Entrance and first day of layer pullets reared in cages


With this article, the Zucami technical team aims to give TIPS to our customers on the entry and first day of cage-reared layer pullets.

The first days of a laying pullet’s life are crucial for its correct development and subsequent productive stage.

If the care is not proper during the first ten days and the start-up is not correct, the entire rearing of the pullets in both the rearing and laying phases will be affected.

Management failures at this critical stage will affect growth, uniformity, mortality and susceptibility to future disease and production outcomes throughout the animal’s life.

The quality of day-old pullets is very important as they must be animals with adequate body weight, with closed navel, without omphalitis and without physical defects or anomalies. They should arrive at the house active so that they can quickly and easily find water and feed.


It is essential to properly clean, disinfect, disinsect and rat exterminate the farm, including silos and water pipes, before the animals enter the house.

The scheduling of animal entry should be carried out taking into account a sanitary vacuum period of at least three weeks between lots. Afterwards, environmental samples should be taken with surface wipes to ensure the absence of Salmonella and in case the samples are positive for the bacteria, a new disinfection should be carried out until the absence of Salmonella (PNCS) is achieved.

According to the season of the year, the house should be preheated for 72 to 24 hours to ensure thermal comfort at the reception of the animals. We must remember that birds are poikilothermic animals during the first days, which means that they are unable to regulate their body temperature, and are very sensitive to the thermal variations of the environment in which they are located.

The cages in which the pullets will be housed at the start should be the cages in the rows in the upper half of the batteries, as this is where the temperature is highest. The higher the height, the higher the temperature, but it must be taken into account that there must be a good visibility of the animals, as they require a great deal of control during the first days, to ensure the greatest possible comfort. It is important to remember that the temperature probe must be at the height of the pullets.

It is important to appreciate that when we breed in cages, we limit the space for the pullets’ movement and with it, the ability of the animals to move around looking for the most comfortable zone.


we must be very careful in measuring environmental parameters and assessing the behavior of the animals, which is really the best indicator.

The surface of the cages should be covered by between 50% and 100% paper, and this should always communicate the beginning of the cage where we will have the feed with the end, where we will find the teats, so that we provide access to both needs as much as possible.

This paper should be special so that it makes noise and therefore stimulates the pullets to move, in addition to facilitating the distribution in the cage and their movement. It is recommended that it be self-degradable and if it is not, it should be removed within 7 to 10 days, since otherwise, it fills with feces and can lead to bacterial proliferation and subsequent contamination.

On paper, it is recommended to put feed before the animals come in so that they find it as soon as they arrive, and to add feed frequently during the first hours to stimulate them to eat.

It is recommended to use early drinking troughs as they make it much easier to start up and to start the animals consuming water and feed from the very first moment.

Regarding water, it is important to flush the water lines shortly before the animals are brought in so that they have access to fresh water (<2 4° C ), and to ensure that all water troughs are in good working order and are not clogged after the pipes have been cleaned.

The height of the nipples should be at pullet eye level and the water column pressure should be less than 5 cm. The chemical and microbiological quality must be controlled periodically, guaranteeing its potability.


The time between hatching of the pullets and placement in the cages on the farm should always be as short as possible. Thermal comfort and humidity should be guaranteed during the transport of the animals, recommending a temperature between 26ºC and 29ºC and a relative humidity of 70% inside the pullet boxes.

At this age, fluctuations in temperature and humidity can have serious consequences, causing losses and great inequality in the flock.


Once the truck arrives at the farm, and before the carts are unloaded, the delivery note must be checked to verify the exact number of animals arriving so that they can be properly distributed in the cages according to the recommended density.

It should also be verified that animal transport vehicles are accompanied by the cleaning and disinfection certificate, as well as the breeder’s certificate stating that the pullets come from breeders with negative results in the analytical tests for: Salmonella enteritidis, S. typhimurium, S. hadar, S. virchow and S. infantis.

The unloading and distribution of the animals in the cages should be as fast as possible, with all the necessary staff. It should be taken into account not to pile the animal crates on the floor or near the walls as they quickly catch cold.

Pullets of different sources must be housed separately and the origin of each animal must always be identified, and the mortality record of each source must also be recorded separately.


Once all the pullets have been unloaded, the number of losses must be counted and the veterinarian must draw up a report to be sent to the hatchery, stating the number of losses, the cause, the condition of the animals and mentioning any noteworthy incidents.

The most important environmental parameters to be taken into account in the reception of pullets are:

Temperature, which should be between 33 and 36ºC.

Relative humidity around 60%.

We must also take into account other factors such as the absence of air currents inside the house (less than 0.2m/sec) and the levels of carbon dioxide (<3,000 ppm) and carbon monoxide (<10 ppm).


The veterinarian shall collect ten box bottoms where the content of meconium and feces shall be analyzed to ensure that the animals are free of Salmonella through self-monitoring (based on the National Program for the Surveillance and Control of certain Salmonella serotypes in laying hens of Gallus gallus species, specified in Part B of Annex II of Regulation (EC) No. 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council).

Blood samples should be taken (consult the Annual Animal Health Plan according to the Autonomous Community) to perform a serology and evaluate the titers of Mycoplasma gallisepticum, M. sinoviae and Gumboro (in order to calculate the date of the first vaccination in water) according to the vaccination program.

The boxes should be counted to confirm that each box contains the established number of animals and one hundred animals should be weighed individually to establish an average entry weight and uniformity.

It is advisable to perform necropsies of the casualties in transport and unloading to find out the reason, as well as to take the body temperature of the animals upon arrival, which should be 40.5ºC in the sewer.


After unloading the animals and checking that all parameters are okay and the animals are well, the house should be left for a couple of hours to allow the pullets to relax and get used to the new space after the stress of unloading.

After this time, it is necessary to return frequently to the house to check that everything is in order and to evaluate the thermal sensation of the animals.

As mentioned above, it is important to remember that:

The ideal temperature is not the one indicated in the manuals, but the temperature and humidity among other environmental parameters in which the animals are most comfortable.

Water consumption can be stimulated by having a pressure that allows the pullets to easily see the bright water droplet. To achieve a good water droplet brightness, the light intensity should be appropriate, being between 30 and 50 lux during the first 7 days, so light in the first days is a really important factor.

In case the pullets have been beak trimmed in the hatchery, handling must be even more cautious as the animals arrive more sensitive and find it more difficult to eat and drink due to the handling.

It should be emphasized that the priority is for the animals to start drinking as soon as possible, so all efforts are important.

Easy access to feed is also of great importance in the early hours. Placing feed on top of the paper in front of the feeder line prior to pullet entry and replacing it frequently during the first hours will help to teach the pullets where the feed is, as well as keeping the feeder lines stocked with as much feed as possible.

In order to check that the animals have eaten and drunk, a swabbing check should be made 8 hours after the animals’ entry.

This control consists of checking 100 buckets in different parts of the house and at least 80% of the pullets must have both water and feed content in the crop.

Throughout the rearing period, it is important to gradually raise the height of the nipples so that the drop is always at the eye level of the pullet. It will have to be graduated daily at the beginning since the growth of the animals is very high in their growth stage.

If we start from a good quality day-old pullet and we carry out a good management in the first hours of life, controlling environmental parameters and animal welfare, we improve the health, uniformity and quality of the flock in the present and in the future productive stage.


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      Basic Data Protection Information. Data Controller: Zucami Poultry Equipment, S.L.U. Purpose: To enable communication with stakeholders and information on products and services. To deal with enquiries via this channel. Rights: access, rectification, deletion. For more information Privacy Policy