Poster Session: Environment and Management


Despite the degree of environmental protection and economic feasibility offered by traditional poultry houses, the practice of housing laying hens in cages has been widely criticized worldwide due to the public perception that caged housing systems provide poor welfare for laying hens. As a result of this increasing public interest in laying hen welfare, alternative management systems such as free-range environments have been resurrected. To examine differences in production performance between hens reared in caged vs. range environments, a single cycle production performance for Hy-line brown layers was monitored from 17 to 82 weeks of age. Three range replicate flocks of 75 hens and 4-72 hen replicates in cages consisting of 513 flockmates were randomly assigned to either environment. Pullets were reared to prepare them for the environment they would be entering, in growing cages or on litter, for caged and range pullets, respectively. All other rearing procedures, dietary regimens, and vaccinations were identical for cage and rangereared flockmates. Cage birds had significantly better (P<0.05) feed conversion rates and higher (P<0.01) daily egg masses respectively compared to free-range hens (0.51±0.005 vs. 0.49±0.010) and (52.5±0.34 vs. 49.4±0.68). Additionally, cage birds produced significantly greater (P< 0.001) numbers of HH (357±5.2 vs. 304±10.5) and (P<0.0001) HD eggs (81.9±0.36 vs. 77.7±0.72) compared to free-range hens. Total mortality was significantly higher in free-range hens (28.4±3.50 vs. 8.9±1.75) (P<0.0001) although no significant differences in egg weights or sizes were observed. Caged hens produced a greater (P<0.05) number of Grade A eggs (90.0±0.76 vs. 85.9±1.52) while free-range hens produced a greater (P<0.0001) number of Grade B eggs (5.9±0.47 vs. 11.5±0.94). Lastly, there was no overall difference in the number of checks or losses between the two groups. This indicates that the cage environment had much better overall performance than their range flockmates.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Arbona2009PosterSE, title={Poster Session: Environment and Management}, author={D. V. Arbona and Jackie B Hoffman and Dietmar Erik Holm and F . E . Robinson and Robert A Renema and V. E. Carney}, year={2009} }