Lasers to guard organic hens from bird flu

An organic egg farm in England has set up a novel method of protecting its hens from bird flu allowing them to stay outdoors.

Orchard Eggs based in West Sussex has taken advantage of the latest laser technology available from a Dutch company in order to scare off wild migratory birds and prevent them mixing with the farm’s chickens. As the British government recently extended the avian influenza (bird flu) prevention zone to April 2017, it also raised the biosecurity requirements poultry farmers must adhere to if they want to keep their birds outdoors. Orchard Eggs, owned by young Dutch couple Karen and Daniel Hoeberichts, said once they heard of the new laser technology steps were taken to set it up to complement the farm’s other biosecurity measures.

Read more. (Original article by Chris McCullough, 2017. Poultry Farm Sets Up Lasers to Guard its Organic Hens from Bird Flu – The Poultry Site).

HenHub newsletter

We are about to start distributing the HenHub newsletter. The plan is to send the newsletter with news items collected as published in posts on the HenHub on a monthly basis.

In addition to our collection of news items, the HenHub website contains information about the topics feather pecking and end-of-lay of laying hens.

HenHub is part of the Hennovation project, which has its own hennovelties newsletter.

You may submit potential news items for the HenHub newsletter to Marc . Bracke [At]


German manual and research links on feather pecking

Some good manuals on how to prevent feather pecking in laying hens are available in the German language.

• LWK Niedersachsen (2016) Managementleitfaden – Minimierung von Federpicken und Kannibalismus bei Legehennen mit intaktem Schnabel

• Empfehlungen für die Aufzucht von Junghennen-Kurzfassung 1 Stand: 17.02.2015

For those who want to know more about German research on prevention of featherpecking, please check out these links: Niedersachsen and BMEL.

Probiotics may help in dealing with feather pecking

Beak trimming is commonly used to reduce the incidence of feather pecking but this practice is more and more under discussion and banned in several EU countries. The side effects of non-trimmed beaks is an increased feed intake, as the birds have less plumage to keep them warm. Probiotics can be part of the solution.

Laying hens provided with Bacillus subtilis showed better performance (egg weight, egg mass & FCR) in the early stages of production, and persistent larger eggs over the whole period, without negative impact on feed conversion, hen weight and egg shell quality.

See full article by Pauline Rovers-Paap, Orffa Additives in Poultry World, Feb 20 here.

Rearing on litter and enrichment reduces fearfulness in adult laying hens

Access to litter during rearing and environmental enrichment during production reduce fearfulness in adult laying hens
By Margrethe Brantsæter, Fernanda M. Tahamtani, Janicke Nordgreen, Ellen Sandberg, Tone Beate Hansen, T.Bas Rodenburg, Randi Oppermann Moe, Andrew Michael Janczak. 2016. Applied Animal Behaviour Science


Exaggerated fear-reactions are associated with injurious flying, smothering, feather pecking and other events that compromise animal welfare in laying hens. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that chicks with access to litter during the first five weeks of life would be less fearful as adult hens compared to birds reared without access to litter. The hypothesis was tested in a national on-farm study in commercial aviary flocks in Norway. Five rearing farmers divided the pullets into two groups within their rearing houses. While the chicks were enclosed inside the aviary rows during the first five weeks of life, paper substrate where food and other particles could accumulate, covered the wire mesh floor in the treatment group, whereas the control group was reared on bare wire mesh. At 30 weeks of age, 23 aviary flocks (11 control flocks reared without paper and 12 treatment flocks reared with paper) were visited. During the visit, the fearfulness of the adult birds was tested in a stationary person test and a novel object test. The data was analysed by ANOVA or logistic regression as appropriate. The access to litter during rearing did not influence the number of birds that approached within 25cm of the stationary person (p =0.51). All flocks, regardless of rearing treatment, had birds which came within 2m of the stationary person. The latency to approach within 2m of the stationary person tended to be influenced by provision of environmental enrichment as adults (p =0.08) and by the interaction between treatment×rearing farm (p =0.08). The number of birds that approached within 2m of the stationary person was influenced by the interaction between treatment during rearing and provision of enrichment as adults (p =0.03), however, the post hoc test showed no pairwise differences. All flocks, regardless of rearing treatment, had birds that approached the novel object. The access to litter during rearing did not influence the birds’ latency to approach the novel object. The number of birds approaching the novel object was affected by the interaction between access to substrate during rearing and provision of environmental enrichment as adults (p =0.05). The results indicate that both adding paper substrate to chicks from the first day of life and environmental enrichment as adults, reduce fearfulness in laying hens.


From beak to tail – Meeting announcement

From beak to tail – mechanisms underlying damaging behaviour in laying hens and pigs

First Announcement
ISAE 2017 Satellite Meeting
Monday 7th August 2017,
University of Aarhus, Denmark

A one-day meeting, organized jointly by the FareWellDock – Network and the GroupHouseNet COST-action aims to bring together researchers working within the field of damaging behaviour in both pigs and poultry. By joining efforts on an interspecies level, we have the opportunity to greatly enhance the understanding of the mechanisms underlying tail biting and feather pecking. Both behaviours are challenging, from an animal welfare and from an economic point-of-view, while in several countries, as well as at the EU level, the ethical justification of tail docking and beak trimming is currently being debated.

This full-day meeting will be held at the ISAE 2017 congress venue on August 7th, 2017, starting at 9am.

The meeting will focus on the following main themes:

– Mechanisms underlying the link between health and damaging behaviour

– Predisposing factors for damaging behaviour during early development

Both themes will be introduced by invited experts, followed by short research presentations by participants, and then elaborated on in inter-species discussion groups.

In addition, the program will include a networking session, with the aim to facilitate knowledge exchange and future cooperation between researchers working on damaging behaviour in pigs and poultry.

The registration for the meeting will open by the end of February 2017, and will be open until May 15th, 2017. The meeting participation is limited to 80 persons, so make sure to register in time!

For further information, please contact anna . valros [AT] helsinki . fi.

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