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Results of the Animal Needs Index (ANI-35L) compared to animal-based parameters in free-range and organic laying hen flocks in Austria

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Abstract:

The aim of this study was a comparison of Animal Needs Index (ANI) data, derived from annual inspections by a control agency, with data collected from 164 selected on-farm flocks concerning feather damage, injuries, egg production, mortality, bodyweight, foot pad dermatitis, keel bone deviations and reactions towards humans (eg flock showed marked avoidance when the observer walked through the hen-house [yes/no]).

Analysis of data showed a low number of significant correlations with total ANI scores and category scores: 1) Locomotion, 2) Social interaction, 3) Flooring, 4) Light, air and noise and 5) Stockmanship. Correlations found were low and total ANI score showed only a positive correlation with egg production at week 52. Category 3 scores correlated positively with egg production at week 70 and negatively with the percentage of hens with featherless areas and total pecking injuries. Category 5 scores showed positive correlations with egg production at week 52 as well as week 70 and negative correlations with mortality at week 52, the percentage of hens with featherless areas, pecking injuries < 0.5 cm and total pecking injuries.

Flocks showing marked avoidance had a lower total ANI score and lower category 3 and category 5 scores.

In conclusion, welfare-related animal-based parameters are poorly reflected by the ANI-35-L/2001. To assess animal welfare more adequately, animal-based parameters have to be considered additionally in a welfare assessment scheme.

Keywords: ANIMAL HEALTH; ANIMAL NEEDS INDEX (ANI); ANIMAL WELFARE; ANIMAL-BASED PARAMETERS; LAYING HEN; ON-FARM WELFARE ASSESSMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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