Mothers can influence the behaviour and physiology of their young even before hatch. In birds that occurs through the deposition of hormones and nutrients into the egg. Mother-hens can be housed in various systems that offer different challenges to the bird. Our project will investigate how housing a mother-hen can affect the resilience of their offspring. This data can be used to improve farm practices and to decrease the occurrence of behaviour and welfare issues in egg production.
Feather pecking (FP) in egg-laying hens, where individuals peck at other birds to pull out and eat their feathers, is a challenge for the sector with large economic and welfare implications. It is especially of concern in systems where birds are housed in large social groups as it is harder to control.
With new policies in Canada leading to the transition from conventional cage to alternative housing systems, it becomes imperative to reduce the risk of large scale FP outbreaks.
Feather pecking (FP) in egg-laying hens, where individuals peck repetitively and excessively at other birds to pull out and eat their feathers, is a challenge for the industry with large economic and welfare implications. High prevalence of FP is reported (60-80%) and this is associated with mortality rates of up to 20-40%, which translates to hundreds of millions of birds dying due to FP every year.
In 2011, Statistics Canada reported that women comprised only 25% of total farmer numbers. At the same time, an aging male farmer population is causing concern that if the farming sector does not broaden its appeal among women, there will be significant economic implications for its future development. The Egg Farmers of Canada wants to encourage more women to take up egg farming and support existing female producers in their leadership goals, but more knowledge about the systemic reasons for womens limited participation in the industry is needed.
The chicken egg represents an excellent source of nutrients, and the composition of the egg yolk can further be enhanced through modifications to the laying hen diet. While enhanced shell eggs are primarily sold as specialty eggs, an opportunity exists to add further value through the use of novel extraction technologies. The proposed research project will combine existing expertise in egg yolk enhancement with expertise in liquid/protein processing and extraction techniques.
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