I attended a breeder training school recently and among the topics examined was encouraging birds to lay in nesting boxes. The benefits of ensuring eggs were kept clean and keeping egg damage and labor to a minimum were explained, and various suggestions made for encouraging birds into nests.

It was a great couple of days and I learned a lot.

The impact of music on lay, however, or what layers may prefer to listen to, was not discussed.  

But anyone who thinks their layer flock may benefit from a little more sensory stimulation is being offered a new tool via a free download

Encouragement into nests

Research conducted by the University of Bristol in the UK, commissioned by the happy egg co., has revealed that all types of music intrigue hens. Over the course the study, the hens entered the nest boxes 159 percent more frequently during weeks when music was playing than they did during quieter weeks when no music was played

The study revealed that all types of music intrigue hens. Over the two-month study, hens were exposed to pop, rock and classical music by artists including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Queen, Bach and Mozart, and their reactions and behaviors were monitored.

Keep Lady Gaga out!

Hens showed a preference for nest boxes playing Beethoven, Bach and Mozart over those broadcasting Lady Gaga and One Direction. Although there was no overall increase in egg production, hens did switch nest boxes to favor those playing classical music. Notorious for wearing a raw meat costume, perhaps Lady Gaga should not be allowed anywhere near your layer flocks!

According to Isabelle Pettersson, a University of Bristol researcher, the study found that chickens have the ability not only to hear music but to discriminate between different genres, as shown by the fact that some of the birds switched nest boxes, choosing to lay to the accompaniment of classical and not popular music.

The happy egg co. has released an album to “boost hen happiness, relaxation and productivity,” which can be downloaded free of charge.

Previous, perhaps more scientific, studies have shown that stress levels rise when hens are exposed to particularly loud music, and drop when they are exposed to classical music, and last year an egg farmer in New Zealand claimed that his hens laid larger eggs when exposed to classical music.

Whether it is worth the expense of installing individual speakers in nesting boxes is another matter, but for the happy egg co., the study provides yet one more way to grab consumer attention. It did mine!

Mark Clements can be reached at mclements@wattnet.net