Evaluation of laying hen breeding conditions on the farm and egg quality in the cage and cage-free systems in the period after the peak of laying
Keywords:laying hen, breeding system, quality, welfare, egg
The study aimed to examine laying hens in the cage and cage-free breeding systems, the quality of table eggs and energy consumption in the hall after the peak of laying. In the research, the following were investigated and statistically evaluated welfare of laying hens Bovans Brown was monitored in three different rearing systems based on resources and animals. The research was designed into the post-peak laying period, at the age of laying hens from 34 to 47 weeks and a rearing system of enriched cages on deep litter and in aviaries. Statistical analyses of the measured data of the established indicators were performed with the SAS program package, version 8.2, for statistical characteristics, significance, and correlation relations. The proportion of laying hens dying was lower in aviaries compared to cages and on deep litter (p ≤0.05); in cages and on deep litter was comparable (p ˃0.05). The weight of laying hens was comparable (p ˃0.05). Feed consumption per hen, day, and egg was highest on deep litter (p ≤0.05). The proportion of eggs with a cracked shell and contaminated with dropping was highest on litter (p ≤0.05). Energy consumption in the hall expressed per layer and day was comparable in all three breeding systems (p ≤0.05). Among some selected indicators of laying hen welfare, egg quality and energy consumption in the hall during breeding and correlation relations (p ≤0.05) were statistically significant within individual breeding systems. The question of laying hen welfare and improving cage-free systems because of the adopted legislation banning breeding in a cage system requires further research to adopt best practices regarding resource-based, management- and animal-based parameters. Based on the results about welfare conditions, including energy consumption in halls and egg quality, it is an open question for comprehensive, interdisciplinary research.
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