BREEDING FOR SUCCESS …TOGETHER Management Guide Management Recommendations for Barn, Aviary & Free-Range Systems Alternative Systems
LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE 2 2 LOHMAN of competitive The mainstream products are LOHMANN LSLCLASSIC and LOHMANN BROWN-CLASSIC, well known for their efficient production of quality white and brown eggs, respectively. › LOHMANN BROWN-PLUS is a brown egg layer with an higher body weight and higher feed intake capacity, designed for lower density feed ratios especially for organic egg production. › For markets requiring more XL-size eggs LOHMANN BROWN-EXTRA is the ideal brown layer. › PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN LSL-CLASSIC PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN BROWN-CLASSIC PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN BROWN-PLUS PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN BROWN-EXTRA
LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE 3 NN ffers a wide range of e birds LOHMANN SANDY is a white feathering layer for the production of cream coloured eggs. The layer has an outstanding feed conversion and robustness. LOHMANN TRADITION, a brown egg layer with high early egg weight was developed mainly for markets requiring an even larger egg size. › › LOHMANN LSL-LITE and LOHMANN BROWNLITE are two products which have been designed for markets which prefer smaller eggs and measure efficiency in g feed per egg. › PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN LSL-LITE PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN BROWN-LITE PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN TRADITION PERFORMANCE DATA LOHMANN SANDY 3
4 4 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Content 5 Introduction 6 Housing systems 6 Barn systems 6 Aviary systems 7 Free range systems 8 Pullet rearing & Equipment for alternative systems 8 Floor 9 Aviary sytems 9 Feeding & Drinking 10 Biosecurity 12 Early Management 12 House preparation prior to the chicks arrival 13 Placement 14 Placement – Aviary 15 How to adjust the house temperature 16 Humidity 16 Early Lighting program 16 Early Learning 17 Monitoring & Profiling 18 Measuring Crop Fill 19 Stocking Density 19 Development 20 Body weight / Uniformity & Development 20 Body weight tables 21 Uniformity 21 Feathering 22 Production house transfer 22 Preparation for transfer 22 Continuation of the Monitoring program in production 23 Floor housing 24 Environmental conditions 24 Ventilation 25 Negative influences 25 Toxic gases & Dust 26 Production management 26 Litter 27 Litter management and maintenance 28 Nest box & Floor egg management 29 Free range management 29 Range / Pasture area 30 Pop holes 30 Fencing 31 Dust bathing & Wing flapping 31 Enrichment 32 Pecking behaviour 33 Perches 34 Lighting 35 Lighting program 36 Intermittent lighting & Early light intensity 37 Feeding&Nutrition 37 Rearing 37 Starter/Pre-starter phase 37 Growing phase 37 Developer phase 38 Pre-lay diet 38 Transition period: the onset of lay 39 Production 39 Vitamin & Mineral supplements 39 Grit 40 Energy 41 Protein/Amino acids levels & Egg weight 41 Feed intake capacity development 41 Feed form and presentation 43 Fibre 43 Feed management 44 Feed strategy 45 Health 45 Parasites 45 Monitoring 46 Red Mite: Dermanyssus gallinae 46 Rodents 47 Vaccination program 48 Vaccination methods 48 Supplementary v accinations
5 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Introduction There has been a distinct movement towards alternative housing throughout the EU since 2011. This trend shows no signs of abating as the demand for so called alternative systems, barn & free range, continues to gain pace not only in the European Union but across many continents. As this trend continues to grow, so to do the options we face when deciding on house design and the equipment we use within our chosen system. New technologies are being introduced to the market on a regular basis and manufacturers are constantly looking to improve upon their current offerings. Whichever system you choose it is imperative that not only do you consider your contractual requirements but also the local legislation and welfare standards for your country. External factors such as availability of land, access to amenities and infrastructure, site positioning etc. also need to be considered. The management practices within these systems raise their own challenges within the production cycle, particularly in rear so its highly recommended you gain some practical insight into what is involved by taking a good look around a well-managed and successful operation. The following recommendations are based on results of scientific studies and most importantly, practical experience gained in the field. This management program is intended to be used as a guide for newcomers and at the same time, assist experienced poultry farmers in optimizing the performance of LOHMANN products in alternative systems. Due to their robust nature, the LOHMANN breeds have proved themselves to be extremely well suited to alternative systems. 5
6 6 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › HOUSING SYSTEMS Barn systems allow the the birds free movement throughout the house. The systems themselves can vary considerably in design and layout depending on the type of building. They can range from a basic single level floor system, to a classic setup which consists of a dropping pit covered with either wooden, wire mesh or plastic slats. This raised area generally takes up two thirds of the floor space. (Please take note of your own regulatory requirements). A litter/scratching area then makes up the additional area which gives the hens room to move and exhibit natural behaviour. In systems where this is not feasible many people adopt a winter garden system which offers a similar solution. The laying nests, feeders and drinkers are positioned on the slatted area and should provide adequate accessibility to all hens within the system. Rails or other elevated perching facilities should be provided as resting places for the hens. The availability and design of the perching is often also governed by legislation. Aviary systems can vary greatly in design however all consist of raised tiers which offer a greater usable surface area than a conventional floor system. Hens have access throughout the system and are encouraged to explore by the careful positioning of the feeders and drinkers. Strategically placed perches and ramps encourage and allow movement between tiers. Lighting systems are designed to mimic sunrise and sunset and promote movement throughout the tiers and should follow a sequential pattern of roof to ground in the morning and the reverse in the evening. Due to the nature of the environment close attention should be made to the management recommendations for the system you choose. Barn systems Aviary systems Housing systems
7 7 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Free range systems Free range defines itself as a system where the hens have access to outdoor spaces. Internally both floor and aviary systems can be adopted. However, you must provide access areas often called pop holes which allow the birds freedom to roam outdoors during daylight hours. Dependent on local legislation, the access times, distance to the pop holes, size of the pop holes and allocated area per bird externally will be heavily regulated. While commercially free range systems may bring their own advantages, they do bring with them their own management challenges alongside increased disease and bio security risks. The fundamentals of rearing and production remain the same for alternative as they do in conventional housing, however we need to remember that there are subtle differences that need to be considered. Hens are destined to jump, perch and climb to access food water and nest boxes. They should be exposed to this from an early age. Studies have shown that access to perching by four weeks of age can reduce the risk of aggressive pecking later in the production cycle. Birds kept in alternative systems spend a lot of time on the floor or outside which allows negative foraging to occur. They need to be trained to eat effectively. Hens have increased exposure to external pressures and challenges. Having a healthy metabolism and good frame development is essential.
8 8 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › HOUSING SYSTEMS Pullet rearing & Equipment for alternative systems Pullets destined for alternative housing systems should be reared in similar systems to the destination house, or at the very least in systems that provide similar furniture. The more closely the growing facility resembles the future production system, the easier it will be for the pullets to settle down in their new environment after transfer. This not only applies to the house design but also the equipment within the house. Floor system Floor Floor rearing systems should consist of a well littered, climate controlled, evenly illuminated shed which, in addition to the standard feeders and drinkers, also provides slightly raised roosting places. These should be a mix of perching bars and raised slatted flooring. Ideally a winch system consisting of a slatted area and nipple drinkers should be provided to help encourage exploratory behaviour. It is vital that within these systems, the birds have access to rails and perches before 5 weeks of age to help the training process. Encourage movement !
9 9 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Modern aviary systems generally use nipple drinkers for both rearing and production. There are also other variations of nipple systems each offering their own solution available on the market. A 360° nipple is the preferred option. It is worth considering that early feed training is easier to accomplish in a chain feeder. Matching the feeding system in rear with that in the laying house will ease the transition period allowing for optimum early uptake. While it is not always possible to have identical house furniture you should always think of how easy it will be for the hens to take to the new equipment. This is particularly the case for feeding and drinker systems. Feeding & Drinking Nipple Chain Nipple Chain Aviary system However, it is important to remember that to successfully rear birds in alternative aviary systems you need a whole new perspective on management practices! Aviary systems Multitier aviary systems though similar in principle will often differ in design dependant on the manufacturer. The systems themselves comprise of metal or plastic slats and carefully positioned drinkers and feeders, all designed to encourage movement and natural behaviour throughout the system. Early movement and feed training are two important management strategies in these systems. Lighting is also very important within an aviary rearing system as this will play a vital role in encouraging birds to use all the levels effectively. There are many positives in adapting to alternative aviary rearing systems: › Many production facilities are already converting to aviary to allow more birds per house footprint. › The systems are designed to encourage natural movement behaviour › The design allows birds to perch, roost and explore! › Early training and movement can give the birds an optimum start in life. › Allowing the birds to explore from an early age encourages uptakes and strong healthy pullets. › Matching facilities eases stress during the transition period. › Ensure when moving chicks from tier to tier a portion of the chick paper is moved with them to assist in coccidial replication. Chicks should only be moved after the first replication (15–16 days).
10 10 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › BIOSECURITY Biosecurity As an egg producer within the human food chain you have a responsibility to adhere to strict biosecure measures and therefore biosecurity planning should be an essential part of your farm strategy. What are the benefits of good biosecurity to you? › Helps restrict the risk of infection of diseases to your premises. › Reduces the risk of zoonotic disease becoming established › Restricts the spread of disease on and off your site. › Reduces the risk of challenges to your flock which can impact productivity. › Cuts potential costs of disease treatment which can improve profitability. 3 major components of biosecurity Good biosecurity should be practised at all times and not just during a disease outbreak. All-in/All-out Implementing a system whereby the farm has a complete period with no hens onsite during cleanout and disinfection period and only stocking single age groups will drastically reduce the disease pressure. Restrict and control the vehicle and visitor movement on and off your farm both internal and external. Traffic Control The disinfection of materials, people and equipment entering and on the farm. It refers also to cleaning and disinfection procedures of poultry facilities during the service period. Sanitation Biosecurity means taking steps to ensure good hygiene practices are in place so the risk of an occurrence or spreading of a disease from or to your premises is limited.
11 11 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Infectious diseases can be spread farm-to-farmand flock-to-flock! Diseased or carrier birds Rodents, wild animals and free-flying birds Insects Egg transmission Air-borne fomites Contaminated premises Impure water, such as surface drainage water Shoes and clothing of visitors who move from flock-to-flock/ site-to-site Contaminated vehicles Actions & Planning Create a “Biosecurity Plan”. This will help you identify and assess risk areas, allowing you to make improvements where possible. Biosecurity guide and plan A written biosecurity plan is advisable to not only look at potential risk areas on your site but also the risk from outside sources. Please consult your veterinarian and the LOHMANN Technical Service Team for more information on a hygiene concept. Carcasses of dead birds that have not been disposed of properly
12 12 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › EARLY MANAGEMENT Early Management Empty house A full terminal cleanout should have been undertaken. Ventilation After achieving the desired temperature, let the ventilation work at its minimum level. This can help prevent temperature differentials in the rearing house. Feed & Water Ensure that feed and water has been distributed evenly throughout the house. Water pressure should be lowered to allow water droplets to form on the nipple-drinkers which will help the chicks to find the water. Temperature Heat the facility to 35–36°C (95– 96.8°F). This temperature should be maintained for the first 48–72 hours. Air humidity should be at a minimum of 60 % (3 days + add temp/humidity table). Drinkers The height of the drinkers must be set at the correct height for the new flock. Drinkers You may need to change the water in the bell drinkers and/or flush the nipple lines to assist with this. Summer /Winter In summer, start with this 24 hours beforehand and in winter, 48 hours before the chicks arrive. Equipment Check all equipment for functionality (feeders, drinkers, heaters, lights)! Water temperature Ensuring it is between the optimal 20–25°C (68–77°F). Lighting Ensure adequate lighting levels are set in the house. Try and ensure the light spread is as even as possible. House preparation prior to the chicks arrival
13 13 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Placement of the flock is an important factor in early adaptation to the house allowing the chicks to find feed and water. Additional feeders such as feeding bowls/pan feeders should be placed within the house to help achieve a balanced intake of feed throughout the flock for the first few days. Ensuring an even temperature spread throughout the house will encourage good movement and utilisation of the feeders and drinkers. The house should have already been warmed up to 35–36°C (95–96.8°F) Where this isn’t possible chick guards can help provide a draught free environment and keep the birds within an area where the climate is optimal (and close to feed and water) in those first few days. If the chicks are housed in sheds equipped with dropping pits, it is advisable to place chick paper over the slatted areas on which drinkers, feeders and the chick bowls (if used for a few days) are placed. In most cases people will already be using chick paper as part of their coccidiosis vaccination and feed management strategy. Ensure you use a good quality paper relevant to your operation. › After arrival of the chicks, place them close to water and feed. › Measure the temperature in the chick guards at the height of the chicks. › Dip the beak of some chicks into the water and activate the nipple-drinkers. This motivates the birds to drink. After finding the water, chicks will soon start to eat. This takes at least 2–3 hours. › Do not distribute the litter until the floor reaches the recommended temperature. As suitable litter, one can use wood shavings, cellulose pellets or straw. More information can be found in the litter section of the manual. Placement
14 14 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › EARLY MANAGEMENT Placement – Aviary › There are many different aviary rearing systems and you should always refer to the management guidelines for your system. › The principles however are the same. › Ensure the house has been correctly set up and all equipment tested. › Encouraging exploratory behaviour through the system helps train the birds to jump and fly. › Maintain an optimal environment with adequate temperature and humidity levels. › Ensure the lighting program encourages movement throughout the whole system in line with management guidelines. › Familiarisation with perches will aid the bird when moved to the layer house. In the first days after hatch, the chicks are not able to regulate their own body temperature, they are dependent on an external heat source. The house should have already been pre-warmed to 35–36 degrees prior to housing and now the ambient temperature needs to be monitored and maintained. The optimal body temperature of the chick is around 40–41°C (104 – 105.8°F). Checking the chick’s temperature from day one is a very useful tool not only to monitor the health status but also as an indicator of the ambient environment within the house helping you to manage your systems to obtain optimum temperature levels. To do this, we can use a simple modern ear thermometer.
15 15 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Take random sample of temperatures from different parts of the house to create an overall picture of the environment. Use the same method you use when weighing chicks. Using this calculation, you can adjust the house temperature accordingly to achieve optimal chick temperatures of 40 – 41°C. For example, increase the house temperature by 0.5°C (0.9°F) if the average body temperature of the chicks is 39.5°C (103.1°F). When you have the readings, you need to calculate an average and record the uniformity. Cloacal recording sheet How to adjust the house temperature There are also many external factors which could have a negative effect on the body temperature of the chicks: › Insufficient air distribution in the house › Low humidity level (low heat transfer capacity of the air) › Failing to pre-warm the house at the right time Always pay close attention to your birds. Their behaviour is often the best indicator of their well-being: If the chicks are evenly spread out and moving freely, temperature and ventilation is acceptable. If the chicks are crowding together or avoiding certain areas within the house, temperature is too low or there is a draft. If the chicks are laying on the floor with their wings spread out and gasping for air, temperature is too high.
16 16 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › EARLY MANAGEMENT Humidity levels are also important and work in relation to the temperature to obtain an optimum environment. For efficient coccidial replication a relative humidity of 60% is recommended for the first two weeks. For floor systems a litter humidity level of 35% should be maintained where possible. Humidity The relative humidity level inside the house should be at about 60 – 70 % for the first week When the day-old chicks arrive on the farm, some will continue to sleep after the journey from the hatchery, while others will search for food and water. An intermittent lighting program fits well with this irregular behaviour as not only does it help to synchronise the chick’s behaviour and encourage the search for feed and water. It also allows you to obtain a better overall impression of the flock. LOHMANN advise implementing an intermittent lighting program from day one for up to 7–10 days and then switch to your regular stepdown program. Intermittent lighting program Example for Slow step-down lighting program Graphs for lux intensity Early Lighting program Regardless of which system you are using early management is critical to ensure excellent acclimatization to the surroundings. This will be reflected in the uptake of feed and water and its relation to development. Training for alternative systems should start in rear and continue into lay. There is a direct correlation between the imprinting of behavioral patterns in rear and their relation to the production period. Studies have shown that access to perching by 4 weeks of age can have a positive impact on pecking behaviour later in the production period. Birds destined for alternative production houses should be trained to move, perch and jump from an early age. This preparation period allows for a smooth transition and familiarisation with the set up they will face. Feed Training with phase feeding not only allows better uptake of feed but can prevent unnecessary foraging behaviour. As we allow movement outside the system, birds will naturally forage. Movement Allowing the birds to be released from the system at a young age gives them time to find their feet and explore the system thus developing perching and jumping capabilities ready for the production facility. Early Learning Two important rules
17 17 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Monitoring & Profiling Data recording should be part of the everyday management practices in alternative systems. This should begin on the day of placement in the rearing facility. Hens in alternative systems are exposed to many vectors that can impact on development and productivity therefore we must use everything in our arsenal to assist us should a challenge occur. Collecting and analysing daily data is the key to detecting and resolving any management issues that may arise. All sites should create their own monitoring programs. These can be as simple as paper records or utilising latest technologies that can record and benchmark data such as those LOHMANN have available. Monitoring programs should cover not only the obvious such as feed and water consumptions, bodyweights and production data, but also anything that may influence development and production such as internal and external temperature recordings and humidity levels. The more data that is available to you the easier it will be to carry out any investigations into issues arising in the flock. Investigative analysis is the art of identifying trends and processes of cause and effect. The ability to use the data compiled in this way is beneficial not only for the current flock but also to help identify trends from flock to flock. Data recording sheets Flock man 4u Example of investigative analysis 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 Eggs per HD in % Age in Weeks Use all data to find out what happened Temperature Humidity Egg Quality Feed Laying Performance
18 18 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › EARLY MANAGEMENT Crop measuring is an excellent tool in ascertaining the feeding behaviour of a new flock. The first two days of feeding are crucial and it can often be difficult to assess the feeding behaviour due to the abundance of feed we offer in those first few days. To ensure the birds are taking to the feed crop checking should begin on day one of housing. A simple way to check this is to manually check the size and shape of the crops. This should then be recorded into your monitoring records for the start of your production profile. As the hours progress you should notice more and more chicks have feed in the crops. By 24 hours you should find all birds have taken to the feed and it is evident in the crops. Putting the effort into crop checking now will pay dividends later in the flock. Measuring Crop Fill Step 1 Select a random chick in the house. Step 2 Gently feel the crop. You should feel a round full sac. Step 3 Mark on a simple table if you can feel a small round lump in the crop. Step 4 Repeat this step on 50 birds throughout the house. If you find any that don’t seem to be taking to the food – dip the beaks in water and place them near the food and water source. Example of Recording Crop Fill Number of chicks with full crops 4 h 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 14 h 24 h 50 chick control group Hours since placement 25 = 50% 42 = 85% 50 = 100% Crop Fill measurement is not only a useful tool for those first few days but also for the life of the flock as you implement changes into your feeding patterns. More information can be found in the nutrition section.
19 19 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE The stocking density rules can differ from country to country. Higher stocking densities while allowing more birds on the same footprint can often lead to decreased uniformity and development due to increased competition and reduced utilisation of the facilities. Therefore, careful consideration must be taken when stocking your house! Please ensure the stocking density is compliant to the animal welfare regulations valid for the country where the chicks/pullets are housed. There are many factors to consider in the development of a healthy chick. An understanding of the developmental stages and their correlation to dietary requirements and the relation to performance is a crucial tool in your decision-making arsenal. Stocking density Development Maximal growth First moult Second moult Third moult 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Daily growth, g/b/d Modified from Ysilevitz, 2007 Main organs Muscles & skeleton Feed intake capacity Medullary bone Reproductive system Protein Bones Fat DEVELOPMENT OF
20 20 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › EARLY MANAGEMENT Monitoring the weight and uniformity of a flock is extremely important when assessing the developmental progress. Body weight monitoring should begin in rear and continue throughout the production period. It has been proven that reaching and maintaining body weight targets at crucial trigger points can and will have a bearing on flock performance throughout their lifetime. Body weight/ Uniformity & Development Bird weighing Many decisions you may make as a producer will be determined by the progress of the growth curve and the uniformity of the flock. Decisions on diet changes should be driven by bodyweight, while the decision to stimulate while governed by your commercial requirements will also be heavily influenced by body weight and uniformity. Chicks and pullets should therefore be weighed weekly starting from week one, this allows you to identify any deviation from target to act accordingly and in good time. Always weigh the flocks at the same time as mealtimes can influence body weight. Body weight tables LOHMANN LSL-CLASSIC LOHMANN BROWN-CLASSIC LOHMANN BROWN-EXTRA LOHMANN BROWN-PLUS LOHMANN LSL-LITE LOHMANN BROWN-LITE LOHMANN TRADITION LOHMANN SANDY
21 21 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Growing pullets change their plumage several times. There can sometimes be a slight decrease in the body weight development at this stage as the attention moves to re-feathering. Feathering Uniformity Uniformity can be used as a tool to demonstrate whether all birds within the flock have been supplied with an equal amount of equally nutritious feed, it also helps to predict the laying performance of a reared flock. The highest uniformity can generally be observed at the age of 15–16 weeks. There can sometimes be a slight drop in the uniformity levels at this point due to the onset of sexual maturity. However, having a good average body weight leading up to this point will limit any impact. › Stocking density › Feed structure (avoiding selective feed intake) › Trough length and height › Availability of water › Stress factors (diseases, vaccination) › Age of the flock when uniformity is measured › Weighing method: the more birds you weigh, the more accurate the calculated uniformity will be › Movement and management within the system Calculation examples Body weight & Uniformity Stage 3 The final stage is usually completed by 16 weeks of age. There will be a complete change of plumage where the flight feathers will have been replaced. Stage 1 Replacing the day old down with the first full coat. Usually completed by 5 weeks of age. Stage 2 Around 8 to 9 weeks a further re-feathering will occur. An increase in feathers on the floor will be seen. Wings of pullet at about 18 weeks of age A poor development of feather growth at 13 weeks is often an indicator of inadequate weight development and/ or lack of flock uniformity. If this occurs then it should be addressed as a matter of urgency. › Check body weights and uniformity › Check feed and water – quality and consumptions › Look for viral or bacterial infections (coccidiosis is a common cause of growth depressions) Factors which influence flock uniformity:
22 22 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION HOUSE TRANSFER Production house transfer Preparation for transfer Cleanout & Disinfection Check Shed Transfer › A full terminal cleanout should have been undertaken. › Regulatory swabbing completed, and clean out efficiency should also be tested. This can be done by ATP Swabbing. › Ensure all equipment has been tested. Lighting patterns initiated and ventilation set for the current climate. › Water lines should have been cleaned, disinfected and tested, ready to offer an immediate fresh supply of water. › Feed should be available and meet the nutritional requirements as laid out by LOHMANN. › Birds should always be given time to adapt to the production facility before the commencement of the laying cycle, ideally at week 17. › Ensure the light hours and type of light source of the rearing and production facility match. › The transfer itself should be carried out quickly and efficiently. Aim to move the birds together in one day and you have adequate and trained staff available. Continuation of the Monitoring program in production Your monitoring program should continue on day one of housing in the production facility. The most effective monitoring tool is observation. Watch and listen to your flock and they will guide you through any issues. › There can often be some loss of body weight in transfer (around 10 –12 %). This is not uncommon and quickly regained through a smooth and effective transfer. › It is recommended to begin your weight monitoring program on housing, recording weight gain and evenness. › Walk the birds regularly in the early days – this not only helps create movement patterns but allows you to interact with the flock. › Begin monitoring of feed, water, temperatures and record your findings. Pay close attention to the feed levels and usage within the system. › Record shed and egg room temperatures and adjust where necessary › Check the clocks/control panel regularly to ensure they are working correctly and consistently.
23 23 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Monitoring record sheets
24 24 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS Environmental conditions Obtaining and maintaining the desired house temperature and environment is an important factor in influencing the well-being and performance of the birds. Table of temperatures at different levels Ventilation There are now numerous types of ventilation systems on the market – positive, negative and tunnel ventilation to name but a few. Regardless of which system you have the aim is always the same: To maintain a stable suitable optimum environment for your flock To do this there are only two points to consider: Air Quality and Air Temperature Positive pressure systems These use mechanical fans to push air into the building and out through strategically placed air outlets. This movement of air creates a positive pressure and can be designed to move air over the birds and help keep litter areas dry. Negative pressure systems These are a combination of open air inlets and mechanical fans. When the mechanical fans are operational they create a partial vacuum of negative pressure which will pulls in air from the inlets and expels it out through the fan mechanism. In poor weather conditions this can exacerbate poor litter conditions by pulling in cold damp air. In free range systems the systems can be less effective once the pop holes are open. Air quality › Reduce dust and noxious gas levels. › Water leaks, poor litter quality, excessive build-up of dirt, health status, house condition and weather ingress all affect the air quality within the house. › Poor air quality affects not only the general environment but also affects the bird’s respiratory system which will have implications on production capability and liveability. Tunnel ventilation An option widely used in hot climates where air movement is paramount. Air is drawn in often through a cooling area at one end of the shed. Large exhaust fans in the gable end of the house will draw the air straight through and over the birds ensuring there is consistent air movement. Natural ventilation Natural ventilation is simply allowing an adequate air supply into the building which is controlled by the external weather conditions. In most cases an air distribution system will be used internally to create an even airflow. The prevailing wind direction, house orientation and location of the site itself will all influence the airflow into the building. Naturally ventilated systems can be difficult to manage in extreme temperatures. Air temperature › While the hens can adapt to varying temperatures where possible, we need to reduce temperature dips and spikes. › A stable temperature between 18–22°C should be aimed for on housing in the production facility. › Humidity can be difficult to control in open houses and particularly those with pop holes and negative ventilation. A relative humidity between 60 – 70% for the first period of development is desirable. Three main areas to focus on are: Temperature & Humidity levels Dust & Toxic gas The best indicator for correct temperature is to observe the behaviour of the chicks!
25 25 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Negative influences Laying hens are very resilient and can adapt to most weather conditions however when these become extreme extra measures should be taken. Plumage condition Draughts Low temperatures High temperatures Plumage condition plays a big part in adaptation to weather conditions in alternative systems and should be considered when making changes to ventilation and nutrition. Draughts can be very detrimental to the birds and lead to an increase in mortality, smothering and floor eggs. Draughts should be avoided and air flow at bird level carefully monitored. Well-designed winter gardens and wind protection devices can be used to reduce the impact of draughts in houses with open pop holes. Low temperatures can lead to increased consumption to maintain energy and maintenance levels within the hen. High temperatures above 28 °C begin to put additional strain on the metabolism of the laying hen. When these situations are unavoidable additional ventilation should be implemented and air flow carefully monitored supplying electrolytes for a short period can also be beneficial. These are especially harmful for young chicks and will affect their health and well-being. Toxic gases & Dust If problems in the ventilation of the barn or aviary houses occur, it is advisable to consult a specialist. Minimum Air Quality Requirements O2 over 20% CO2 under 0.3% CO under 40 ppm NH3 under 20 ppm H2 S under 5 ppm
26 26 Some options available LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Production Management Litter Litter has many uses within the poultry house. Not only does it help promote natural behaviours such as dust bathing and foraging it is also beneficial in absorbing moisture and in open houses it helps to reduce the spread of external contaminants to the raised areas. However, with these benefits there can also be negatives when the litter is not managed correctly, such as increased dust levels, increased moisture levels and increased ammonia levels. It can also become a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Therefore, it’s imperative to choose the correct substrate for your house and conditions and manage it accordingly. Wood shavings › Generally easy to source with good absorbency. › Soft woods should be used to prevent risk of splintering. › Too fine a shaving can result in caking when wet. Sand or gravel › Reduced risk of bacterial growth › Encourages dust bathing › Can encourage gorging › Hazardous to equipment Bark mulch & Wood chips › Readily available. › Larger particles can take longer to break down and absorb too much moisture becoming mouldy. › High risk of contaminated particles. Cellulose pellets Straw › Variety of options available: Wheat, Rye, Barley. Some are more absorbent than others. › Should be chopped to 2.5 cm. › Can provide enrichment when presented as bales within the unit. Regardless of the litter material used, it is essential that it should always be clean from contaminants! › Dust Free › Absorbent and free draining › Often contains a disinfectant element › Can be expensive
27 27 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Litter management & maintenance Litter should be sometimes distributed after the hens have been housed and be spread by the hens themselves if possible. It is sometimes beneficial to add a drying/bacterial agent to the floor prior to the distribution of the litter to help reduce early moisture levels and bacterial burden. Once in place the litter should be managed to ensure it remains dry and friable. This will prevent moisture and bacterial build up and allow the birds to exhibit natural behaviours. Electronic equipment such as moisture meters can be used to monitor the litter however the best pieces of equipment are your eyes and nose! › Grade the quality of your litter as you walk the house – is it friable? › Does it move when you walk it? › Areas such as those close to the external doors in free range systems can become poached due to the ingress of inclement weather – as part of your weekly routines, break these areas up before they become a problem. › Some people separate the litter area into sections and turn these regularly with the aid of rotovators or hand tools. Many aviary systems now come with floor scrapers which keep those areas friable. › Add further litter material where necessary. Don’t make it too comfortable or you can unwittingly encourage floor eggs. › Monitor the ventilation in the house ensuring good air movement over the litter area. › Encourage the birds to break up capped areas of litter by adding either a scattering of grain or grit. › Hen Grit comes in many forms and can have an additional benefit of assisting in crop and gizzard development. Good Litter Bad Litter
28 28 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Nest box & Floor egg management Laying nests should be designed and positioned in such a way that they are easily accessible to the hens, in a central location in the barn. The management of nest boxes can differ between systems and you should always refer to your supplier’s guidelines. However, the principles of nest box management remain the same: › Lighting should be sufficient enough to draw the birds to the boxes but not enough to prevent them from feeling comfortable to lay inside them. › Early training is important to allow the birds to become accustomed to the boxes and identify them as a safe place to lay. › Dark spots away from the nest boxes should be avoided to prevent creating attractive areas to lay. › There should be sufficient nest space according to your local regulations and the breed. Single nests: 1 Nest (26 x 30 cm) / 4 hens Group nests: 120 hens /m2 › Be conscious of your floor walks, moving birds out of corners and towards the boxes. › In aviary systems walk the flock at lights out in the first few days, ensuring all birds are on the system and manually moving those preferring to stay on the floor. › Always collect your floor eggs! One egg laid and not collected will encourage others to lay in the wrong places. › Monitor your floor egg collection times, numbers and location. This will help to identify and rectify any management issues. › Use a good substrate in the nest. This will provide comfort, prevent dirty eggs and reduce the potential for damage by ensuring good roll off onto the conveyor on automatic nests. › Nest box lights, if used, should only be on for a few hours a day before the main lights switch on. Prolonging the use of nest box lights can lead to issues with pecking etc. Once you have your floor eggs under control its advisable to discontinue the use of nest box lights altogether. › Try not to disturb the birds during the laying period. Think carefully about feeding times and floor walk routines. It can be quite easy to draw birds out the nest box areas at the wrong time. Adversely this can have a positive effect if you have nest box smothering. › Recognize the connection between house management and nest box management. Many factors can affect nest box behaviour such as draughts, lighting and litter. Observe, record and monitor any issues to give you the best chance of resolution should any issues arise.
29 29 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Free range management Allowing access to the pasture/range brings with it many challenges. While this may appear daunting, being aware of potential issues and adopting a proactive mindset will help you achieve excellent performance. Birds that have been reared in a full or partial aviary environment will find their feet quicker in the production facility than those reared solely on the floor. Range / Pasture area There are many challenges with free range flocks, with one big challenge being the outdoor space. The amount and position of land should be provided as per your legislative requirements. This often governs the amount per sqm per hen or in some cases total acreage. In some countries, you will also have to adhere to manure management plans regarding phosphorous and nitrogen levels. Time and effort should be taken when introducing your flock to the outside area to allow for an adequate training period allowing for good utilization of the land but also to train the birds to leave and return at the required times and within the desired area. The use of shades and external enrichment can be a great tool in encouraging birds out onto the range and to ensure full utilization of the area around them. Trees and shrubs are often planted in the range and in some countries, are part of the legislative requirements. They can also help to encourage movement and foraging behaviour. While these are beneficial it is also important to maintain the surrounding areas, and monitor the availability of any enrichment that may have an adverse effect on the birds. There can also be an adverse effect from misdirected foraging and grass eating. Your training program is paramount in teaching the birds where to forage and where to eat a fully nutritious meal.
30 30 Fencing requirements while assisting in predator control are also sometimes used to govern external movement of the flock alongside external enrichment such as trees or shades. Where possible a good quality six strand wire or netting should be used around the perimeter. This should be dug well into the ground. LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Pop holes Fencing Adding additional stone immediately outside the pop holes will act as a natural door mat and provide an element of natural drainage. Creating paddock areas, where you divide the outside area into separate sections which can be rotated every 6–8 weeks. This option allows constant regrowth and can be a benefit in worm control. Building a veranda area which allows the birds to walk on an additional wire mesh before entering the litter/ scratch area. Some people choose to use winter gardens. Which is essentially a covered area immediately outside the pop holes providing shelter from weather conditions and a barrier between the internal and external environments. The area immediately outside the pop holes will generally be the most used and can often become poached, especially in inclement weather. There are options available to help manage this area: As you can imagine, having open pop holes can affect the internal temperature and humidity levels as cold damp air is pulled into the house. This will also impede the quality of your litter, particularly in the areas closest to the pop holes. The impact can often be lessened by good range management and the use of pop hole shutters which, while not restricting external access can help reduce the impact of the external environment. Be careful on the angle you set on the shutters as they can cause issues with hens becoming trapped! If leaving wide open, ensure they are snug to the side of the shed.
31 31 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Dust bathing & Wing flapping Enrichment Both are examples of natural comfort behaviour. Dust bathing is well documented in having a positive benefit for hens. It’s classed as a high priority maintenance behaviour which can help support good feather condition and dislodge any unwelcome parasites. Reducing the opportunity to exhibit these natural behaviours may cause increased stress in the hen and therefore should be encouraged by keeping a litter of excellent friable quality. Dust baths are often used in addition to the litter to provide a separate calm dust bathing area. These are often dual purpose as they can be filled with a diatomaceous powder as the substrate which can be beneficial in reducing any potential risk, such as the poultry red mite. There is no doubt that introducing environmental enrichment to the flock can have a beneficial effect on the hen’s wellbeing when used correctly. Introducing the enrichment at different stages during the hen’s life will help entertain the flock and reduce any undesired behaviour. There are many options available such as pecking blocks or Lucerne bales which are often hung in hay nets.
32 32 Pecking behaviour It is part of the natural behaviour of hens to demonstrate exploratory pecking of their surroundings. However undue stress can turn this natural behaviour into more aggressive pecking. Negative pecking behaviour once started can be difficult to control. Some studies have found evidence of this behaviour as early as four weeks old. Being aware of trigger factors can help improve the productivity of the flock and prevent the onset of injurious pecking. Management Rearing and production Nutritional condition & Health status of the flock Body weight, uniformity, signs of diseases Feed consistency Ensure the composition of the ration is acceptable. Too fine can encourage selective eating and a nutritional imbalance leading to pecking behaviour. Pelleted feed can also have the same effect by reducing the time spent at the pecking troughs Stocking density Overcrowding or insufficient feeders and drinkers causing anxiety in the flock Deficiencies within the ration such as protein & amino acids can have a bearing on pecking behaviour House climate Temperature, humidity, air exchange rate or pollution by dust and / or harmful gases Light intensity / Light source Excessive light intensity, flickering light (low frequency fluorescent tubes or energy-saving bulbs emitting light at a very low frequency) External factors Issues outside the house, transport, farm equipment, staff rooms Parasites Infested birds can be restless and become agitated Equipment issues Unnecessary noises, broken equipment Beak treatment The treatment must be done in accordance to the animal welfare regulations valid for the country where the chicks, pullets and layers are housed. Some examples of stresses LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT
33 33 LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Perches Perching is essential for birds reared and housed in alternative systems. It has been demonstrated that providing access to perches before four weeks of age reduces the likelihood of injurious pecking. Perching not only allows roosting birds to exhibit natural behaviour and remove themselves at certain times from the activity within the house. It also assists in movement training and improved utilisation of the house system. Aviary systems are designed with integrated perching; however, you should always ensure this is easily accessible.
34 34 Lighting Lighting is an important aspect of poultry production. Not only is it used to promote movement within systems stimulating sunrise and sunset, movement between different tiers and perching and nest box usage. It also plays a key part in maximizing production, reducing stress and helping regulate natural responses. There are many choices now available from incandescent lighting through to modern LED systems. Each bring with them their own benefits and drawbacks. Light placement should never be underestimated. Whichever light you have in your house it needs to be conducive to movement throughout your system so independent and dimmable controls are vital. Having a well positioned system providing even light distribution at bird level will eliminate dark corners and shadowing which can both lead to floor/system eggs and undesirable behaviour. LOHMANN › MANAGEMENT GUIDE › LIGHTING Incandescent light › An incandescent light source offering flexibility over light positioning. › The lights however are very inefficient as they produce more heat than light. › Can be prone to damage as not suited for a harsh environment. Compact fluorescent light › A robust light source often supplied as compact or Linear. › More energy efficient than Incandescent Light. › Contain mercury which will limit future availability. LED – Light Emitting Diode › An efficient lighting system often housed in waterproof and shatterproof housing making it more suitable to the poultry environment. › Long life span offering energy savings and high-performance levels. › Can be expensive and with lots of options in the market, not all are suitable for poultry. High Pressure Sodium › Further Improvements on energy efficiency, though often an expensive option with limited dimming capacity and reliance on regulatory ballasts. 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 380 395 410 425 440 455 470 485 500 515 530 545 560 575 590 605 620 635 665 680 695 710 725 740 755 770 Wavelength (nm) Relative Responese (%) Light spectrum Vision of Poultrylohmann-breeders.com