Plumage condition in single comb white leghorn laying hens kept in conventional cages of different designs

Tauson, R.

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica 34(2): 221-230


Accession: 006136302

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A study of plumage condition in 4032 Babcock B-300 Single Comb White Leghorn layers with untrimmed beaks was carried out. Six conventional cage batteries were used, 3 with solid side partitions (S) and 3 with welded wire mesh partitions (M). Corrections for moderate differences in cage floor space per hen were carried out. Altogheter 280 bird/treatment (S and M) were visually scored according to a 4 point scale at 35, 52, 64 and 81 wk of age for plumage condition of neck, breast back, wings and tail. The points of these scores were added to give a total score for the whole body. In S-birds there was significantly less deterioration of plumage compared to M-birds until at least 64 wk of age regarding the sum of the individual scores. The effects on individual parts of body were different. Neck and breast feathers were not significantly affected. Wing plumage was significantly better in S until at least 64 wk of age. Plumage on back and tail was significantly better until at least 52 wk of age. Less feather pecking within and between cages and less abrasion may have caused the decrease in deterioration, possibly in interaction with less movement and/or agitation among birds in S-cages. Comparisons with birds with trimmed beaks are discussed.