Egg Industry - October 2017 - 13
EggIndustry ❙ 13
As part of the research, Schrader explained, the
team examined how the birds interacted with different
types of perches - varying in shape and material -
in both settings. He observed that the birds often have
trouble making a clean landing moving from a higher
perch to a lower one, causing them to collide with
the perch or fall off of it completely. He noted as the
perches get more use, they lose their friction and birds
slip off more easily.
With this in mind, Schrader said the team designed
a "soft" perch. Essentially, the soft perch is a standard metal bar wrapped with a rubber material. Once
wrapped, the perch was larger and easier to grip for the
hens moving downward. A video he screened at the
conference showed one hen moving down onto a traditional perch then instantly struggling to keep a grip
and falling off the perch. The hen moving down onto a
soft perch landed easily and maintained its grip.
While the soft perch was only mentioned in passing, those in the audience were intrigued with the
concept and asked more about it. Schrader said the
research showed the thickest perches made for the best
foot stability. Going forward, the most important thing
about a "soft perch" is providing a material that is easily gripped and somewhat soft to the touch.
The design was just a prototype and, he said, is not
yet in use in any commercial operations in Germany.
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Are perches causing keel bone damage?
Schrader and others discussed whether the perch
might be causing bodily harm to the hens living in a
cage-free environment - specifically to the keel bone.
The keel bone is an extension of the sternum that
provides an anchor for the bird's wing muscles and
provides leverage for flight. Keel integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare. Damaged
keels are associated with increased mortality, reduced
egg production and egg quality, and keel damage is
likely associated with pain for the animal.
As part of his research, Schrader explained, the
study examined how birds interacted with perches
and where the pressure was actually located on
their footpad and keel bones. The study showed
October 2017 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
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