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Health of Laying Hens in an Aviary System over Five Batches of Birds

Abstract

Mortality and health were studied in laying hens kept in an aviary system on a practical scale. All manage-ment inputs were done by university staff. Five batches of birds (trials) during a period of 6 years with approximately 4 700 birds per trial were included in the study. The aviary was a three-tiered “Marielund” system divided into 4 pens. Three hybrids, reared on lit-ter with access to perches, were used; Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL), Lohmann Brown (LB) and an experimental cross (SLU-1329). The hens were not beak-trimmed. The stocking density was 17 hens/m2 ground floor. Mortality varied between pens and between batches, ranging from normal rates of 3.4% to 7.8%, except in LSL in Trial 2 and LB in Trial 3 where it was much higher (15.6% and 20.9%, respectively). The dom-inating causes of total mortality were salpingitis and cannibalism. Coccidiosis and lym-phoid leucosis contributed significantly to mortality in Trial 2. An infestation with fowl mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) occurred in Trial 1. Feather loss was most severe in LB. Keel bone deviations were recorded at increasing levels by age. Foot abscesses occurred more frequently at 35 weeks than at 55 weeks. LSL was more severely affected than LB and SLU-1329.

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Acknowledgments

The study was sponsored by Svenska Djurskydds-foreningen, Lantbruksstyrelsen, Stiftelsen Veterinär Fjäderfaforskning, Sveriges Allmänna Djurskydds-förening and Kalmar Djurskyddsförening. AB Brö-derna Victorsson is thanked for providing the aviary and carrying out its modifications. The Poultry Divi-sion at Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics is thanked for providing the day-old chicks for the rearing of SLU-1329 pullets in Trial 5. All the tech-nical staff at the Avian Division at the Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, and particularly Mrs Eva Jerpdal, are thanked for excellently taking care of the birds at the Marielund poultry house.

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Correspondence to R. Tauson.

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Abrahamsson, P., Fossum, O. & Tauson, R. Health of Laying Hens in an Aviary System over Five Batches of Birds. Acta Vet Scand 39, 367–379 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03547785

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Keywords

  • housing system
  • coccidiosis
  • mites
  • salpingitis
  • serology
  • bumble foot
  • keel bone
  • feather pecking
  • cannibalism