Egg Industry - June 2018 - 4
4 ❙ EggIndustry
Tools for litter management in
cage-free layer houses
Controlling litter moisture and depth in cage-free aviary systems are
important for maintaining air quality and bird health.
"The key to success for cage-free egg production is a
manager who is open-minded and interested in learning," said Steve Walcott, Big Dutchman's vice president of sales. "We can't just take what we know about
traditional housing and expect those practices to work
in cage-free production. We need to develop a new set
of skills to keep all the moving parts working together
properly." It is important to add litter management
to the growing list of responsibilities for cage-free
production managers. Walcott added, "Producers are
spending a lot of money on litter management."
The litter area under an aviary system and/or in
the walkway plays an important role to meet animal
welfare requirements. Besides providing additional
space, the litter area is used by birds for dust bathing,
foraging and scratching, which help reduce picking
and cannibalism. Also, dust bathing helps maintain
optimal feather condition, improving the birds' ability
to regulate body temperature.
Optimal litter conditions and depth
Producers strive to ensure litter is dry and friable
(easily crumbled) with management measures such as
humidity control, ventilation and litter amendments, if
necessary, as well as specially designed equipment.
Managers strive to prevent high litter moisture levels
(over 20 to 25 percent) that result from the litter and manure mixture caking, which increases the likelihood of ammonia problems. Likewise, extremely dry conditions result
in an increase of particulate matter (dust) and bacteria load
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ June 2018