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Br Poult Sci. 2004 Dec;45(6):745-52.

Effects of housing system (outdoor vs cages) and age of laying hens on egg characteristics.

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  • 1Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


1. Effects of two housing systems (cages vs outdoor) on external and internal egg characteristics were investigated. 2. In total 785 eggs from three different lines in cages and 268 eggs from outdoor-housed layers were examined for egg weight, albumen, yolk and shell content, albumen height and pH, and albumen and yolk dry matter content. 3. Interactions between layer age and housing systems were found for egg weight, eggshell content, albumen height, albumen pH, and dry matter content of the albumen and yolk. This was mainly due to the greater variation with age in the outdoor layers, compared to the caged layers. 4. Irrespective of age eggs from outdoor layers were relatively broader than eggs from the caged layers. Yolk colour was considerably darker in the outdoor group (11.0 vs 9.3). 5. We concluded that it is more difficult to maintain constant external and internal egg quality in an outdoor housing system than in a battery cage system. Factors that determine the greater fluctuations in internal egg quality need to be investigated.

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