Housing and Management Practices on 33 Pullet Farms in Canada
Department of Animal Biosciences, Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
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
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.