Sexually mature female poultry birds are referred to as layers. They are kept for egg laying purposes in either free rage or caged farming. Egg production period for hens generally run from 20 weeks to 75 weeks. Each bird goes through a layer cycle until they are spent, then culled or sold for meat.
The Poultry Cage
Commercial table egg production is predicated on caged layers. Proper cage management for layers guarantees high production good profitability. Cage layer accounts for 78% of all egg produced in the markets.
Other sources include free range eggs, litter eggs or floor eggs. The main reasons for cage popularity is easy observation, sanitary environment, food rationing. It effectively reduces broodiness, eliminate floor eggs, easy culling or handling.
Proper site selection is important to the success of the enterprise. Things to consider in site selection is distance from crowded areas or highways. Layer hens are very noisy, produce huge quantity of waste.
Poultry farms are usually establish away from urban dwellings or crowded areas. The choice of land should be elevated, dry with good drainage system. Provide a secure perimeter fencing with adequate space for expansion.
The location should be close to existing egg market to reduce cost of transportation, easy access to customers. Make sure the site has good water supply, electricity, accessible roads. A sites located in a rural area can leverage on cheap labor, land.
|Day old||Marek’s disease||0.2ml|
|5 days||Ranikhet-Ocular admin||Drop|
|11 days||Marek’s/ Neck||0.2ml|
|14 days||IBD/Drinking water||As indicated|
|49 days||Fowl Pox/Wing||Prick|
The 8th week they are administered against Ranikhet disease, 18th week Gumboro vaccine.
Layer Feed Consumption
Egg producers are fed layers mash rich in protein and crude fiber. Feed them two times a day, avoid spillage or waste. Daily feed consumption for 18 – 20 weeks, 70 – 80g, 22-25 week age 85 -100g feed.
Others are 26 -30 weeks age 105-120g feed, 31weeks-41weeks 120g -115g feed. 42 -63 week age 112g -115g feed, 64-72weeks 110g feed.
|Poultry Age||Feed Consumption|
|18 – 20 weeks||70 – 80g|
|22 – 25 week age||85 -100g feed|
|26 – 30 weeks age||105-120g feed|
|31weeks – 41weeks||120g -115g feed|
|42 -63 week age||112g -115g feed|
|64 – 72weeks||110g feed|
Layer Cage System
Here is how a poultry farmer can introduce layer cage system. Egg laying hens are usually housed in a battery cage. The cage is ideal for commercial production of eggs. The cage features columns of identical cages in rows interconnected together.
The system is very efficient, easily maintained and functional. The system allows manual or automatic egg handling, manure removal. Other things to notice are the linear drinking system and manual or automatic chain feeding.
Benefits of Layer Cage System
There are many benefits to operating a layer cage system. The birds movement are restricted, reduces cannibalism and better egg production. Other advantages are easy maintenance, easier waste management and feeding.
Confinement reduces aggression, pecking and contact with a sick bird. It provides high stocking density, clean hygienic eggs, flock management. They provide better feed conversion, increased production and low ammonia emissions.
Advantage of the Cage System
- Restricted movement
- reduces cannibalism
- better egg production
- easier maintenance
- easier waste management
- reduced aggression, pecking, contact
- high stocking density
- clean hygienic eggs
- flock management
- better feed conversion
- increased production
- low ammonia emissions
The disadvantages are increased rate of osteoporosis, forced molting. Forced molting is a deliberate stopping of food to cause molting and invariable invigorates the production of eggs.
Other negative aspects involves farmers beak trimming the birds before placing them in the cage. This practice is believed to reduce vent pecking, cannibalism and feather pecking.
The European Union issued a collective directive to ban battery cages in 2012 but allow enriched cages of 45 cm high and 750 cm2 space.
Disadvantage of Cage System
- increased rate of osteoporosis
- forced molting
- farmers beak trimming
- European Union ban on specific battery cages
Things to Look for in a Cage System
The cage system should meet current bird space standard. You need a modular belt cage system that offers easy shipping, improved egg roll-out and simplicity. It should have a sturdy construction, composite mesh floor and metal door latch.
Other requirements include proper ventilation, solid rod floor support with tighter floor mesh spacing. It should be rugged, durable and made from galvanized steel. Look for one with full front horizontal doors and innovative interlocking parts.
More important features are cage warranty, easy access to interior and feed. Make sure the cage has a good slop for egg roll out a choice of different high of 3 to 12 high, rows about 160 meters.
What to Expect in Cage System
- easy shipping
- improved egg roll-out
- sturdy construction
- composite mesh floor
- metal door latch
- proper ventilation
- solid rod floor support
- tighter floor mesh spacing
- rugged, durable and made from galvanized steel
- full front horizontal doors
- innovative interlocking parts
- cage warranty
- easy access to interior and feed
- good slop for egg roll out
Different Types of Layer Cage
There are different designs of layer cages. However two are very popular with egg production farmers. The two are the stacked layer cage and A-Frame layer cage.
- Stacked Layer Cage
- A-Frame Layer Cage.
Stacked Layer Cage
The stacked layer cage features trough mounted step rail, commercial grade galvanized steel. Others are walking floor design ad a good floor support system. More features are full width sliding doors, wire sliding doors.
The cages have standard size 24’’ wide x 25.125’’ deep, 14’’ high. It should be 2 to 10 tiers high with or without a catwalk system. They are also fitted with solid steel cage divider or wire mesh.
The full width sliding doors provide clear visibility and accessibility. The use of wire mesh floors are because of the durability of the material. The floor support system reduces feet accidents while the mounted trough steps prevent damage to the eggs by predators.
Features Stacked Layer Cage
- trough mounted step rail
- commercial grade galvanized steel
- walking floor design
- good floor support system
- full width sliding doors
- wire sliding doors
- standard size 24’’ wide x 25.125’’ deep, 14’’ high
- 2 to 10 tiers high with or without a catwalk system
- solid steel cage divider or wire mesh
- full width sliding doors
- wire mesh floors
A-Frame Cage System
The cage is generally constructed with galvanized steel and has an 8-degree floor slop for egg roll-out. It should have flexible cage floor, rust free PVC rail support and improved manure roll off.
The frames are sturdy with composite floor and ideal for egg production. The manufacturer should offer a warranty, step rails that are slant or straight cage design. The cage should have good ventilation, replacement parts, easy assembling.
Standard cage sizes 24’’ wide x 18’’, 20’’, and 22.34’’ deep x 12’’ high. Some have 10 foot long sections, square back design, 2 to 5 tiers high. The trough mounted step rail prevents damage to egg trays. The galvanized floor should be corrosion free and about 14 gauges.
Features of A-Frame
- constructed with galvanized steel
- 8-degree floor slop for egg roll-out
- flexible cage floor
- rust free PVC rail support
- improved manure roll off
- frames are sturdy with composite floor
- manufacturer warranty
- step rails slant or straight cage design
- good ventilation
- replacement parts
- easy assembling
- standard cage sizes 24’’ wide x 18’’, 20’’, and 22.34’’ deep x 12’’ high
- 8 to 10 foot long sections
- square back design
- 2 to 5 tiers high
- trough mounted step rail
- corrosion resistant galvanized floor
- start egg hatchery business
The system faces an outright ban in Europe. This is due to animal rights campaign on the care of the birds. However it is still a popular choice in many countries.
There are strict rules, regulation and permits for the construction. Make sure you find out the laws and standardization in your demography before purchasing one.