The aim of this study was to determine the ranging behaviour and dispersal patterns of layer hens on a commercial pastoral dairy farm. One thousand seven hundred and sixty layers housed across three different flocks varying in age and shed type were observed weekly. Their outdoor area was classified into three zones based on the distance from their shed. Hens in each zone were observed for one hour at dawn, midday and dusk. There was no effect of time of day on bird dispersal patterns, but when hens were outdoors, the effect of location was significant (P<0.001) with the majority (26.77%) of hens in the apron with the remaining visible hens observed in the outer range (21.99%) and mid-range (16.33%). In integrated pastoral systems with hens, management of hen excreta dispersal can be achieved through regular relocation of housing, feeders and water. Keywords: free-range; flock; location; zones; integrated farming system

SS, Smalling, B Greig, C Bunt, J Tanner, and RH Bryant

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 81, Online, 54-56, 2021
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