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
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
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.
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