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Forskningsartikel2023Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Easier said than done! Organic farmers consider free-ranging important for laying hen welfare but outdoor areas need more shelter - important gaps between research and practice

Goeransson, L.; Abeyesinghe, S.; Gunnarsson, S.; Yngvesson, J.


1. The aim of the present study was to investigate the design and management of free-range areas and their use by birds on commercial organic laying hen farms in Sweden and to document farmers' perspectives on outdoor access for poultry.2. Eleven Swedish organic laying hen farms were visited. The farmers were interviewed about general farm management, bird health and behaviour and outdoor access. The free-range areas were assessed in terms of proportion covered by protective (high) vegetation and any artificial shelters provided. The numbers of hens ranging at different distances from the house were recorded twice during the day.3. The outdoor area within 250m from the house contained 0-5% vegetation cover on six of the farms and at least 80% pasture on seven farms. On 10 farms, no more than 13% of the flock was observed outdoors. Of the hens observed in the free-range area, the median proportion ranging within 20m from the house or veranda per observation event was 99% (IQR=55-100%), confirming reports by the farmers.4. Free-range access was considered important by all farmers, primarily for welfare reasons and most agreed that protective vegetation cover and/or artificial shelters were important in encouraging free-ranging. However, there was marked variation among the farmers in their suggestions on how to attract hens outside.


Animal welfare; poultry; vegetation; artificial shelter; predation; >

Publicerad i

British Poultry Science
2023, Volym: 64, nummer: 5, sidor: 544-551