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Commercial layer hybrids kept under organic conditions: a comparison of range use, welfare, and egg production in two layer strains

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Outdoor range areas provide laying hens with improved opportunities to perform natural behaviors and increase the available space per bird, however, birds are also exposed to potentially stressful factors including weather and predators. Ability to cope with challenging environments varies between different strains and must be considered to ensure good welfare. The aim of this study was to determine how suitable two hybrids, the Dekalb White (DW) and the Bovans Brown (BB), are for organic production with special emphasis on ranging behavior. A total of 1200 hens were housed according to organic regulations across 12 flocks of 100 birds. Range and shelter use, effect of weather, vegetation cover, egg production and quality, and mortality were assessed in addition to a range of clinical welfare indicators. Initially a greater proportion of DW hens accessed the range. However, after approximately two months, a greater proportion of BB were using the range and venturing further from the house. DW hens were more likely to use the shelters than BB hens (P
Original languageEnglish
Article number102005
JournalPoultry Science
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

    Research areas

  • Genotype, Laying hen, Outdoor access, Range use, Welfare

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