Data_Making the most of life

Published: 13 May 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/wczdpy85k3.1
Lena Skånberg


Early experiences could enhance an individual’s potential to make the most of future opportunities by promoting exploration, learning ability and spatial skills. These traits would help laying hens adapt when transferred to adult laying facilities, especially complex aviary systems. The aims of this study were (1) to determine if access to multiple litter and perch types during rearing would promote use of novel space and resources in the long term, and (2) to investigate the importance of age, and so timing during development, when increased environmental choices are made available. Laying hen chicks were kept in either a “Single-choice” (one litter and perch type) or a “Multi-choice” environment (four litter and perch types) during “Early” (day 1-week 4) and “Late” rearing (week 5-15). The environments were switched in half of the 16 pens at week 5, resulting in a 2 x 2 factorial design with four treatment combinations. At week 16, all groups were moved to standard pens in a laying house. Birds ability to take opportunities were evaluated by measuring laying hen responses to different sources of novelty around relevant resources that they are likely to encounter under commercial conditions at relevant ages; tests involving novel feed, novel pen, nests, novel litter materials and novel outdoor range. Effects of the Early rearing environment and Late rearing environment were investigated in a multi-model, allowing to pick up effects due to one of the periods along with the interaction, i.e. the full rearing environment. The results arisen from this data support the hypothesis that access to environments that offer multiple choice during the rearing period improves hens’ ability to make the most of new opportunities by being quicker to explore and exploit novel resources and rewards, although these outcomes are affected by the timing when environmental choice is available. As a conclusion, environmental choice should be provided during the whole rearing period in order to better prepare birds for future opportunities. The folder includes the full data sets with the behavioural responses of laying hens in the different opportunity tests, along with the R-codes used for the statistical analysis.



Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet


Animal Welfare, Poultry Behavior, Animal Husbandry Influence on Behavior, Ethology, Behavioral Flexibility