Welfare of laying hens on farm

Søren Saxmose Nielsen, Julio Alvarez, Dominique Joseph Bicout, Paolo Calistri, Elisabetta Canali, Julian Ashley Drewe, Bruno Garin-Bastuji, Jose Luis Gonzales Rojas, Christian Gortázar Schmidt, Mette Herskin, Miguel Ángel Miranda Chueca, Barbara Padalino, Paolo Pasquali, Helen Clare Roberts, Hans Spoolder, Karl Stahl, Antonio Velarde, Arvo Viltrop, Christoph Winckler, Inmaculada EstevezMaryse Guinebretière, Bas Rodenburg, Lars Schrader, Inga Tiemann, Thea Van Niekerk, Michele Ardizzone, Sean Ashe, Michaela Hempen, Olaf Mosbach-Schulz, Cristina Rojo Gimeno, Yves Van der Stede, Marika Vitali, Virginie Michel, EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (AHAW)

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This scientific opinion focuses on the welfare of laying hens, pullets and layer breeders on farm. The most relevant husbandry systems used in Europe are described. For each system, highly relevant welfare consequences were identified, as well as related animal-based measures (ABMs), and hazards leading to the welfare consequences. Moreover, measures to prevent or correct the hazards and/or mitigate the welfare consequences are recommended. The highly relevant welfare consequences based on severity, duration and frequency of occurrence are bone lesions, group stress, inability to avoid unwanted sexual behaviour, inability to perform comfort behaviour, inability to perform exploratory or foraging behaviour, isolation stress, predation stress, resting problems, restriction of movement, skin disorders and soft tissue lesions and integument damage. The welfare consequences of non-cage compared to cage systems for laying hens are described and minimum enclosure characteristics are described for laying hens, pullets and layer breeders. Beak trimming, which causes negative welfare consequences and is conducted to reduce the prevalence and severity of pecking, is described as well as the risks associated with rearing of non-beak-trimmed flocks. Alternatives to reduce sharpness of the beak without trimming are suggested. Finally, total mortality, plumage damage, wounds, keel bone fractures and carcass condemnations are the most promising ABMs for collection at slaughterhouses to monitor the level of laying hen welfare on farm. Main recommendations include housing all birds in non-cage systems with easily accessible, elevated platforms and provision of dry and friable litter and access to a covered veranda. It is further recommended to implement protocols to define welfare trait information to encourage progress in genetic selection, implement measures to prevent injurious pecking, rear pullets with dark brooders and reduce male aggression in layer breeders.

TidsskriftEFSA Journal
Antal sider188
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2023


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