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Animals 2019, 9(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9020049

Housing and Management Practices on 33 Pullet Farms in Canada

1
Department of Animal Biosciences, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
2
Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 November 2018 / Revised: 17 November 2018 / Accepted: 24 November 2018 / Published: 6 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
Full-Text   |   PDF [246 KB, uploaded 8 February 2019]

Simple Summary

The rearing period of pullets plays an important role in the successful transition to furnished cages or non-cage housing systems for laying hens. Changes in the laying hen sector often occur without accompanying changes in the pullet rearing sector, which could pose a risk to the success of the housing system transition. However, little is known about the housing and management practices of pullets worldwide. Recently, a new Code of Practice was released (March 2017) in Canada which provides one of the first guidelines on pullet rearing. This study aimed to describe current housing and management practices applied on pullet farms in Canada, where farmers are in the process of transitioning to this new Code of Practice. Thirty-three pullet farmers were surveyed to understand commonly used management practices in cage (14), single-tier (11) and multi-tier (8) flocks. In general, non-cage farmers met the new requirements set out in the Code of Practice for space, perches and litter provision during pullet rearing. Flocks in conventional cages did not have opportunities for perching and foraging. Further research is needed to develop methods to provide pullets with opportunities to perch and forage in these systems. Additionally, clear litter management recommendations for farmers to ensure good litter quality are needed for non-cage housing systems.

Abstract

Although Canada is one of the first to provide guidelines on pullet rearing in a new Code of Practice which came into effect in March 2017, little information is available about the housing and management of pullets on Canadian farms. We surveyed 99 pullet farmers and received useable responses from 33 pullet farmers (33.3% response rate) who took part in the Start Clean-Stay Clean™ program through their provincial egg boards across Canada during October–December 2017 as part of a larger study. Most flocks were housed in conventional cage systems (42.4%), followed by single-tier (33.3%) and multi-tier systems (24.2%). Flocks ranged from 1–19 weeks of age (average: 10.5 weeks of age) and were white- (58.1%) or brown-feathered (41.9%). In general, non-cage farmers met the new requirements set out in the Code of Practice for space, perches and litter provision during pullet rearing during this transitional period. Conventional caged flocks did not have opportunities for perching and foraging, but developing new methods to provide pullets with opportunities to perch and forage will become more important as the laying hen housing system transition from conventional cages to furnished cage and non-cage housing systems in Canada progresses. Additionally, clear litter management recommendations for farmers to ensure good litter quality are needed for non-cage housing systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: aviary; cage; floor system; rearing; chicks; welfare aviary; cage; floor system; rearing; chicks; welfare
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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MDPI and ACS Style

van Staaveren, N.; Decina, C.; Baes, C.F.; Widowski, T.M.; Berke, O.; Harlander-Matauschek, A. Housing and Management Practices on 33 Pullet Farms in Canada. Animals 2019, 9, 49.

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