All eggs placed outside the nest in alternative laying systems (type 2, 1 and 0 eggs) represent a considerable loss in product quality and an increase in collection costs, with negative repercussions on the profitability of the farm.
Therefore, we must direct the hens and educate them to lay inside the nest.
CAN THE EQUIPMENT HELP US MAXIMIZE NEST EGGS?
Without a doubt the answer is yes, if we know how.
An egg out of the nest percentage of 2% may be acceptable, ideally at levels equal to or less than 1%. This percentage will be much higher (up to 20%) in the first days of laying and should be drastically reduced (to 2-3%) in the first week. From this point on, it will continue to decrease progressively during the next 4 weeks to levels of 0.7-1%, which will remain stable for the rest of the cycle.
This fact shows the great importance of the actions we take at the beginning of each production cycle.
To reduce the eggs out of the nest, we can speak of 3 general objectives:
1. Promote exploration/visits to the nest.
2. Reduce the number of eggs laid in the litter.
3. Well trained pullets.
PROMOTE EXPLORATION/VISITS TO THE NEST.
Appropriate nest design:
- Comfortable mat.
- Clean nest that allows easy deep cleaning.
- Illuminated entrance/dark nest interior (<4 lx).
- It should allow inspection of the nest without disturbing the birds.
- Nipples present in front of the nest (it is important to verify periodically that they are working).
Proper nest management:
- First open 1 week before the first egg appears.
- At the beginning, open a few curtains to encourage exploration.
- Turn on egg belts so that the layers become familiar with the sound.
- Daily opening: 30 minutes before lighting, with the possibility of bringing it forward at the beginning of the cycle or if we find early eggs outside the nest.
- Daily closing: 1h before lights out, with the possibility of doing it a little later at the beginning of the cycle or if eggs are found outside the nest at the last minute.
Avoid artificial nest shortage (last nest effect):
- Place perpendicular barriers in front of the nest every 5 – 7 meters. They should be placed as soon as the animals enter.
Prevent system eggs from being visible:
- As an option, an auxiliary egg collection system can be installed for these eggs.
Other management recommendations:
- Avoid feeding during the maximum daily laying period (from 30 minutes after lights on until 5-6 hours later).
- Temporarily restrict access to some areas at the beginning of the cycle.
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF EGGS LAID IN THE LITTER.
Litter quality/height: it should be dry and no more than 2 – 3 cm high:
- Scraper systems underneath the aviary rows are very useful to maintain an adequate height.
- Ventilation and insulated outlet hatches ( if present) will also help to maintain good litter quality.
100% of hens sleeping in the system:
- A successful lights-out program will guide the layers to sleep in the system and not on the floor.
- The existence of platforms and ramps will help to ensure that all hens can get up to the system in time at night.
- It is especially important to perform the bedtime every night, from the first day.
- Lighting should avoid the appearance of shadows.
Other handling guidelines:
- Prompt and regular collection of eggs laid on the ground (especially at the beginning of laying).
- Walking the halls in the mornings.
- Replace in the nest the ones that try to lay on the ground.
WELL TRAINED PULLETS.
Pullets should come preferably from a system as close as possible to the production house and should be well trained:
- For those flocks of pullets whose training is not ideal, Zucami has developed a poultry elevator system.
- The elevator provides water and a moving platform to all hens from the beginning of the cycle.
- Access to water for all birds is increased and mobility in the system is improved.