Five catching methods were compared in terms of their effect on the proportion of battery hens which had bones broken when they were removed from battery cages. In addition the effect of tier, lighting intensity during lay and lighting intensity during handling on the prevalence of fractures at catching and on old fractures which occurred during lay was evaluated. Catching and removing hens by one leg from the cages resulted in 11 to 14 per cent of the birds acquiring a broken bone, whereas catching and removing each bird by two legs resulted in 5 per cent of the birds acquiring a freshly broken bone. Removing more than one bird at a time from the cage tended to cause more skeletal damage than removing them individually, and incorporating a wooden breast support slide over the feed trough had no effect on the prevalence of broken bones. Catching birds in the top tier of a three-tiered battery unit was more difficult than for the middle or bottom tiers. When the light intensity at catching was the same as that during lay birds were more difficult to catch than when the light intensity was changed, but the effects were insufficient to affect the prevalence of damage to the skeleton.
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