US researchers investigate perception of laying hens in cage-free housing

Significant differences were found between brown and white layers
calendar icon 26 April 2023
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USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation announced the completion of a funded research project at Purdue University in which researchers investigated how laying hens visually perceive the resources in cage-free housing. 

Dr. Darrin Karcher, Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and colleagues at Purdue University recently completed a research project that investigated how lighting systems can impact hens’ visual perception of their housing environment or of their conspecifics. 

Researchers were able to show that there were significant differences in the visual systems of brown and white chickens at all ages. Modelling also revealed that the visual environment is often homogeneous and undistinctive, except when highly colored objects are present, potentially increasing the risk of injury to the hens as they move through the aviary.

The research was made possible in part by an endowing Foundation gift from MPS Egg Farms and proceeds from the International Poultry Expo, part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The research is part of the Association’s comprehensive research program encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

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