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Breeding to respond to housing conditions

From January 2012, new EU welfare legislation on keeping commercial layers will be effective. This means that in the member states hens may no longer be kept in traditional cages. As a result, an increasing number of layers are being kept under free range conditions, such as in aviary systems.

Breeding companies, like Lohmann Tierzucht have responded to this EU-wide cage ban. They started selecting for traits on nesting behavior whereby the hens easily find their way to a nest to lay their egg. Together with the Bavarian State Research Centre in Germany, LTZ developed a funnel nest, allowing them to individually select birds for this desired trait.

The relevance of nest acceptance, oviposition time and duration of stay in the nest, were measured and captured. All these data served as parameters in the breeding programme and eventually determined selection decisions.

As a result, strains that are meeting the demand to be kept in aviary housing systems are available now.

A full article on this topic will be published in the nr. 8 edition of World Poultry of 2011.

Related website
Lohmann Tierzucht

Editor WorldPoultry

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    Studies on BEHAVIOURAL GENETICS are very scarce. Since qualitative traits are moderately to highly heritable in general,the study envisaged here should yield good response. Since restriction on cage rearing is just in vogue esp. in European countries, range system of management is welcome. It should be ensured that the performance on range should be on par with confined rearing. Strict data collection to raise pedigreed lines for production of GP and Parents for commercial production is a must. Protection from predators requires utmost attention besides other several factors.

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