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Allowing birds enough space to express natural behaviors and peacefully coexist is essential to avoiding aggression. | Courtesy Salmet
on July 18, 2017

Reducing aggression and floor eggs in cage-free flocks

Cage-free egg farming experts suggest ways to avoid negative behaviors that reduce bird health and productivity.

With more egg producers switching to cage-free production, farmers now need to understand and manage the dynamics of hen socialization and behavior in order to consistently achieve the healthiest and most productive flocks.

Read the entire report about recucing aggression and floor eggs in cage-free flocks exclusively in the July issue of Egg Industry.

Keeping birds in cages limited activity and allowed the establishment of a social hierarchy inside the cage. Now, birds are free to interact with a larger group and are exposed to a wider range of conditions, which can cause antisocial behavior and lead to lower productivity. Bird experts say the transition requires farmers to spend more time observing the flock’s behavior, understand what conditions are causing negative behaviors, and make the necessary adjustments to the environment.

Egg farmers are faced with three key behavior challenges: hens laying eggs outside of the nest, hens piling in one area or smothering one another, and generally aggressive behavior.

These negative behaviors often don’t manifest, or can’t be observed and understood, when walking the house during routine management. Farmers need to sit and watch for a few minutes to see how the birds behave and interact on their own. That way, farmers can better understand the specific challenges, what in the environment may be causing them, and how they can change the conditions to control them.

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