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Behavioral response to novel objects in pullets housed in pulsed alternating wavelength system (PAWS) environments
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May 20, 2022

Behavioral response to novel objects in pullets housed in pulsed alternating wavelength system (PAWS) environments, 4/2020 – 5/2022

Colorado State University and XTi

Conclusion: Bovan laying hens under XTi’s pulsed alternating wavelength system (PAWS) showed reduced apprehension to novel objects than hens under control lighting. Pecking of this novel object occurred at a higher rate than birds under traditional lighting. This may be an early indication of reduced stress and improved animal welfare under XTi lighting.

Study Objectives:

  • To determine the impact of XTi PAWS lighting environments on the behavioral reaction of young pullets to a novel object. Additionally, researchers wanted to evaluate the impact of the color of the novel object on the behavioral response of the pullets in a PAWS environment.


  • Previous studies on layer hens showed improved bird behavior with subjective evidence of decreased stress, decreased aggressive tendencies, and improved ease of handling by workers.
  • No objective data on bird stress and handling had been collected in earlier trials.


  • The study was conducted at XTi’s research facility in northern Colorado.
  • 299 10-week-old Bovan pullets were used for the study. Pullets had previously been divided into 17 boxes at 2 days of age. Each box had either an XTi light or a control light.
  • Black and white wiffle balls were placed in each tent slightly below eye level of the birds.
  • Hero 4 GoPro cameras were mounted on the ceiling of each tent and recorded the birds for 30” after initial exposure to the wiffle balls. All 17 tents were recorded.
  • Data was observed and evaluated by 2 researchers, and behavior and pecking of the novel objects were recorded.
  • Data was analyzed using R at Colorado State University.


  • Across all groups, birds interacted with the black wiffle balls more than the white wiffle balls.
  • In general, pecking of the novel object occurred at a higher incidence by birds under XTi lighting vs birds under control lighting.
  • There was no effect of lighting on latency to peck either of the colored wiffle balls.


  • Novel object tests generally assume that a fearful animal would be less likely to engage with a novel object in their environment. Thus, novel object testing can help assess the amount of fear a bird may perceive in its surroundings.
  • Understanding behavioral changes can help optimize environmental conditions that promote a positive welfare state for the animal.
  • XTi PAWS lighting had a positive impact on the bird’s willingness to interact with novel objects within their surroundings.
  • Further research is needed to further quantify the benefits of XTi lighting on animal welfare.
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