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Choosing Poultry Cages

01/04/2012 @ 10:24am

When looking at commercial chicken rearing, whether you are raising chickens as meat birds or as layers, you need to consider what kind of cages you are putting them in. While there are a number of different types of situations for hobby chickens, there are only a few types of cages for commercial poultry production. Being familiar with these systems and their benefits helps you make a solid decision when you are laying out your production area.

Battery cages are the most commonly-used system in poultry production in the United States. These poultry cages are small, each one housing between three to eight hens. They may be made of solid metal or mesh metal, and the sloped floor allows waste and eggs to roll and drop through to a conveyor belt. The water is provided through an overhead system, and food is supplied through a long trough that runs along the front of each cage. These poultry cages are typically arranged back to back, allowing for an increased number of animals caged per square foot of the space.

Battery cages may be arranged in a few different configurations. The most straightforward and space conservative configuration is the stack, where each cage is placed on top of another in several long rows. In the pyramidal system, which is less space conservative but promotes more air flow, the cages are tired so that the front and the top of the cage faces the air. Finally, in a floor installation, these poultry cages are simply spread out on the floor. While this installation is the least space conservative of all, it promotes better health for the chickens.

When you are thinking about the types of cages you should be looking at, first consider what kind of poultry you will be raising. For example, if you are invested in breeding meat chickens, choose a broiler cage, where the primary concern is feeding the chickens well. Compare this to a layer cage, where there are openings for the eggs to drop through. Conversely, if you are interested in breeding chickens for sale, you will need to look at parent stock cages, where the conditions are right for mating and the absolutely minimal egg breakage is the goal. If you choose to breed your chickens, don’t forget that you will also need to look into rearing cages, where the size of the chicks is kept in mind.

If you are in a place where you are considering raising chickens commercially, choosing your cage system should be high on your list of priorities. Consider how many chickens you want to raise and what you think your production will be like from year to year. The type of poultry cages that you choose will also impact things like egg belts and manure belts, and you should think about what your resources are.

Choose the cages that best suit your needs. These cages go a long way towards setting the tone of your business, and the more thought you put into the process now, the better off you will be in the future.

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