Changes in module drawer temperature and relative humidity were monitored for 24 commercial loads of hens. Mathematical models revealed significant differences in predicted drawer temperature depending on their location and the outside environmental temperature. Higher predicted temperatures were found in uppermost drawers of the top modules at the front of the lorry, and lower temperatures in drawers on the outer sides of modules and in those drawers in modules next to the back of the lorry in both the upper and lower modules during transport. In the lairage, drawer temperature generally decreased, except in drawers at the top of modules where temperatures increased. Temperature increases were most often recorded in modules which had been located at the rear of the lorry, which were generally cooler during transport. End-of-lay hens would appear to be exposed to a greater risk of cold stress rather than heat stress in the UK. Inspection of birds during transport, or upon arrival, should be directed to the bottom and side drawers of a load when looking for cold stress, and the top row of drawers (centre) of the top modules when looking for heat stress. The frequency of inspections should increase at times of high ambient temperature while the birds are being held in lairages. Adjusting the numbers of birds loaded per drawer according to bird condition and weather appears to be an effective mitigation strategy which is already in use commercially.
- Accepted September 7, 2012.
- British Veterinary Association