This is the third post on this poultry blog for the benefit of Nigerians.
There are two main systems-the deep/dry litter and the battery cage system.In the deep litter system,the chickens are on the floor during the egg production period.The problems inherent in this practice are many and may do more harm than good to the farmer.
The chickens laying eggs on the floor will have direct contact with their droppings which is a serious health hazard as the droppings contain ammonia.
Secondly,the chickens have direct contact with their eggs and may break some which will result to a loss of income to the farmer.
Thirdly,it will be extremely difficult to do a stock count where the farmer has a large flock of chickens.Where the staff are dishonest and steal the chickens,the owner-farmer may not know quickly.
Fourth, the production in the dry litter system is lower because the chickens can move about which makes them burn energy better reserved for egg production.
In the battery cage system,the chickens are kept in cages where their movement is restricted and three chickens occupy a cubicle.Their droppings drop to the floor beneath the cages so the chickens have no direct contact with their feces.Thus,much reduced health risks and much less expenditure on vaccines.
The farmer can easily do a stock count of the chickens and the chickens will not have access to the eggs.The eggs will roll out of their reach after laying.
Further,it is much easier to feed the chickens and provide water as these will be poured into their feeders and drinkers attached to the battery cages.Therefore,wastage of feed is much more reduced unlike in the dry or deep litter system.
The battery cage is better suited as the egg production is higher than in the deep litter because movement is restricted which makes the chickens conserve their energy for increase in production levels.
However if you are financially constrained and can not afford to buy battery cages, you may stick to the dry litter system on the following conditions:
1) The evacuation of the chicken droppings must be done twice weekly especially if the farm is in the home where there are other homes around you.Twice weekly evacuation is to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and to reduce the risks of infection to the chickens.
2)You must have adequate space to operate a deep litter system. There must be no overcrowding of chickens.Overcrowding is a hazard. Using battery cages conserves space.
Take note that there are minimum feeding space and floor space requirements to observe in the deep litter system at different stages of growth.Adequate floor space in the deep litter system is an absolute necessity because overcrowding chickens leads to poor growth and development and rapid spread of diseases.
3)The cleaning exercise in the dry litter system is a more tedious exercise than in the battery system.
There are different types of cages available in the market.There are the old manual system or the automated system. There is the 2 tier (60 birds/unit), 3 tier types(90 birds/unit)&4 tier.There are also cages for 96, 108, 120 birds,144 birds,192 birds. Also there are imported brand new, imported(old,used in Nigeria),refurbished cages and locally fabricated brand new.