Off to the Right Start: Long term benefits of exercise for bone health


Hen health is an important consideration for egg farmers as different challenges can arise during the life of a hen. Healthy bones are particularly important for ensuring hens stay strong, especially since osteoporosis and keel fractures can be significant challenges for hens in all types of housing systems. To address such bone health challenges, recent research by Dr. Tina Widowski explored the effects of exercise in pullet rearing.

Dr. Widowski’s research showed that providing hens with opportunities for exercise in a rearing aviary environment increases bone health and muscle mass in pullets, with added lifelong bone health benefits for adult laying hens.

Presented by Egg Farmers of Canada. This webinar took place on May 30, 2017, from 12-1pm EST. Watch the full webinar below!

About the researcher

Tina Widowski is a professor at the University of Guelph, and holds the Egg Farmers of Canada Research Chair in Poultry Welfare. She is an animal welfare scientist interested in how the housing and management of farm animals affects their welfare. With training in behaviour and physiology, she uses a balance of measures to try to understand how animals perceive and respond to the environments that we keep them in and to the ways that we handle them. Her research approaches range from studying animal preferences and their motivation to perform natural behaviour, to assessing well-being by using measures of physical condition and health.

She has studied diverse topics such as the endocrinology of nest building in sows, the behavioural responses of hens to different lighting systems, the ontogeny of feeding and drinking in piglets and motivation for dust bathing and nesting in laying hens. Her research group has tackled some difficult issues including transport and handling of market pigs and methods for euthanasia for piglets and poultry. Her goal is to determine how we can match agricultural systems to the animals’ behavioural biology in order to develop best practices for their care.

Learn more about EFC’s research programs here.