Although welfare of laying hens improved after the abandonment of battery cages, other problems occurred such as collection of floor eggs. The aim of this research was to analyse impact on fear of hens and economic feasibility of an egg collecting robot.
Although welfare of laying hens improved after the abandonment of battery cages, other problems occurred such as collection of floor eggs. A robot that collects floor eggs could reduce the amount of necessary labour. The aim of this research was to analyse impact on fear of hens and economic feasibility of such a robot.
The fear reaction was studied in three compartments of an aviary poultry house during 2x5 days with a two days break in between by observing hens after introduction of a moving robot. Observations were performed on movement behaviours, distance to the robot, number of hens approaching whilst driving and the time it took for the hens to touch the robot whilst standing still.
The number of hens closer than 1m increased from 0.11 on day 1 to 3.26 on day 12 (p<0.001). The number of hens approaching the driving robot increased from 0.4 on day 1 to 1.9 on day 12 (p=0.00176). The time it took for the first hens to touch the robot decreased from 600 seconds on day one to 135 seconds on day 12 (p=0.043). Over time, hens walked more often but for shorter periods. In this test the robot drove in straight lines, in practise it will drive different paths every day. This might need more habituation. Overall it can be concluded that hens got used to the robot and fear decreased.
A cost benefit analysis was performed to indicate the break-even level (28,797 euro) and a sensitivity analysis was performed to indicate parameters with the highest impact on the break-even level: number of floor eggs, reduced labour time, labour costs and life of investment. These parameters need to be determined more accurate in order to obtain a more precise break-even level.
Student: NM Boots
Supervisors: dr ir E Bokkers (APS), B Vroegindeweij, MSc (FTE)