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.