Son, J., Lee, W.-D., Kim, H.-J. et al. 2022. Effect of providing environmental enrichment into aviary house on the welfare of laying hens. Animals 12(9), 1165.
This study aimed to determine the effects of providing environmental enrichment materials—pumice stone and alfalfa hay—to laying hens in the aviary system. A total of 2196 40-week-old Hy-Line Brown laying hens were randomly allotted to three treatment groups: (1) no enrichment (control; CON), (2) enrichment with pumice stone (PS), and (3) enrichment with alfalfa hay (HAY). Each treatment comprised four replicates of 183 hens each, and four of the same materials were provided per replicate. The experiment lasted for 26 weeks. Feed and water were provided ad libitum. As a result, the PS and HAY groups demonstrated increased egg production (p < 0.001). The HAY group showed a reduced rate of mislaid eggs (p < 0.01) and produced low egg weight and pale-yellow yolk (p < 0.05). Both enrichment materials decreased blood creatinine (CRE) or lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in the blood and resulted in a significantly lower corticosterone (CORT) level (p < 0.05). However, the feather condition scores for the laying hens were similar across all treatments (p > 0.05). In summary, although pumice stone and alfalfa hay are effective in alleviating stress and improving the production of laying hens, additional environmental improvement studies are needed to contribute to reducing pecking behaviors in poultry farming.