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Improving Chicken Welfare

Published on April 09, 2013 by Penny Roberts in Chicken Care

I’ve always thought that my chickens were very content. They’ve got a lovely large area of grass to wander around in, get a balanced diet of food and nutrients, and of course have their spacious Henny Penny Manor House coop in which to lay their eggs and roost safely at night.

Egg productivity is pretty reasonable all in all, so I guess that’s one measure of their happiness. They also taste delicious, so that must be another. However, research carried out by the University of Bristol suggests that the wellbeing of barn chickens is increased if they have stimulation from activity objects such as perches and pecking blocks.

Leading UK supermarket, Morrisons, commissioned a study where 120,000 birds were observed from birth to determine whether the chickens appeared to be positively occupied, calm, bored, depressed, content or tense. Or in other words, to find out which measures made a genuine difference to the welfare of chickens.

The results showed that with activity objects, perches and daylight, chickens were more confident and active and have a greater wellbeing when able to live in housing that contains windows, perches and bedding.

When I designed the Henny Penny range of poultry housing I always had in mind that I would do my bit to re-home ex-battery hens. Because of that I wanted to ensure they had as comfortable and enriched environment as possible, not just because I believe it is good practice, but also because of the unpleasant experiences they would have previously endured. So all my chicken coops have good sized windows, perches and copious amounts of bedding.

Whilst my own girls are free range and seem highly content, I am going to give some thought to designing a few activity units. I’d really like it if anyone can share their experiences and/or ideas of what has worked well for you – please share your comments below!

Improving Chicken Welfare

Tags: Improving Chicken Welfare, chickens, hens, manor house, chicken coop

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