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Effects of paddock management on vegetation, nutrient accumulation, and internal parasites in laying hens


Maurer, V; Hertzberg, H; Heckendorn, F; Hördegen, P; Koller, M (2013). Effects of paddock management on vegetation, nutrient accumulation, and internal parasites in laying hens. The Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 22(2):334-343.

Abstract

Management of paddocks for free-range layers requires an effort from farmers to minimize the adverse effects of these systems on animal health (e.g., parasites) and environment (e.g., nutrient accumulation and leaching). In this study, we report results from 2 on-farm experiments conducted to investigate (1) the effects of rotational versus continuous use of the paddocks and (2) the effects of wood chips in the area close to the pop holes (openings to the paddock) with regard to turf quality, nutrient load in the soil, and parasite infections. Rotational use of the hen paddocks led to a lower proportion of bare soil close to the house, but not in more distant regions. Covering the area in front of the house with wood chips did not reduce bare areas. Nitrogen and phosphorous contents in soil were similar in permanently and rotationally used paddocks; they were usually higher close to the house than in distant regions. Neither nutrient accumulated over the observation period. There was no significant effect of the 2 management regimens on worm burdens (Ascaridia galli, Heterakis gallinarum, Capillaria spp.) at the end of the laying period. Fecal egg counts were significantly reduced on rotationally used paddocks and (in 3 of 4 cases) on paddocks with wood chips in the area close to the pop holes compared with unmanaged paddocks. Based on the positive effects on turf quality, manageability, and helminth egg excretion, we recommend rotational paddock management and a permanently used, small all-weather run covered with wood chips or gravel for free-range layer flocks.

Abstract

Management of paddocks for free-range layers requires an effort from farmers to minimize the adverse effects of these systems on animal health (e.g., parasites) and environment (e.g., nutrient accumulation and leaching). In this study, we report results from 2 on-farm experiments conducted to investigate (1) the effects of rotational versus continuous use of the paddocks and (2) the effects of wood chips in the area close to the pop holes (openings to the paddock) with regard to turf quality, nutrient load in the soil, and parasite infections. Rotational use of the hen paddocks led to a lower proportion of bare soil close to the house, but not in more distant regions. Covering the area in front of the house with wood chips did not reduce bare areas. Nitrogen and phosphorous contents in soil were similar in permanently and rotationally used paddocks; they were usually higher close to the house than in distant regions. Neither nutrient accumulated over the observation period. There was no significant effect of the 2 management regimens on worm burdens (Ascaridia galli, Heterakis gallinarum, Capillaria spp.) at the end of the laying period. Fecal egg counts were significantly reduced on rotationally used paddocks and (in 3 of 4 cases) on paddocks with wood chips in the area close to the pop holes compared with unmanaged paddocks. Based on the positive effects on turf quality, manageability, and helminth egg excretion, we recommend rotational paddock management and a permanently used, small all-weather run covered with wood chips or gravel for free-range layer flocks.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Parasitology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Parasitology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
600 Technology
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:05 Jul 2013 09:22
Last Modified:22 Nov 2017 06:56
Publisher:Poultry Science Association Inc.
ISSN:1056-6171
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3382/japr.2012-00586

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