Egg Industry - November 2017 - 8
8 ❙ EggIndustry
CAGE-FREE LAYER HEN MANAGEMENT
to promote a productive environment. When the birds aren't
moving enough, meaning they are crowding into some areas
and abandoning others, it can lead to problems like increased
competition for food, water, nesting and roosting; increased
stress and aggression; and lower litter quality.
Lighting plays a major role in flock behavior. If lighting is
too intense, it can lead to aggression and stress in the house.
Generally, lighting levels should be uniform throughout the
house, and the system should be dimmable so it can be adjusted if the lighting level is contributing to aggression.
In the morning, rather than gradually brightening, Snow
recommended quickly switching on the lights. This will get
the birds out of the tiers and into nest boxes more quickly.
The first feeding of the day should happen right as
the lights turn on in the morning, and the second feeding
should come an hour after the first - in the pullet and
layer facilities. Snow said this schedule keeps the birds
from being drawn out of the nest to feed. When the birds
know a second opportunity to eat is coming, they will be
more likely to use the nest and lay the egg. Conversely,
birds will eat first thing in the morning because they know
a nest spot will open up in a short time.
Stacking feeding, rather than waiting four or five hours
in between feedings, helps to avoid mislaid eggs, promote
bird movement and reduce crowding.
Walk the flock
The most important method for promoting movement
is simply walking around in the cage-free house in order
to stimulate the birds to move. Snow said this is easier said
than done because of the growing size of barns and flocks,
but is essential for promoting movement and familiarizing
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ November 2017