Foot pad health, plumage condition, integument and claw length of Lohmann Silver laying hens kept in small aviary housing systems, furnished cages and an aviary housing system
Abstract. In the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th laying month, foot pad health, plumage condition, integument and claw length were evaluated in 432 Lohmann Silver laying hens kept in three different housing systems: a small aviary housing system (Eurovent 625a-EU, EV) with different perch levels, a furnished cage system (Aviplus, AP) and an aviary (Voliere Natura, AV). Foot health was scored for hyperkeratosis and lesions on a scale from 1 (normal) to 5 or 4 (severe). Plumage condition was assessed with scores from 1 (worst) to 4 (best) for different body regions. Integument was assessed for lesions and claw length of the middle toe was measured. Mild foot pad hyperkeratosis was the most frequent finding in hens of all housing systems. Sole pad hyperkeratosis was less frequent in AP and occurred more often in EV and AV. Significantly more often hyperkeratosis in the region between toe and claw was observed in AP. Toe pad lesions and lesions between toe and claw were scored lowest in AV and highest in AP. An aggravation of plumage in the course of the laying period was observed in all hens. Hens showed a significantly better total plumage condition in AP compared to EV. Within housing system, group size had a significant influence on plumage condition. Plumage was better in smaller groups. Lesions of the integument were rarely detected. Claws were significantly shortest in AP, longer in AV and longest in EV. Perch design in EV was not significant for all traits except for comp lesions.