Poultry housing equipment: the do’s and don’ts
News - placed on 26/09/2017
Estimated reading time: 7.0 minutes
Is the house equipped with the right equipment? What are the points of attention to realise this? Which factors play a crucial role in this? With this article, we go into depth with a subject that is obvious to the most, but doesn’t get the attention it deserves, according to HATO.
Optimal animal welfare and production can easily exist next to each other. To achieve this, lots of attention should be paid to the equipment of the house. Technology is moving quickly. Every day lots of researches are published or you read about the latest technologies that are applied in the poultry sector. Changing laws (for example the ban on beak trimming) and growing media attention increase the importance of animal welfare and environment in the objectives of a poultry company.
With this article we want to emphasize that optimal housing equipment depends on multiple factors. It is of crucial importance that all these factors are well-adapted to each other. Three aspects that should certainly be taken into account are lighting-, ventilation-, and feeding equipment.
Poultry housing equipment: lighting
Lighting is one of the key factors that contribute to optimal housing equipment. By means of lighting, desirable behaviour can be stimulated, whilst undesirable behaviour can be prevented.
Think for example about broilers, who need to find their food and water in time. The first 24-48 hours are crucial to make sure they make a good start. Let the cycle start with a high lux value and take this back to 5 lux after 48 hours. We also see that blue light is often used as catching light for broilers, since it calms down the birds.
With laying hens, lighting plays a major role as well. Think about floor eggs for example; these can be restricted to a minimum by making use of proper lighting. By varying in light intensity and colour, a group of chickens can for example be stimulated to lay eggs in their nests. If feather pecking still occurs, red LED lighting can be the solution. When we speak about lighting, four aspects are key: the spectrum, the spread, dimmability and the flicker index.
This brings us to the first important aspect of lighting; the spectrum. Most probably you already know that a chicken is very sensitive to light; they observe a very broad light spectrum, as you can see in figure 1. The wavelengths of light are observed by the eyes, but also by a special gland in the hypothalamus. More and more research confirms that animals perform best under a broad spectrum of light. A spectrum in which colour is present in a major way approaches natural daylight closely.
Fig 1. Spectral sensitivity: chicken vs human
A correct light spread
A second important aspect of lighting is the spread; a correct light spread enables the birds to optimally use the available space. Bright spots and shadows that cannot be seen by people will be observed by chickens, possibly leading to clustering. The opposite might occur as well, where the birds avoid particular spots in the house (with all bad consequences that come along), as can be seen in figure 2. Click here to read our article about the importance of a correct light spread.
It is important to make a custom made light plan in order to ensure optimal poultry housing equipment. By means of this, the right number of lamps and the optimal position of them can be determined to ensure an equal spread of light. Request a free light plan here; you’ll receive a custom-made one within two days!
Fig 2. The effect of a correct (central) and incorrect (left and right) light spread on poultry.
Thirdly, it is important that a lamp can dim deeply (and equally); preferably from 100 to 0%. Sudden light intensity fluctuations will be perceived as very stressful by the chickens; this quickly scares them.
A correct light climate depends on all details. Deep and precise dimming is a must. By dimming smoothly at the right moment, it is for example possible to send the laying hens into their aviaries; they get the impression that dusk is starting. The CORAX DDS is the perfect solution to simulate natural daylight, since it contains UV-A; this lamp can switch smoothly from cold white (morning) to warm white (evening). Approaching natural daylight needs to play a key role in poultry housing equipment.
Another aspect that is getting more and more attention is flickering. Originally, chickens used to live in the jungle, where they were prey animals. They had to be on guard all the time. It is suspected that the flickering of a lamp (on-off-on-off) gives the chickens the feeling that a predator bird is hanging above them; a potential threat. This constant – possible – threat creates stress for the birds. Many of our HATO lamps are 100% flicker-free (figure 3) because they work on DC voltage; animal welfare is of key importance to us.
Fig 3. HATO lighting is 100% flicker-free and very suitable for optimal house equipment
Poultry housing equipment: Ventilation / climate control
Ventilation is a very important aspect of poultry housing equipment as well. Think about the movement of air through fans, climate control and ventilation by means of aeration nozzles and inlet valves. The health of poultry – and thus productivity – are heavily depending on the quality and temperature of the air. Temperature- and humidity fluctuations can negatively influence animal production and welfare. It is therefore of major importance that care is taken of the ventilation- and climate control when equipping a poultry house.
The emission of ammonia and CO2 should be minimised on every moment of the day. It is a primary need of the animals to live in a fresh environment with a high level of oxygen. When the ammonia concentration is too high, the tiny hairs in the animals’ lungs might damage, leading to a decrease in their immune system; this may lead to significant damages (source). It is therefore important that the purification system perfectly matches the poultry house equipment to realise an optimal environment for both animal and human. This process needs 24/7 attention. HATO Lighting can stand relatively high ammonia- and CO2 values in a house; we apply high IP values to our products.
Poultry is very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Undesirable cost increases and/or production decreases are two supplementary risks. Climate control is therefore the perfect way to optimise production. Making use of heat exchange systems or equal spread of pre-heated air enables the temperature to be kept stable throughout the year.
Poultry housing equipment: Feed- and drinking systems.
Feed- and drinking systems are fully automised. The type of feed- and drinking system depends on the whole poultry house equipment. Depending on the type of animal (broilers, layers or rearers) and the type of housing (floor- or cage housing, A- or H-type cages and so on), a correct system is chosen. The consumption of the animals depends heavily on the equipment of the house; temperature and lighting both play a key role in the feed- and drink quantity and frequency of the chickens.
Fig 4. The CORAX DDS is thank to UV-A LED perfect to simulate natural daylight
Did you equip your poultry house correctly?
As you have read, the equipment of a house is a major influencing factor for animal production and welfare. The market in which we operate is constantly innovating; new and existing techniques are increasingly finding their way into the agricultural industry. More and more innovations are taking place and we love to be a part of it.
HATO passionately works for over 40 years on one specific element of poultry house equipment; lighting. It is of major importance that care is taken for the whole equipment of the house, in which we are all convinced that lighting solutions are key for eventual company results. An upgrade to LED lighting can save lots of euros on the energy bill. This investment is profitable in only a few years.