.5%, keel bone damage of 44.5%, 57.3% of flocks with on average >200 Ascarid eggs per gram faeces and 28.2% of flocks with >100 mites/trap were recorded. A large variation between flocks indicated options for improvement. Based on the results, the following measures can be recommended: (i) decreasing mite and worm infestation and (ii) providing an attractive covered veranda, because of their association with decreased mortality; (iii) maximising access to the free range, because of its relation to decreased A. galli infection and less injurious pecking; (iv) feeding sufficient protein levels and (v) providing adequate litter as preventive measure against feather pecking and cannibalism; (vi) ensuring that the birds have sufficient weight and (vii) preventing accidents by adequate hen house facilities and light conditions to reduce keel bone damage. These primarily management-based measures have the potential to improve bird welfare both in terms of behavioural and health aspects.

Authors/Creators:Jung, Lisa and Brenninkmeyer, Christine and Niebuhr, Knut and Bestman, Monique and Tuyttens, Frank A. M. and Gunnarsson, Stefan and Sorensen, Jan Tind and Ferrari, Paolo and Knierim, Ute
Title:Husbandry Conditions and Welfare Outcomes in Organic Egg Production in Eight European Countries
Series Name/Journal:Animals
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:10
Article number:2102
Number of Pages:16
Publisher:MDPI
ISSN:2076-2615
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
Keywords:animal welfare, laying hen health, feather pecking, keel bone damage, laying hen, parasite load, free-range use
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-109493
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-109493
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.3390/ani10112102
Web of Science (WoS)000593033300001
ID Code:21193
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:11 Jan 2021 12:43
Metadata Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 19:23

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