Welfare assessment of two hybrids of laying hens housed in conventional cages

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Husbandry and Animal Wealth Development, Faculty of Vet. Med., Sadat City Branch, Menoufia University,

2 Department of Hygiene, Zoonoses and Animal Behaviour and Management, Faculty of Vet. Med., Suez Canal University

3 Department of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Vet. Med., Mansoura University, Egypt.


The aims of this study were twofold: to assess the welfare of two hybrids of laying hens in conventional cages and to investigate the effects of tier’s level on the integument condition and fearfulness. Two commercial hybrids, white Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL) and brown Lohmann Traditional (LT) at about 18 weeks of age were used in the current study and were housed at three hens / cage. No birds were beak-trimmed. External appearance of the body (scoring of plumage condition and skin injuries at body parts and comb), heterophil-lymphocyte (H-L) ratios and duration of tonic immobility (TI) were used as indicators of well-being. LSL birds showed better plumage condition and low H-L ratios than LT birds while no significant difference was recorded in TI test between the two hybrids. Hens housed in the top tier showed worse feather condition and more wounds than birds in middle and bottom tiers whereas for fear levels, no significant difference was revealed for hens from different tiers of cages. These results suggest that the welfare of LSL birds was relatively good compared to LT. Therefore, conventional cages can be used by the hens to a large extent if birds are properly selected to be specifically adapted to cages.


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