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Birds must have adequate training to move and hop between the different levels of the aviary, as well as being accustomed to live in large groups from an early age.
TRANSFER OF THE CHICKENS : it is best to do it around the 16th week of life so that they have a sufficient period of adaptation to the new accommodation before the onset of lay.
CHICKEN HOUSING in the laying house: it must be carried out from the early hours of the morning, distributing them uniformly throughout the different compartments of the house.
All of them must be released in the slats area (aviary system itself), so that they are close to the feed and drinkers, as well as to the nests and perches.
LIGHT PROGRAM: It can be convenient to leave the light on for 24-48 hours to help them become familiar with all the elements of the system.
INITIAL LEARNING: once the chickens are housed in this system, it is interesting to place a mesh or net to prevent them from falling to the ground for at least the first 4-5 days, to help them adapt to the new system.
THE INTENSITY OF LIGHT AND THE LENGTH OF THE LIGHTING PERIOD WILL NEVER BE LESS THAN THE FINAL PERIOD OF BIRDS IN THE REARING – 10 TO 12 HOURS PER EXAMPLE
Once the safety net is removed, the birds will have access to the floor area of the house.
On the floor, it is ideal to place litter (eg: a fine layer of sand of about 2 cm at the beginning).
The litter is necessary for the birds to express two ethological behaviors such as digging and sand bathing.
DIGGING: Digging behavior is intimately linked to feeding.
SAND BATH: The sand bath serves to keep the feathers clean and free of possible parasites.
This litter should be kept dry to avoid digestion problems, coccidiosis, and issues with the foot pads (lameness).
After the birds are released we must make sure that the perches located next to the ground are placed to facilitate their transit from the ground to the aviary area and vice versa.
Ideally, the perches are placed continuously throughout the entire building without interruption to further facilitate this process.
The same day that the birds go down to the floor, we must carry out a surveying process when the light is gradually turned off to avoid any straggling chickens during the night. By turning off the light gradually, we encourage the birds on the floor to go up to the different levels of the slats.
It is recommended to take the birds that are left on the floor and bring them up once the light has been completely turned off.
After several days of carrying out the surveying, we start noticing the birds go up to sleep at the different levels on their own and there are practically none left below.
This makes the birds accustomed to sleeping on the different levels with perches, instead of on surfaces more conducive to laying eggs (floor or slat).
BY PLACING THE NESTS AT HIGHER LEVELS, IT WILL BE EASIER TO GET THE BIRDS TO LAY THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF EGGS IN THEM
It is recommended that there are perches in the highest slat area of the aviary that is in the central part so that the birds that go up to sleep do not move. Initially, the area below the slats is closed by means of grills, to facilitate the adaptation process.
It is important to control the consumption of water and feed, as well as the evolution of body weight to detect possible adaptation problems.
The installation is designed to achieve both a sunset and a simulated sunrise by means of a light intensity regulator (for approximately 45 min it simulates sunset and sunrise) to facilitate bedtime. To facilitate this handling in the installation, a different lighting is available for each area of the aviary:
1.-CEILING LIGHTING Intense in the first weeks of adaptation (20-30 lux), to stimulate the movement of the birds and to avoid the laying of eggs in this area. This light gradually goes out for about 30 minutes (“twilight”)
2.-IN THE FEEDING AND RESTING AREA Dimmer lighting (5-10 lux) to stimulate feed consumption. This light goes off for about 15 minutes.
3.- IN THE SIDE AREA OF THE FLOOR AND BOTTOM OF THE AVIARY Points of light of similar intensity to the ceiling to avoid dark areas and thus preventing birds from laying eggs in those areas. It is the first to go out.
This management should be carried out from the moment the birds are released to the floor area in the laying house and for a minimum of six weeks as the laying rate increases.
It consists of the farmer walking through the house at different and irregular times to encourage the activity and movement of the birds, thus stimulating their movement between the different levels and blocks. They thus chase away birds from areas without feed and water, preventing them from going hungry and thirsty.
In turn, they become accustomed to the presence of the farmer and the risk of crowding and suffocation will be reduced.
This work is essential, especially during the first weeks from the start of lay, to prevent large numbers of birds from getting used to this practice.
To avoid chickens laying eggs on the ground, it is interesting to use an electric shepherd in those areas that may be more conducive to it (corners and separations inside the house on the ground and slat).
Depending on each flock, once we approach the laying peak, the area below the slats is opened to allow birds to circulate throughout the aviary.
In the case of free-range hens, once the laying peak is reached and that most birds already have the habit of laying in the nests, we will allow the birds to go outside.
This output can be direct to the open field (with the presence of drinking fountains)
CORRECT LOCATION should be in a quiet place with easy access for the birds so that resting birds do not impede access to the nest for those who want to enter. To this end, perches or a surface in front of the nests can be adapted to facilitate transit through this area.
ATTRACTIVE NEST FLOOR an intermediate solution between the preferences of birds (chopped straw) and of the farmer (hygienic and effective nest) can be artificial grass or rubber nails.
SUITABLE LIGHT INTENSITY should be higher outside the nest, but not completely dark inside them so that the hens want to enter it.
ADEQUATE NUMBER OF NESTS if there are individual ones for every 6-7 hens and if they are collective (the most widespread), 1 m2 should be available for every 120 birds.
AVOID AIR CURRENTS IN THE NESTS.
SYSTEM OF EXPULSION OF BIRDS FROM THE NESTS This system will prevent the birds from sleeping inside the nests and is automatically activated before the light is switched off. The best system is the one that lifts the floor of the nest since, in addition to forcing the hen to leave the nest, it removes a good part of the accumulated dirt. This helps reduce the number of dirty eggs.
There are a number of aspects to take into account in this type of production.
It is very interesting to get a good granulometry of the feed and to have the lowest percentage of fines to avoid as much as possible the selective intake of ingredients (the dominant hens will eat the coarser components).
Feed distributions in sufficient numbers, taking into account that during the hours of the day when most of the hens are laying, the feed distribution should be reduced as much as possible (during this period feeders can be rushed) to avoid distractions and maintain a calm environment.
On the other hand, during the afternoon we must apply more feed runs, since that’s when nutritional requirements hit their peak, as the egg is being formed.
By doing so, we ensure that they go to sleep with a full digestive system – It is crucial to have an adequate availability of calcium for the formation of the shell.
A house’s climate is a combination of temperature, air speed, composition of internal air, dust, and light.
By means of an adequate temperature, ventilation and good insulation, the birds must be distributed evenly throughout the house.
For this reason, it is very important that the ventilation system does not cause drafts at the animal level, and to avoid condensation that would alter the good quality of the bed.
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