The content of laying hens in special cages is the optimal solution for farms with a large number of poultry.
Quality chicken cages can be made independently, subject to a number of requirements and rules that ensure the safety of cages for poultry and the convenience of their maintenance.
Pros and cons of the cellular content of chickens
The placement of laying hens in cages has a number of significant advantages over their keeping in nests-boxes or on open roost with common bedding. These benefits include:
- The ability to maintain a large population of chickens in a limited area,
- More simple and convenient room maintenance for chickens,
- Saving feed due to ergonomic feeding and limiting the mobility of birds,
- Simplified collection of laid eggs
- Ensuring greater security of chickens compared to breeding and open content.
Cleaning and disinfecting properly constructed cells is easier and faster than performing the same procedures in a henhouse with nests, and the closed presence of birds in cages provides them with safety both from predatory animals and from infectious diseases spread by wild birds.
The feed is fed to the chickens in the cages in a special tray, excluding the spilling of part of the feed on the litter and trampling it. In addition, with a sedentary lifestyle, the bird needs less food, and the meat-bearing breeds contained in cages gain more weight than chickens in nests with the same amount of food. Cells are installed with external egg collectors, which allows you to quickly collect all eggs laid.
It is important to remember that the cellular method of keeping chickens has the following disadvantages:
- The low quality of life of chickens,
- The need for additional feeding with calcium and vitamins,
- Increased risk of infectious epidemics due to crowding
- Lack of natural light.
Due to limited mobility in cages, chickens are often heart attacks occur with abundant feed, and also egg production decreases. The lack of sunlight not only adversely affects the health of birds, but also leads to additional costs for lighting.
Chickens contained in aviaries receive calcium and vitamins, eating small pebbles, insects and greens, with cellular content, it is necessary to supplement the birds ’diet with microelements.
It is important to take into account that in conditions of crowding the disease of one chicken can lead to rapid mass infection and a mora of the entire population, therefore, regular veterinary monitoring is necessary when the chickens are kept in cages.
High levels of health and egg production in chickens contained in cages can be achieved by complying with the following requirements when designing and building cages:
- Each cage should be equipped with a separate removable feeder and drinker,
- The walls in the cage are made of steel and should not be solid,
- Airing and dryness must be observed.
- The diameter of the rods of the grid of the pallet must be at least 2.5 mm so that the pallet does not bend under the weight of the bird,
- The openings between the front feeding bars should be 50 mm wide and 100 mm high.
- The minimum area occupied by one egg chicken is 0.06 square meters. m, meat-breeding breed - 0.08 square meters. m,
- The protrusion of the egg collector should be 60-80 mm, and the bend of the edge should be at least 30 mm.
Feeders and drinkers should be easily removed for cleaning and repair, but at the same time, mounted on the cage securely.
The walls of the cage and the ceiling are made of steel grating to ensure the ventilation mode and prevent the development of mold due to humidity. The floor is inclined at an angle of 6-8 degrees and is made of a fine mesh with an opening diagonal of 10-15 mm.
In one cage can contain from 2 to 12 laying hens. The standard cage for 5 chickens has a depth of 0.5-0.7 meters, a width of 1-1.4 meters and a height of 0.7 meters. The cage for placing 10 hens should have a depth of 0.8-1.0 m, a width of 1.8-1.9 m and a height of 0.7 m.
To maintain the egg production of chickens at the required level in terms of cellular content, the chicken coop should be equipped with:
For automatic water supply to each drinking cell, the vacuum type of water supply is used. For this, one common tank (or tank system) is installed above the troughs of the upper tiers. Flexible tubing from the tank to each drinker. It should be remembered that the tank should be hermetically sealed, then the water in the drinkers will be filled strictly to the edge of the tube suitable for it.
The crowded presence of chickens in cages requires the installation of electric fans for good air circulation inside the chicken coop room and preventing moisture accumulation.
For lighting you can use:
- Heat lamps,
- Energy-saving lamps,
- LED bulbs.
Every two square meters. A chicken coop with cells should be lit with a 100-watt luminaire (for heat lamps), or a 12-watt LED lamp. When distributing fixtures, it is important to avoid placing darkened places in the hen house. A light day for hens should last 14-16 hours.
To automatically maintain this mode, use timers, and in the presence of windows, you can save on lighting in the daytime by installing a photosensitive sensor that will turn off the lamp during the day.
The procedure for making cages for chickens
Cages for chickens are made of metal bars and can be fixed in both metal and wooden frame. For mounting cells on a metal frame, the following materials will be required:
- Small galvanized wire mesh with a cell diagonal of 15-25 mm and a rod thickness of 2.5 mm
- Wide mesh for the front wall with a mesh side of 50 mm,
- Metal corners with a minimum thickness of 3 mm,
- Galvanized sheet tin thickness from 1.5 mm for the tray,
- 1.5-2 mm thick plywood sheets for feeders,
- Water pipe with a diameter of 50-70 mm for drinking bowls,
- Steel hinges and hooks,
- Dowel-nails or anchor bolts,
- Screws for metal and wood.
Tray for collecting litter can be made of plastic instead of tin. It is also necessary to prepare a welding machine, a screwdriver, a grinder, a tape measure with a marker for marking the frame and a building level to check the stability of the structure.
Before installation, it is necessary to determine the size and number of cages depending on the number of birds and make a drawing of the framework in which the cages will be installed.
Below is a drawing of a metal cage for placing four hens of an egg breed or three hens - meat-fighting:
The procedure for mounting the frame and installing cells is as follows:
- Cut the grinder for the frame according to the drawing,
- Install vertical frame elements and weld them with horizontal crossbars,
- Measure the horizontal level of the frame rails and, if necessary, correct,
- Strengthen the frame by welding additional diagonal corners with a length of 30-40 mm,
- Cut with a grinder from a metal mesh a sloping egg collector and bend its edge, as shown in the drawing,
- Cut the side walls and roofs for the cells,
- To process the front wall of a large lattice, cutting off a row of horizontal cells so that at a height of 15-20 cm from the bottom of the cage, the front lattice has an opening of 50 by 100 mm,
- Assemble the cage of the cut out mesh elements, welding the fixed parts, and fix the movable front door on the hinges,
- Bend the edges of galvanized sheet so that their height is 20-40 mm, and internal dimensions - 600 to 700 mm. Make the desired number of trays (by the number of cells),
- Weld to the front of the cage on the sides of the two metal plates measuring 20 by 30 mm,
- Install the cells on the frame, fixing them with metal screws for the lower plates to the horizontal corners of the frame,
- Make the feeder from thin plywood sheets so that the vertical wall of the feeder adjacent to the cage has a height of 100 mm, the bottom of the feeder extends 150 mm, and the back wall of the feeder has a height of 125 mm
- Attach metal hooks to the trough using self-tapping screws and install it at a height of 15-20 cm from the cage tray,
- For the drinking trough, cut the plastic pipe along with a hot knife, install airtight plugs on the sides and fasten 7-10 cm above the trough. Bring water to the trough.
The maintenance of layers can be not only profitable occupation, but also very pleasant. Despite the daily cleaning and feeding, this activity brings the joy of communicating with the birds.
Bring to care for the bird can be the whole family, including children. This can be a serious educational moment in their development and preparation for adulthood.
Advantages and disadvantages of cellular content
Breeding chickens in enclosed spaces with a limited area is typical not only for large poultry farms. This option is suitable for farmers and private owners who own several dozen birds. The main reason - the inability to organize free-range with a chronic shortage of space. Placement in cages will increase the number of chickens and their productivity. The advantages include:
- simplified maintenance, reduced maintenance costs,
- the ability to accommodate a large number of birds in a limited room,
- an increase in the rate of fattening, rapid weight gain,
- Saving feeds with accurate dosage of servings for each chicken,
- simplified collection of eggs and the exclusion of their eating,
- protection from predators and thefts,
- accelerated fattening with limited mobility.
Interesting fact!According to statistics, one person consumes about 300 eggs per year. Thus, one chicken of highly productive breed will fully satisfy its needs.
Cages with a bird are usually placed in a warm barn. But several containers can be installed even on the balcony of a city apartment. Usually chickens contain 1-2 seasons, then livestock change. Quick change allows you to maintain a high level of egg production and reduces the risk of spreading infections.
It is advantageous to contain fast-growing egg and meat-egg crosses in the cells.
Despite significant advantages, the content of chickens in the cages, there are also disadvantages. Among the main ones:
- Low quality of bird life. Chickens, deprived of the ability to move freely, live less, they develop osteoporosis, various tumoral diseases and heart attacks are possible.
- Crowded content provokes the spread of infections. Chickens are susceptible to epidemics, frequent disinfection and vaccinations are needed to maintain healthy livestock.
- Reducing the taste of meat. With improper feeding, the bird turns out to be too fat, and the eggs become smaller.
- The need for permanent mineral and vitamin supplements.
- Lack of daylight, bad insolation.
Important!In a closed space without walking, you can keep broilers and normal laying hens, subject to rapid culling. However, such conditions are not suitable for the withdrawal of breeding roosters and chickens.
Keeping birds in cages does not always reduce costs. Automation of feeding and water supply, ensuring an ideal microclimate can result in a tangible amount.
When determining the size of the room should be considered breed
To ensure good egg production and minimize the risk of disease, it is important to observe certain conditions:
- Good lighting. The ideal option is a seventeen-hour light day, preferably the light of the warm spectrum. The cages are placed in such a way that all the birds have enough light, shadow areas should be avoided.
- Fresh air. The chicken coop is ventilated 2-3 times a day, while direct exposure of cold air to birds is unacceptable.
- Stable temperatures throughout the day. The optimal mode is 20-25 degrees.
- Moderate air humidity. The hygrometer should show 50-70%, a sharp increase in humidity is unacceptable.
Cells need frequent cleaning and disinfection. At least once every 3 weeks, the bird is removed, the walls, floors and doors of the cages are treated with safe disinfectant solutions and dried thoroughly. Such treatment will prevent infectious diseases and stop the spread of parasites (ticks, fleas, lice).
A forced molt can prolong the period of bird productivity. To organize the process is easy. For half a day, the bird is left in the dark, while reducing portions of food. Then the light turns on again, the vitamin components are included in the menu. Short-term switching renews the body of chickens, they begin to actively change the pen, they eat with a big appetite, the number of eggs increases.
Moderate moult chickens considered normal
The standard room size for chickens is 0.5-0.7 m deep, up to 1.4 m wide, and 0.7 m high. In this cage, 5-8 layers can be placed.
The best material is a thick steel mesh with not too small cells. Such material provides good air exchange, the bird does not suffer from stuffiness and high humidity. The mesh is tensioned onto metal or wooden bars. Feeders and drinkers should not be too deep and comfortable for removal. At the same time, they should be fastened tightly and securely so that the chicken does not accidentally turn over the container. The mesh bottom should have a slope; a retractable metal or plastic pallet for collecting litter is laid under it.
Standard cages are sold in specialized stores, but many poultry farmers prefer to save by collecting their own.
Still spending a lot of money on chicken cages? In vain! It’s more than realistic to make a “house” for chickens with your own hands Step-by-step instructions on how to manufacture cells, as well as detailed design drawings, can be found in the article - Cages for laying hens: dimensional drawings and step by step production.
The premises for egg crosses can be relatively small, one bird should be at least 0.06 square meters. The breeds of meat in need of more space, they need at least 0.08 square meters. m head. In one cage can contain from 2 to 12 chickens. It is important to remember that overly crowded content favors the spread of infections.
Cell placement and additional equipment
Many owners, limited in space, place the cells in tiers. However, this method affects the illumination, birds reduce egg production. It is better to arrange the cells in a single layer or place them on shelves with large gaps. It all depends on the size of the chicken coop, its height, the number of birds.
It is better not to place the cells for hens in tiers.
For ease of maintenance, all cells are connected by an ovary. Drinkers and feeders are attached to the outside. The uniformity of illumination is provided by the rheostats; they turn on the light gradually so as not to frighten the bird. The device is able to independently adjust the brightness of the light and change its spectrum. Egg production is positively affected by lamps with yellow, red, orange filters.
Infrared radiation favorably affects chickens.
To prevent parasites from breeding in cells, deep ash baths should be installed. Wooden boxes are filled with wood ash mixed with fine river sand and dust. Chickens will be able to regularly clean the feathers, getting rid of tiger lice and ticks.
Ash treatments protect chickens from insects and bacteria
If there are many chickens, it is worth automating the process of feeding water and feed. The most convenient vacuum drinkers connected in a single system. A common plastic or metal tank is installed on the dais, flexible pipes leading to the troughs are removed from it. So that they fill to the edge, but do not overflow, the tank is supplied with an airtight lid.
With a large number of chickens feed and water supply should be automated. The system can be made by hand, it will cost inexpensive
Provide fresh air will help the fan system. They are placed in different corners of the coop and include at least 3 times a day. For lighting using LED or energy-saving lamps. Conventional incandescent lamps are very short-lived and do not withstand the seventeen-hour light regime. In addition, such devices consume much more electricity and can cause network overload.
Lamps should be well insulated and securely fixed. Near it is logical to place the heating system
Caution!Energy-saving lamps in the form of a spiral can accidentally break and contaminate the room with mercury vapor. LED devices do not have this disadvantage.
Illumination rate - 12-diode LED lamp for every 2 square meters of space. Lamps should be distributed evenly; in case of longline lighting, they should be installed above each row of cells.
Disease and Prevention
Overcrowding provokes the risk of infection. Избежать их поможет тщательная и своевременная дезинфекция помещений, вакцинация и дегельминтизация.
Среди опасностей, которые подстерегают кур:
- клещи и пухоеды,
Определить недомогание можно по внешнему виду и поведению кур. Drowsiness, poor appetite, weight loss, disheveled dull feathers and pale scallops accurately indicate the disease. Even brighter signs are: sore throat, difficulty breathing, coughing, airway spasms. For preventive purposes, all livestock receives a portion of the antibiotic along with the feed. Obviously sick bird must be promptly removed and quarantined.
Timely vaccinations will help to avoid epidemics.
Note!After contact with unhealthy chickens you should thoroughly wash your hands and wipe them with alcohol.
Frequent washing of cells with a disinfectant solution, changing litter will help prevent infections. In the bathing ashes worth pouring a little dust, the mixture in the bathing baths is changed weekly. Periodic quartz treatment of the chicken coop can destroy the infection. Do not allow other animals to chickens, allow dogs or cats to drink and eat from the feeders. Rodents are also dangerous, which can spoil grain feeds.
In the case of an infectious disease and the death of a large number of chickens, it is necessary to replace all the cells, the old ones should be burned. The room is treated with bleach and thoroughly ventilated.
Conditions of keeping chickens in cages
For keeping chickens in cages the chicken coop must be insulated, heated and well ventilated, as well as electric lighting.
To achieve the optimum temperature, the cells are placed at a height of 90-100 cm from the floor. When installing a cell battery, the temperature regime is maintained, focusing on the 2 tier of cells.
The temperature should remain within the limits of -20С + 270С, the humidity should be maintained at the level of 60-70%. Light day for adult chickens should be at least 17 hours.
In the summer, planting density is reduced, in winter it can be increased. They feed chickens with complete feed with the addition of premixes. A big plus for keeping chickens in cages is simple care and cleaning.
In specialized stores you can buy cellular batteries.
The two-tier cellular battery includes 2 blocks and is designed for 14 chickens - 7 in each cage. Its size is 82x50x120 cm. The cells, as a rule, are equipped with drinkers, feeders, as well as egg-grains and egg-collectors. A pallet for collecting litter is installed under each cage. The area per 1 chicken in such a cage is 580 cm.
When keeping chickens in cages, you can also get eggs for incubation. In this case, the cage is made about 2x1 m in size. There can be planted 10 chickens and 1 rooster. The floor must be level, without slope.
Eggs need to be collected often to avoid biting. In the cage store, the corner of the cage is covered with red plastic, which allows you to create a calm setting for the masonry.
Chickens can also be grown in cellular batteries (CBI). In the cell, they can be grown from daily to 3 months of age. The size of the cellular battery is 1800x900x590 mm. Up to 50 chicks can be placed in each cage block. On the façade there is a grooved feeding trough, on the sides of the cage - fluted troughs.
From the age of 3 months, chickens are transplanted into SOI cells (1826x630x600 mm). In such a cage there are 2 times less young stock - 24 individuals.
Cages for birds can be bought, but you can do it yourself. For a homemade cage, you need a metal grid and an aluminum frame from the corners. The mesh is stretched onto the frame; a mesh floor is made from below.
The door is made from the front side. The floor is better to mount at an angle, then the eggs will roll into the chute. Under the floor set pan. Feeders and drinkers are fixed outside the cage.
Keeping chickens at home
If you decide to have chickens in the apartment, the cellular method of keeping is the only possible one.
The cell battery is installed on the loggia (balcony), in the pantry or room. Balcony must be warmed, and in the summer to arrange protection from the sun's rays. In the room or pantry need to equip the ventilation system. You also need to take care of proper lighting and moisture.
In addition to the advantages, the cellular content has disadvantages. First of all, it is "cellular fatigue", caused by the dense population of chickens. Often there is samoschip and hysteria.
When kept in a cage, chickens stop nesting much earlier, whereas with free-standing, egg-laying can last up to 2–3 years.
Features of the cellular content
With this method, the content of chickens is usually placed in small groups, 5 or 6 individuals in one cage.
However, each individual should have at least 0.1 square meters. m square of the cell, otherwise the chickens will be too crowded and their quality of life will deteriorate significantly.
In case the hens are kept individually, then 0.5 square meters is enough. m area for one individual.
Immediately it should be noted that the cellular content seriously limits the movement of layers. They can not lead an active lifestyle, walking around the yard, so they need special care.
It is advisable to constantly maintain the same microclimate in the hen houseso that at different times of the year livestock feels good. Details about the proper organization of the content of laying hens you can read here.
Unfortunately, only with the help of such a method it is possible to place the bird as compactly as possible on the territory of one chicken farm, therefore the cage content is common among large farms.
In order to minimize unpleasant consequences for chickens, we recommend choosing only those breeds that most easily tolerate such content.
How to arrange accommodation of laying hens correctly?
The cages where the birds will be kept are made of five-tier columns of three- or five-tier batteries made of wooden materials or metal. The floor with this content is made of metal rods. A small gutter is formed on it from the outside of the cage, and the floor itself is placed under a slight bias. In the groove will get eggs collected from the cells.
In the photo below you can see how the cells for chickens look like, which can be made up in several tiers:
Trays are set to collect litter under the floor.which are easily retractable for cleaning. In non-mechanized cells on the front of the door in front of the door there is a water bowl and a trough. As a rule, one drinker is installed in two adjacent cells. Most often it is fully mechanized, as well as feeders for layers.
Proper organization of the content of chickens includes many important points and this applies not only to the cells.
In winter, the heating of the house with cages is necessarily organized. In winter, the temperature should be maintained at 16 degrees, and in summer - at 18 degrees.
To cope with this task you will need information about the construction of the chicken coop and the actions involved.
Due to the lack of free range, the hens are forced to receive light from artificial sources.
The fact is that illumination favorably affects not only the health of the hens, but also the egg productivity.
It is especially important to establish the correct lighting in the hen house during the cold period of the year when, by their nature, birds cease to fly.
In the room where there are cages with birds there should always be uniform lighting. In no case should not allow the formation of too dark and too light corners.
Gradually turning on the light is necessary to reduce the stress of birds. In addition, the illusion of changing the time of day is created, so the birds perceive such lighting as completely natural.
Often, a different color spectrum is used to improve the egg production of poultry in large poultry farms.. The owners of the poultry farms constantly alternate the range of red, orange and yellow colors, which favorably affect the egg productivity of the birds, the chickens become calmer, which immediately affects their health.
In terms of the cellular content of laying hens should receive a well-balanced feed, as they do not go out for walking. Most often layers in factory conditions are fed with mixed feed. It begins to be given from the beginning of puberty to the end of the egg-laying.
For feeding layers living in cages, crumbly feed is ideal. Birds will collect food for a long time, spending most of the day doing this. For birds restricted in movement, this method of feeding will have to be just the way, since they will spend some amount of energy during intensive pecking of food.
The composition of crumbly feed must include wheat grains, calcium carbonate, sunflower meal, any vegetable fats, salt and vitamins. In no case should not use food with the addition of drugs and dyes, since the body of the hen can not cope with the digestion of such food.
It is believed that the best feed for chickens should contain 15% protein, 5% fat, 6% fiber and a small amount of useful minerals and vitamins.
The most detailed information about feeding is collected in the appropriate section of the site.
Feeding laying hens contained in cellular batteries takes place with the help of automatic feeders. Food gets into special gutters in cages where chickens quickly peck at it.
As the feeder looks like you can see in the diagram and the photo below:
At the same time, birds should have free access to water. On average, each layer should drink at least 500 ml of water per day, so you need to worry in advance about the arrangement of drinking bowls.
Most often in the territory of the chicken farm is used the chute drinker. It consists of a gutter through which water flows, fixings, a valve tap and a nozzle for draining. These automatic drinkers are very convenient to use, since their installation requires a small length of pipes. But they need to be washed periodically, as the drain pipes often become clogged and fail.
Often used and drinkers nipple type. Examples you can see in the photo below:
What are needed feeding in the diet?
All laying hens living in cages should be fed in the form of vegetables, herbs and fruits. The fact is that the birds never go out for walking, so their body may feel a lack of certain vitamins, which can lead to eating disorders.
In the feed for laying hens, mowed and chopped lawn grass, kitchen waste, skins of fresh vegetables and weeds are added. However, the real delicacy for laying hens is cabbage of various kinds, pumpkin, apples and green salads. All these ingredients need to chop finely and add to birds in the feeder.
Usually the hens primarily choose green fodder, and then proceed to eat cereals.
Remember that unbalanced diet leads to a lack of vitamins, and this in turn has a variety of consequences.
Cleaning cells and house
Proper maintenance of laying hens depends on how well the cleanliness of their habitat is maintained. To do this, follow the sanitary and hygienic standards of poultry. Cleaning in the house should be regular, especially when it comes to the cage content of the hens.
To keep the cell clean you need to wipe her twigs daily. Trough after feeding the grain thoroughly washed. If chickens are fed with green fodder or wet mashes, the feeders are cleaned immediately after the end of the chicken meal.
As for the litter, it falls on special pallets placed under the cages. They are cleaned with special scrapers as they are filled. After this, the litter is sent to the workshop for processing, where it becomes a good fertilizer for plants.
In detail about disinfection and hygiene, as well as how and from what the litter is organized in chicken coops you can read in separate articles.
Prevention of parasites and diseases
With the cellular content of laying hens, the risk of viral and fungal diseases increases significantly. That is why preventive vaccinations are constantly carried out on poultry farms. This is especially true of young laying hens, who are considered to be more susceptible to various diseases.
To get rid of possible feather parasites in cages with chickens ash baths are installed. They are small wooden boxes, which are almost filled to the top with ash, sand and dust. By taking such baths, the chicken kills all the louse and ticks that infest its plumage, reducing the quality of life in the hen house.
We present to your attention the plot about keeping chickens in cages, private experience: