News 336 views update:Aug 5, 2008

Hens prefer dust bathing in used wood shavings

Researchers at the Department of Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry, University of Kassel, Germany, studied the dust bathing behaviour of laying hens.

Although several studies show that fresh wood shavings (FW) are not well-suited as dust bathing substrate for laying hens, little is known about the suitability of wood shavings used as litter in non-cage systems for several weeks (used wood shavings, UW) and the effect of different substrate depths.
German researchers compared fresh and used wood shavings at two different depths of 2 cm and 20 cm with respect to how stimulating and adequate the substrate conditions are perceived by the hen.
Used shavings are friable and have more small particles, but a lower dry matter content than fresh shaving (73% vs. 87%).
In an experimental setup, 36 groups of four Lohmann Silver hens from furnished cages (Aviplus) were placed in test pens with one of the 4 shavings quality and depth combinations. Their behaviour was recorded with a video camera.
Used shavings gave the hens a greater stimulation to dust bathe than fresh shavings, and also stimulated the hens to start dust bathing quicker and more intense.
Therefore, under behavioural aspects wood shavings become more stimulating and adequate for dust bathing when degraded due to being used, provided that they are still friable.
Under the experimental conditions, substrate depth played a smaller role. On shallow shavings it was more difficult for the hens to bring the shavings into the plumage.
For the full research, click here

Editor WorldPoultry

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