AFAC: Expanding the cages & exploring the aisles

The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens requires that:
“All hens must be housed in enriched cage or non-cage housing systems that meet this Code’s requirements by July 1, 2036.”
Faced with this upcoming requirement, producers have many questions to consider:
Enriched cages or non-cage housing?  Renovate an old barn or build new?  How will my management practices change?  Will my feed costs go up or down?  How will my lighting change? And on and on and on…
On November 15th, 2017 the Canadian Poultry Magazine hosted the webinar “Phasing Out Conventional – What to Consider and How to Prepare,” presented by Bill Snow and Ron Wardrop with Big Dutchman. This presentation offered information for producers to consider when making the transition away from conventional cages.
In addition to housing for layers, the talk touched on rearing pullets in preparation for enriched cages or non-cage housing.
This is an important time for the birds to learn how to navigate an open system, especially in a non-cage system. The birds will then be ready to jump from tier to tier in their layer facility comfortably and with less stress.
Enriched cages and non-cage housing systems each have their pros and cons.
Producers need to consider all the information available to them and decide on what works best for their operation and their management styles.
The image below is a comparison of just some of the things producers need to consider in either system.

One thing you’ll notice is that the aisle width in the non-cage housing systems is over twice the width of the enriched caged.
This is because in an enriched caged system the birds are still in cages, but the cages are larger and are enriched with perches, nest boxes, dust bathes, etc. In the cage-free systems, the birds are allowed to roam the aisle and jump from tier to tier.
The aisles need to be wide to accommodate the birds, the litter, and to allow personnel to walk up and down the aisles and check on the birds without disturbing them.
We can’t possibly cover everything touched on in the webinar in this blog post, but we hope we’ve sparked your interest and we encourage you to watch the full webinar at the link below!

Source: Latest from Alberta Farm Animal Care