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Layer breeder

Light management for layer breeders is relatively similar to that of layers. Layer breeders and layers are both bred for egg production. However, layer breeders are housed differently than layers. The light climate should be supported by good house lighting to achieve the very best performance from layer breeders.

The lighting that is used should enhance the housing and encourage the layer breeders to make the best use of their environment. Good house lighting should give the right stimulus for egg production as well as maintaining high fertility levels.


Parent stock for laying hens

When natural mating is used instead of artificial insemination, male and female parent birds are housed together. Unlike male parent stock for broilers, they do not require a stronger light stimulus.


Lighting in cages used for breeders should give the right stimulus whereby providing optimal light intensity above the feeding trough is essential.

Enriched cages and colony housing are two different forms of cage housing. They were developed in response to the ban on cage housing; their aim is to improve animal welfare. Unlike the traditional cage, the enriched cage is fitted with litter, perches and nests. Colony housing is an improvement on the enriched cage as the system provides parent stock for laying hens with more space. Enriched cages and colony housing are equipped differently than traditional cages and need a different form of lighting.

To optimise the set-up of an enriched cage system or a colony housing system, three areas need to be controlled by lighting.

The feeding trough, and therefore the feed intake needs to be stimulated; the activity area, for free-roaming behaviour; and the nesting area for stimulating laying behaviour. Taking care of these three areas involves responding to demands placed by the equipment and, therefore, the needs of the birds.

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Lighting in floor housing for layer breeders should deliver the right stimulus, but not allow excessive or negative stimulation to take place.

The most common type of housing for layer breeders is floor housing consisting of one or more rows of nests placed in the length of the house.  Drinking lines and feeding lines hang above the grids alongside the nests.  Ideally, lighting in floor housing used for layer breeders should create an optimal light distribution while preventing undesirable light levels from reaching the nests.

The feeding and drinking lines belong to the activity areas and the nests belong to the resting areas. This means that activity and rest are encouraged in these respective areas. In housing for layer breeders, lighting should create the right stimulus so that the birds are not provided with the wrong climate or overstimulated. Over stimulation or the wrong light climate can lead to lower production or undesirable behaviour, for example pecking.