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Effects of composted vegetable waste as soil medium in free-laying hens’ production systems on birds’ behaviour, soil structure, grass cover and nematode population.

This study compared bird behaviour, grass wear, soil structure and free-moving nematode populations in two different soil media within the range area of a free-range laying hen unit.

Year of Publication2010

This study compared bird behaviour, grass wear, soil structure and free-moving nematode populations in two different soil media (a mixture of 90% recycled composted vegetable waste and 10% sand or un-sterilised topsoil obtained from the same site) all with established grass swards within the range area of a free-range laying hen unit. When birds were first introduced to the fenced swards, they showed all behavioural elements with a higher frequencyof comfort elements in the compost plots (P < 0.05).Once the birds had prolonged access to the unfenced swards, they showed a clear preference to the compost plots (P < 0.05). The compost medium had better soil structure properties than topsoil medium (P < 0.05 or P < 0.001) with more and larger pores, making the soil well drained and aerated at 25% porosity. The compost-based soil media had the same count of nematodes per gram of dry soil compared to the topsoil-based media (P > 0.05). However, the rate of loss of grass from the subplots with the compost-based soil media was the greatest (P < 0.05) and this was probably due to birds’ preferences (P < 0.05) for these types of soil media. It was concluded that composted vegetable waste can be transformed into valuable added soil medium for free-range laying hens units and its use is in accordance to the health and behavioural needs of the birds.

Citation

Sossidou, E. N.; Rose, S. P.; Hall, N. W.; Tserveni-Goussia, A. (2010) "Effects of composted vegetable waste as soil medium in free-laying hens’ production systems on birds’ behaviour, soil structure, grass cover and nematode population."Archiv Für Geglügelkunde 74 (2) pp 81-86

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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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