Of all the highly-evolved skills that chickens can be said to have, flying’s not one of them. So although those concerned with animal-welfare will no-doubt welcome moves (afoot in some quarters) to provide more space for egg-laying hens, some have noted that :
“This larger, more complex environment permits expression of behaviors not seen in space-limited cages, such as flight.”
And so unfortunately, because hens are not very competent at flying there is an inevitable downside – crash landings. A new study in the journal Poultry Science makes progress towards quantifying the numbers of failed landings (which can cause bruising and in some cases broken bones). The first of the flocks under scrutiny crash landed 9.1% of the time, and in flock two a whopping 21% failed. The crashing hens tended to slip over on the ground, bump into others, or misjudge their perches.
See: ‘Failed landings after laying hen flight in a commercial aviary over two flock cycles’
Note: A previous experimental study, from Michigan State University had found that:
“Hens jumping from heights of 41 and 61 cm were found to land with an average force of 81.0 ± 2.7 N and 106.9 ± 2.6 N, respectively, assuming zero initial velocity (P < 0.001).”
Note: The photo shows Professor Janice Siegford of the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University, who participated in both studies.