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Effect of litter quality and parasite load on physiological behaviour of laying hens in Saxon poultry farms

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Sächsisches Staatsministerium für Energie, Klimaschutz, Umwelt und Landwirtschaft

Federal State



Postfach 10 05 101
01076 Dresden

Website: External link to the authority

Project Title

Effect of litter quality and parasite load on physiological behaviour of laying hens in Saxon poultry farms

Project description

This project aims to answer the following questions:

  1. Is infrared thermography (IRT) - as a non-invasive method of individual animal assessment - a suitable tool for supplementing and extending classical plumage scoring systems with regard to early detection and improved objectivity in practice?

  2. Are the litter quality and its change over time during the laying period useful indicators for assessing the risk of feather pecking and cannibalism in herds of laying hens?

  3. Does the parasite load (endo- and ectoparasites) play a role as a risk factor for feather pecking and cannibalism?

To evaluate these questions under practical conditions, data on integument condition (plumage score, pecking injuries, etc.) and biological performance of the laying hens as well as faecal, litter, feed, and water samples will be collected on Saxon farms. The results will provide the basis for a consulting and management concept that takes into account the regional characteristics of Saxon laying hen farms and transfers the findings to the practice.

Status of the report

2022-06-09 14:53:49

Results focusing on practiceorientation

IRT is well suited for objective quantification of plumage loss, but is not sufficiently accurate for early detection. There is a demonstrable effect on the prevalence of plumage loss for several litter characteristics. Statistically, there is no significant effect of endoparasite load on plumage loss in hens. However, infestation with the red bird mite as the most significant ectoparasite correlates significantly with the prevalence of plumage damage. As secondary results, influences of pullet quality and feed condition on the occurrence of behavioral disorders were found.

Key words

Animal husbandry

Main funding source

Rural development 2014-2020 for Operational Groups (in the sense of Art 56 of Reg.1305/2013)

OG contact information

Zentrum für angewandte Forschung und Technologie e.V.
Friedrich-Liszt-Platz 1
01069 Dresden

Phone: 0351-462 3036

Email: markus.freick@htw-dresden.de

Type of OG partners

  • Farmer
  • Farmer
  • Farmer

Begin of project


Project status


Total budget applied for in EUR


Link 1



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