Health and welfare in Dutch organic laying hens

Monique Bestman*, Jan Paul Wagenaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


From 2007-2008, data on animal health and welfare and farm management during rearing and laying periods were collected from 49 flocks of organic laying hens in the Netherlands. Our aim was to investigate how organic egg farms performed in terms of animal health and welfare and which farm factors affected this performance. The flocks in our study were kept on farms with 34 to 25,000 hens (average 9,300 hens). Seventy-one percent of the flocks consisted of 'silver hybrids': white hens that lay brown eggs. Fifty-five percent of the flocks were kept in floor-based housing and 45% of the flocks in aviaries. No relation was found between the amount of time spent outdoors during the laying period and mortality at 60 weeks. Flocks that used their outdoor run more intensively had better feather scores. In 40% of the flocks there was mortality caused by predators. The average feed intake was 129 g/day at 30 weeks and 133 g/day at 60 weeks of age. The average percentage of mislaid eggs decreased from three at 30 weeks to two at 60 weeks. The average mortality was 7.8% at 60 weeks. Twenty-five percent of the flocks were not treated for worms in their first 50 weeks. Flubenol

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-390
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Comb color
  • Feather pecking
  • Foot sole lesions
  • Free range
  • Keel bone deformations
  • Mortality
  • Organic
  • Poultry health
  • Poultry welfare
  • Vent pecking


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