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pigs faceEarly-life interventions to improve laying hens welfare: impact of light during incubation and genetic background on stress responsivity of laying hens

 

Year: 2020

Rosa Schimmel
Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Supervisor(s): Professor Bas Rodenburg


 

Feather pecking in laying hens has repeatedly been reported as a welfare issue and since beak trimming has recently been banned in the Netherlands, other solutions must be found. The objective of this research was to study the effect of a green light-dark (12:12) cycle during incubation and the administration of black soldier fly (BSF) larvae in a food puzzle as enrichment on gentle and severe feather pecking (GFP, SFP) and the reaction in a novel object test (NOT) and a human approach test (HAT) in conditions comparable to organic farming. Administration of BSF larvae significantly diminished GFP given and a significantly shorter latency to approach a novel object (NO) was found in the BSF treatment group. At 5 days old, chicks incubated under a light-dark cycle were significantly later in approaching the NO than dark incubated chicks. In the HAT, significantly more “fleeing” was done in the group that received light during incubation, but no BSF larvae in comparison to the group that did receive both light during incubation and BSF larvae. In conclusion, BSF larvae enrichment and light during incubation may have welfare benefits in diminishing stress reactions and possibly feather pecking, but an extra round of research is needed for more and more significant results.