Identifying developmental determinants of successful behavioural adaptation and musculoskeletal health of egg-laying hens


Principal Investigator

Tina Widowski, University of Guelph; Karen Schwean-Lardner, University of Saskatchewan; Bettina Willie, McGill University

Year the work was done

2018-2023

Overall objective

  • Advance understanding of the bone biology of laying hens and identify practices for housing and managing of different strains of pullets that result in a successful adaptation to a complex housing environment and a healthy hen to end-of-lay.

Specific objectives

  • Compare the effects of different styles of commercial rearing aviaries on activity patterns, locomotory abilities, behavioural characteristics and musculoskeletal development of different strains of pullets.
  • Determine the effect of light intensity on activity patterns, locomotory abilities, behavioural characteristics and musculoskeletal development of different strains of pullets housed in a non-cage system.
  • Determine the effect of transitioning between different housing systems on wing muscle strength, keel bone fracture, energetic costs of locomotion and injury, and fear of injury.
  • Observe the effects of age, strain, exercise and circadian rhythm on skeletal mechano-responsiveness, calcium homeostasis and bone quality.

This research applies to

Layers

This research was supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Poultry Research Council, Egg Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, Quebec Federation of Egg Producers, Clark's Poultry and Shriner's Hospital for Children Canada.