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The use of novel technologies to better understand perching biomechanics and keel bone damage in enriched housed laying hens

2022 CPRF,Behaviour & Welfare
Due to shifting industry standards, understanding the impacts of enriched housing on layer hen welfare has become vitally important. Keel bone damage (KBD) is a prevalent welfare concern, that has numerous potential causes. While already a notable concern in traditional housing systems, there has been a noticeable increase in enriched housing systems. A potential culprit of the increased incidence of KBD is the opportunity to perch. However, not all birds perch the same and we believe this has an important impact on the prevalence of keel bone damage. There are two main objectives for this trial: To discover what perching phenotypes are associated with better foot and keel health as well as stronger bones. Using 3D kinematics to assess the biomechanics of perching behaviour in pullets and laying hens. We hypothesize that specific perching behaviours contribute to KBD in laying hens. This study will utilize a variety of novel techniques including: 3D kinematics, infrared thermography and DXA imaging. Vicon Nexus cameras are near infrared stroboscopic cameras that pick-up reflections from markers placed at skeletal landmarks. These recordings will provide us with information about balance, movement, joint angles and stability while laying hens perch. The hens will then have their footpads assessed using infrared thermography to detect pressure points. We will perform dissections to assess keel bones for fractures and indicators such as notching and deviations. In trial one we will compare 4 commercial and 2 heritage strains, that are raised without perches to give us a baseline on innate perching behaviour. We will use both round and mushroom perches for recordings at 18, 29 & 70 weeks. Our research pertaining to perches and their impact on behaviour, keel bone and foot pad health are of particular interest to future revisions of the Layer Code of Practice. Utilizing new methods such as 3D kinematics in our research will allow for the further application of this technology within the field of animal agriculture research. These types of applications are cutting edge and have the potential to be revolutionary in the egg-laying industry and others.
Tags :
bone health,keel damage,perching biomechanics
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Presenter

MSc Student

University of Alberta

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