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Renewed, improved free-range housing systems from Vencomatic

by 5m Editor
19 May 2005, at 12:00am

THE NETHERLANDS - Good production figures, improved food safety, animal welfare, environmental conditions and the poultry farmer's working atmosphere are the guiding principles behind the renewed free-range systems for layers from Vencomatic.

As a result of the European cage ban, the traditional low density free-range systems are now also used for high density commercial layer housing. Research done on these houses showed widespread bullying within the flock. Birds lower down the pecking order remaining on the nests and soiling them, or congregating in groups at the entrance to the poultry house evidenced this. As a result, the percentage of floor and second quality eggs are sky high. Also, the manure pits were often found to have vermin infestations and high ammonia emissions.

The solution for these problems where covered by Vencomatic with the introduction of two new systems for layers: the RED-L system and the Bolegg system. The RED-L system, developed together with poultry farmer Roelof Pol, creates a porch of manure belts, which looks a lot like the natural environment of a tree. In this 'tree' all the birds have enough space and flight possibilities, which results in less mortality. The Bolegg systems are placed in rows next to one each other. Important is the fact that birds don't have to jump from one row to another to get up in the system, but they can easily move up through the system itself.

In all systems enough nest space is covered, so birds always have a good place nearby to lay their egg. The result is that floor eggs are now commonly down to only 0.5%. With the usage of nests with moveable floors, the nest are proven to be cleaner, because dirt and feathers are removed from the nest daily. In this way the number of second quality eggs is minimized.

Manure is taken out of the building by belts located under the plastic slatted floors, with the result that vermin are not a problem and ammonia emissions have been reduced to virtually zero.

This increased automation has meant that one person can now look easily after a unit of 30,000 free-range birds, which goes a long way to answering the criticisms of those who say that staffing levels on free range units are too high compared to battery cage systems.

Source: Vencomatic - 18th May 2005

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