MSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom
*Corresponding Author: Kirsty Mccalden, MSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom.
Received: April 17, 2020; Published: June 17, 2020
The aim of this study was to establish whether certain forms of acoustic enrichment improve settling behaviour in laying hens to a greater extent than others. Based on acoustic enrichments previously applied to captive animals, three acoustics were involved: classical music, white noise and radio. Due on previous findings, it was hypothesised that hens would display more settled (inactive) behaviour when exposed to classical music than when exposed to white noise or radio. It was also hypothesised that hens would display more settled (inactive) behaviour when exposed to white noise than to radio, due to its unpredictable nature. Testing involved one group of 15 laying hens in a Northern Ireland hen rescue centre. Hens were exposed to randomised acoustics (including a control) for 30 minutes, during four consecutive per week, for four consecutive weeks. Video observations were used to assess the level of active and inactive behaviour during exposure as well as overall settling time. No statistically significant results were found in three of four observed behaviours; perching, preening on the perch, lying/sitting on the perch. However, findings appeared to indicate less activity in hens during exposure to white noise, compared to classical music and radio. Therefore, the first hypothesis was rejected. In contrast to expectations, this study appeared to provide support for previous theories of species-specificity regarding classical music. A statistically significant result was found for standing behaviour on the perch which provided support for the second hypothesis. Post-hoc analysis indicated that a higher proportion of observed hens displayed standing behaviour during radio exposure, compared to the control (p = .012). This allowed the second hypothesis to be accepted as hens generally appeared to display less active behaviour overall during exposure to white noise, and statistically more active behaviour during radio exposure. Somewhat conflicting findings emerged in regards to overall setting. 80% of hens settled in a shorter time during radio exposure, than during exposure to white noise. This was also the case when measured at 90%. Although this finding was insignificant it highlights a need for further, more precise research.
Keywords: Feather Pecking (FP); Acoustic Enrichment; Sanctuary Hens
Citation: Kirsty Mccalden. “Assessing the Effectiveness of Acoustic Enrichment for ‘Settling’ Sanctuary Hens”.Acta Scientific Medical Sciences 2.7 (2020): 22-30.
Copyright: © 2020 Kirsty Mccalden. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.