Nutritional management of free range laying hens
Free range laying hens can be provided with the opportunity to access various structural areas including open floor space, feed areas, water lines, nest boxes, perches, aviary tiers, winter gardens and ranges. Different individual location preferences can lead to the development of hen subpopulations that are characterised by various performance, health, and welfare parameters.
Understanding the complexity of hen movement and hen interactions within their environment provides an opportunity to limit the disadvantages that are associated with housing in non-caged husbandry systems and aids in decision-making for farm staff, managers, and equipment designers.
This work highlights the dynamics of hen movement in free range systems, and its impact on hen performance and egg quality. Integrating knowledge about flock subpopulations into modern flock management will not only ensure that elite hens are able to use their full genetic potential, but will also help to improve the care of under-performing hens, allowing a more ethical, sustainable and welfare friendly egg production.
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