Bìol. Tvarin. 2021; 23 (4): 8–14.
Received 22.07.2021 ▪ Accepted 19.11.2021 ▪ Published online 29.12.2021

Realization of hens’ potential productivity under the influence of group size

M. Sakhatsky, Yu. Osadcha

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine,
15 Heroyiv Oborony str., Kyiv, 03041, Ukraine

The parameters of the group size of laying hens of the industrial herd in cages are not provided by current domestic standards, and according to the recommendations of the cross developer should be at least 7 birds, although in practice they reach 100 birds, so they need to be clarified when using 12-tier cage batteries. The aim of the research was to study the influence of the group size of hens on their productivity with the same density of laying hens in similar cages by design. To do this, in a modern complex for the production of eggs we formed 4 groups of hens, each of which was kept in a separate poultry house-analogue in area and equipment, equipped with 12-tier cage batteries, the size of the cages in which differed. The hens’ group in each cage of the 1st group contained 93 birds, the 2nd group — 52 birds, the 3rd — 17 birds and 4th — 9 birds. It was found that the maximum realization of laying hens productivity of modern white-egg crosses during their keeping in cages of 12-tier cage batteries was observed for the 52–93 hens’ groups which allows for a 44-week period of use to receive an additional 13.3–48.2 million eggs from each poultry house (4.5–16.5 thousand eggs per 1 m2 of its area) compared to the group size 9 hens, at the highest level of the European coefficient of efficiency of their production by 1.6–2.8 units. It is shown that the group size 17 hens is insufficient for the formation of a strategy of social tolerance in hens and is accompanied by stressful conditions, which are manifested in a decrease in the preservation by 1.7–2.1%, body weight — by 2.6–3.4 %, laying on the initial laying hen — by 3.9–8.4% and on the average laying hen — by 4.3–4.4%, as well as a reduction in feed costs by 1.5–1.6%, which leads to a decrease in gross output eggs by 4.4–39.3 million eggs and egg mass — by 291.9–2508.6 tons from each poultry house, including 1.5–13.5 thousand eggs and 100.1–860.6 kg per 1 m2 of its area, reducing the yield of egg mass per initial laying hen by 0.7–1.5 kg with a decrease in the level of the European coefficient of efficiency of egg production by 1.0–2.2 units. While the keeping of laying hens in groups of 9 hens causes the development of chronic stress through the formation of a system of stable hierarchy and possible despotic behavior, the consequences of which are a decrease in preservation by 4.4–6.5%, body weight — by 2.1-5.4%, egg production at the primary — by 2, 8–11.0% and for the average laying — by 3.8–8.0%, as well as a decrease in feed costs by 2.0–3.6%, which causes a decrease in the gross yield of eggs by 8.9–48, 2 million eggs and egg mass — by 552.0–3060.5 tons from each poultry house, including 3.0–16.5 thousand eggs and 189.4–1050.0 kg from 1 m2 of its area, reduction of egg yield per initial laying hen by 0.4–1.9 kg with a decrease in the level of the European coefficient of egg production efficiency by 0.6–2.8 units.

Key words: hens, group size, egg production, preservation, stress, European egg production efficiency ratio

  1. Abidin Z, Khatoon A. Heat stress in poultry and the beneficial effects of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) supplementation during periods of heat stress. Poult. Sci. J. 2013; 69 (1): 135–151. DOI: 10.1017/S0043933913000123.
  2. Abrahamsson P, Tauson R. Effects of group size on performance, health and birds’ use of facilities in furnished cages for laying hens. Acta Agriculturae Scand. A. 1997; 47 (4): 254–260. DOI: 10.1080/09064709709362394.
  3. Ajakaiye JJ, Ayo JO, Ojo SA. Effects of heat stress on some blood parameters and egg production of Shika Brown layer chickens transported by road. Res. 2010; 43 (2): 183–189. DOI: 10.4067/S0716-97602010000200006.
  4. Appleby MC. Modification of laying hen cages to improve behavior. Sci. 1998; 77 (12): 1828–1832. DOI: 10.1093/ps/77.12.1828.
  5. Appleby MC. The Edinburgh modified cage: effects of group size and space allowance on brown laying hens. Appl. Poult. Res. 1998; 7 (2): 152–161. DOI: 10.1093/japr/7.2.152.
  6. Appleby MC, Walker AW, Nicol CJ, Lindberg AC, Freire R, Hughes BO, Elson HA. Development of furnished cages for laying hens. Poult. Sci. 2002; 43 (4): 489–500. DOI: 10.1080/0007166022000004390.
  7. Attia YA, Hassan RA, Qota MA. Recovery from adverse effects of heat stress on slow-growing chicks in the tropics. 1: Effect of ascorbic acid and different levels of betaine. Anim. Health Prod. 2009; 41: 807–818. DOI: 10.1007/s11250-008-9256-9.
  8. Borges SA, Da Silva AVF, Majorka A, Hooge DM, Cummings KR. Physiological responses of broiler chicken to heat stress and electrolyte balance (sodium plus potassium minus chloride, milliequivalent per kilogram). Sci. 2004; 83 (9): 1551–1558. DOI: 10.1093/ps/83.9.1551
  9. Ciftci M, Ertas ON, Guler T. Effects of vitamin E and vitamin C dietary supplementation on egg production and egg quality of laying hens exposed to a chronic heat stress. Revue de Med. Vét. 2005; 156: 107–111.
  10. Croney CC, Newberry RC. Group size and cognitive processes. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2007; 103 (3–4): 215–228. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.05.023.
  11. Edens FW, Siegel HS. Modification of corticosterone and glucose responses by sympatholytic agents in young chickens during acute heat exposure. Sci. 1976; 55 (5): 1704–1712. DOI: 10.3382/ps.0551704.
  12. El-Lethey H, Aerni V, Jungi TW, Wechsler B. Stress and feather pecking in laying hens in relation to housing conditions. Poult. Sci. 2000; 41 (1): 22–28. DOI: 10.1080/00071660086358.
  13. Estevez I, Andersen IL, Nævdal E. Group size, density and social dynamics in farm animals. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2007; 103 (3–4): 185–204. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.05.025.
  14. Guo YY, Song ZG, Jiao HC, Song QQ, Lin H. The effect of group size and stocking density on the welfare and performance of hens housed in furnished cages during summer. Welfare. 2012; 21 (1): 41–49. DOI: 10.7120/096272812799129501.
  15. Guide to the content of the final hybrid Hy-Line W-36. 2019. 32 p. Available at: https://www.hyline.com/filesimages/hy-line-products/hy-line-product-pdfs/w-36/36%20com%20eng.pdf
  16. Hetland H, Moe RO, Tauson R, Lervik S, Svihus B. Effect of including whole oats into pellets on performance and plumage condition in laying henshoused in conventional and furnished cages. Acta Agriculturae Scand. A. 2004; 54: 206–212. DOI: 10.1080/09064700410010026.
  17. Kang HK, Park SB, Jeon JJ, Kim HS, Kim SH, Hong E, Kim CH. Effect of stocking density on laying performance, egg quality and blood parameters of Hy-Line Brown laying hens in an aviary system. Poult. Sci. 2018; 82. DOI: 10.1399/eps.2018.245.
  18. Kavtarashvili AS, Holubov SS. Determining the efficiency of poultry production by express methods. Modern Poult. Econ. 2013; 2 (123): 6–9. Available at: http://aviculture.agroua.net/rubrics.php?id_menu2=21&id_articles=411 (in Russian)
  19. Keeling LJ, Estevez I, Newberry RC, Correia MG. Production-related traits of layers reared in different sized flocks: The concept of problematic intermediate group sizes. Sci. 2003; 82 (9): 1393–1396. DOI: 10.1093/ps/82.9.1393.
  20. Khan R, Naz S, Nikousefat Z, Tufarelli V, Javdani M, Rana N, Laudadio V. Effect of vitamin E in heat-stressed poultry. Poult. Sci. J. 2011; 67 (3): 469–478. DOI: 10.1017/S0043933911000511.
  21. Kim YH, Kim J, Yoon HS, Choi YH. Effects of dietary corticosterone on yolk colors and eggshell quality in laying hens. Australas. J. Anim. Sci. 2015; 28 (6): 840–846. DOI: 10.5713/ajas.14.0849.
  22. Mashaly MM, Hendricks GL, Kalama MA, Gehad AE, Abbas AO, Patterson PH. Effect of heat stress on production parameters and immune responses of commercial laying hens. Sci. 2004; 83 (6): 889–894. DOI: 10.1093/ps/83.6.889.
  23. Moudgal RP, Razdan MN. In vitro studies on ovulatory mechanisms in the hen. Vet. Med. 1985; 32 (1–10): 179–186. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0442.1985.tb01932.x.
  24. Oguntunji AO, Alabi OM. Influence of high environmental temperature on egg production and shell quality: a review. Poult. Sci. J. 2010; 66 (4): 739–749. DOI: 10.1017/S004393391000070X.
  25. Rodenburg TB, Koene P. The impact of group size on damaging behaviours, aggression, fear and stress in farm animals. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2007; 103 (3–4): 205–214. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2006.05.024.
  26. Shimmura T, Azuma T, Eguchi Y, Uetake K, Tanaka T. Effects of separation of resources on behaviour, physical condition and production of laying hens in furnished cages. Poult. Sci. 2009; 50 (1): 39–46. DOI: 10.1080/00071660802613260.
  27. Surai P, Fisinin VI. The modern anti-stress technologies in poultry: from antioxidants to vitagenes. Biol. 2012; 4: 3–13. DOI: 10.15389/agrobiology.2012.4.3eng.
  28. Surai PF, Fotina TI. Physiological mechanisms of heat stress development in poultry industry. Breed. Today. 2013; 6: 54–60. (in Russian)
  29. Weitzenbürger D, Vits A, Hamann H, Distl O. Production, egg quality, bone strength, claw length, and keel bone deformities of laying hens housed in furnished cages with different group sizes. Sci. 2005; 84 (10): 1511–1519. DOI: 10.1093/ps/84.10.1511.
  30. Yakubu A, Salako AE, Ige OA. Effect of genotype and housing systems on the laying performance of chickens in different season in the semi-humid tropics. J. Poult. Sci. 2007; 6 (6). 434–439. DOI: 10.3923/ijps.2007.434.439.






WorldCat Logo