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Hens love outdoor foraging

Outdoor foraging is hot stuff for hens. And it turns out that high-yielding outdoor hens literally stuff themselves with plants, insects and other delicacies.

High-yielding, egg-laying hens can eat large quantities of plant material and other outdoor food items, according to a Ph.D. project by scientist Klaus Horsted.

- Foraging in a cultivated outdoor area can be an important source of nutrients to the hens, says Klaus Horsted. The type of supplementary feed and crop provided has a significant effect on what and how much hens eat from a cropped outdoor area, he explains. Hens on a nutrient-poor supplementary feed have a higher intake of plant material and have different food preferences compared with hens that have their nutrient requirements met by the feed supplement.

Measurements of egg quality and productivity indicate that chicory is particularly valuable in a forage-based feed system. It is possible to reduce the amount of essential nutrients in the supplementary feed, if sufficient feed is available in the outdoor area and the system otherwise supports good welfare.

For further information please contact:
Scientist Klaus Horsted, Department of Agroecology, Research Centre Foulum, telephone: +45 8999 1286, e-mail: [email protected]

Monday 18 December 2006 | Communication Unit