Early training of hens: effects on the animal distribution in an aviary system

Giulio Pillan, Angela Trocino, Francesco Bordignon, Anton Pascual, Marco Birolo, Anna Concollato, Julia Pinedo Gil, Gerolamo Xiccato


Submitted 2020-07-23 | Accepted 2020-08-12 | Available 2020-12-01


The study aimed at evaluating if the training of hens at their arrival in the production farm affected the distribution of animals in the aviary. Training consisted in raising by hand animals found on litter after turning off the light during the first two weeks. A total of 1,800 hens, aged 17 weeks, were allocated in 8 pens of the aviary and assigned to the trained or untrained groups. From 18 to 26 weeks of age, two operators recorded the number of animals on the different parts of the aviary at two observation hours (morning and afternoon). The training decreased the rate of hens on the floor (23.5% vs. 24.5%; P<0.05) and increased the rate of those on the third level (9.26% vs. 8.73%). The rate of animals on the floor (24.4% vs. 23.6%; P=0.05) and on the second tiers (36.9% vs. 33.2%; P<0.001) was significantly higher at morning hours compared to afternoon, whereas the rate of animals on the first tiers (29.6% to 33.7%; P<0.001) and on the perches of the third level (8.84% to 9.25%; P<0.05) was lower. As the age advanced, the rate of hens on the floor significantly increased (21% to 25% from week 18 to 26); animals at the first tiers decreased from week 18 (35.3%) to weeks 20-25 to reach the minimum value at week 26 (27.9%); differences in animals on the second tiers were erratic; rate of animals on the third level was the lowest (7.13%) at week 18 and the highest (11.7%) at week 26.

Keywords: aviary, laying hens, space use, nest lighting, observation hour


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