Egg Industry - October 2017 - 14
14 ❙ EggIndustry
PERCHES IN CAGE-FREE HOUSING
that perching hens tend to rest on
their keel bones more than their
In a separate presentation on
her research, Dr. Maja Makagon,
assistant professor of applied animal behavior at the University of
California, Davis' Department of
Animal Science, discussed the results of a study conducted to analyze
keel bone damage in an enriched
colony layer environment.
Makagon said 74 percent of
the observed collisions were with
perches located inside the en-
Future of poultry welfare:
What producers should expect,
riched colony and 30.5 percent of
those collisions occurred while
birds were ascending onto the
perch. The study also determined
the number of collisions - rather
than the number of keel bone
impacts, strength of impacts, or
presence of previous fractures -
was most likely to negatively affect keel bone integrity.
Dr. Lars Schrader, of Germany's Federal Research Institute for Animal
Health, speaks about research comparing hens living in cage-free
and enriched colony cage environments as part of the Egg Industry
Center's Egg Issues Forum in April in Columbus, Ohio.
She said the study highlights the
need for additional research to understand what aspects of the perch,
such as height, design and location,
are associated with the risk of keel
bone damage and if other variables
outside the scope of the study -
like the hen's breed and its housing
type - play a role.
"I don't want the takeaway from
this to be, 'Let's take out the perches.' Certainly not," Makagon said.
"There's a lot of good things that
they do, but certainly it underscores
that really we need to think about
how we are designing the systems."
Not everyone is convinced the
perch is causing keel bone damage.
In a separate presentation on bird
management, Maikel Veron, vice
president of North American sales for
Vencomatic, argued that the science
surrounding perches and keel bones
is outdated and inaccurate because it
doesn't study how hens really do in a
commercial, cage-free setting.
He said keel bone strength can be
influenced by diet, genetics and the
type of housing system the hen was
reared in as a pullet, among other
factors. Damage can come from
numerous sources aside from the
perch such as collisions with other
parts of the system or other birds,
or poorly executed jumps moving
up and down in the system. More
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ October 2017