Behaviour 2019
Do animal-mounted sensors impact hens’ movements in aviaries?
Maja M. Makagon, Rebecca K. Moore, Allison N. Pullin, Richard A. Blatchford. University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States

Whereas the use of animal mounted sensors in poultry research has become widespread, few studies have explored the impacts of hen-mounted sensors on the behavior of hens. We hypothesized that the quantity and quality of vertical transitions made by hens housed in multi-tiered aviaries would decline with increasing sensor weight, and that hens would habituate to the sensor weights with time. Thirty Dekalb White hens were housed across 3 pens furnished with four-level aviary structures. Hens were assigned to five treatment groups: four sensor weight groups ranging from 3.3 to 7 % of the hen’s bodyweight (BW) or a no-sensor control group. Hen behavior was evaluated 1, 6, and 12 days after sensors were fitted (continuous sampling, 3hrs/day). Data were analyzed using generalized linear mixed effects models in R. The number of transitions made per hen was not impacted by day, but tended to be higher among control hens than those wearing sensors (p=0.066). Sensor treatment did not impact the quality of the transitions. Across treatments the quality of the movement improved between day 1 and day 12 (p=0.044). Hens acclimated to the presence of sensors up to 7% of their BW.