Guinebretière, M., Mika, A., Michel, V. et al. 2020. Effects of management strategies on non-beak-trimmed laying hens in furnished cages that were reared in a non-cage system. Animals 10(3), 399.
Beak trimming in laying hens limits the negative consequences of injurious pecking, but could be prohibited by future regulations. This study assessed a combination of management strategies during the rearing period (objects, perches, music, human presence) and laying period (scratching mats, objects, feed fiber supplementation) to raise non-beak-trimmed animals. The welfare and laying performances of beak-trimmed (T) and non-beak-trimmed (NT) ISA Brown birds were compared between groups with (E) or without (NE) these strategies, with or without fiber supplementation in the diet during laying period. Fiber supplementation did not provide any benefit on pecking-related problems. In comparison with NT-NE birds, NT-E birds had lower mortality, were less fearful of a novel object, and had a better feather cover, without a negative impact on productivity (same laying rate and egg quality). Although this study showed advantages of beak trimming (T birds had higher body weights, laying rates and lower hen mortality than NT birds), it highlighted related problems (increasing pullet mortality, decreasing early weights and increasing beak defects). This study proposes practical solutions to limit the consequences of injurious pecking in non-beak-trimmed animals.