New Gentler Line of Laying Hens Developed

US - A line of less aggressive laying hens that produce eggs to industry standard has been developed by a team of Agriculture Research Service (ARS) scientists. As a result of this development, the researchers also cut mortality losses among the birds without the usual beak trimming.
calendar icon 9 September 2009
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ARS documentation shows the selected line of hens had significantly lower annual mortality at 58 weeks of age than the control group and a commercial line of laying hens. When housed in communal cages, the more gentle line had a 20 per cent mortality rate compared to 54 per cent for the control ine and 89 per cent for the commercial line.

According to the National Institute of Animal Agriculture, under the same conditions, egg production was increased in the kinder birds compared to the control group and the commercial line.

In designing their research project, ARS biologist Heng-wei Cheng and his team selected birds based on production traits as well as competitive interactions among the birds in a communal setting. This selection program shifted from "survival of the fittest" that emphasizes the individual to "survival of the adequate" that emphasizes the group.

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