Min­i­mum stan­dards for hous­ing lay­ing hens

NZ Lifestyle Block - - YOUR POULTRY -

This code par­tic­u­larly refers to lay­ing hens on large com­mer­cial farms but the stan­dards equally ap­ply to all adult poul­try, both male and fe­male. The code is too long to go into here, but if you’re in­ter­ested in keep­ing poul­try, it’s a good idea to read the whole doc­u­ment.

Hous­ing cov­ers the full range of en­vi­ron­ments from cages, in­clud­ing the phas­ing out of small cages (to be re­placed over time with colony cages), to barns where birds are kept inside all the time, to sit­u­a­tions where birds have ac­cess to out­side ar­eas. It also cov­ers sheds with a ‘win­ter gar­den’, a cov­ered area with a floor of gravel or bark chips which is a tran­si­tional area be­tween the barn and out­doors, pro­tected from ex­treme weather and preda­tors. Other sys­tems which are in­creas­ingly com­mon are aviaries or percheries where birds have ac­cess to the floor plus mul­ti­level plat­forms and perches within a barn where food and wa­ter is also avail­able. The abil­ity to move through the var­i­ous lev­els builds up the birds’ bone strength and also pro­vides them with train­ing dur­ing the grow­ing phase for ac­cess­ing nests and perches in the lay­ing house. The min­i­mum stan­dards of space ap­ply whether you have 10 hens or 10,000. While many small flock keep­ers may have a small coop and their birds are let out to roam free each day, many con­fine their birds to a small shed, or a shed with an out­door run, or a small coop with an at­tached run which they move around the gar­den. Some breed­ers of heritage breeds may also con­fine their birds to small cages or hutches, es­pe­cially dur­ing the show sea­son, to ac­cus­tom their birds to con­fine­ment. The rel­e­vant min­i­mum stan­dards ap­ply equally in all of these cases.

1SPACEa cage, must be al­lowed a min­i­mum 550cm² per bird; in colony cages it’s a min­i­mum of 750 cm² (or 13 birds per square me­tre); in barns where birds are on the floor but have no out­door ac­cess it must not ex­ceed seven birds per square me­tre; if out­door ac­cess is avail­able the max­i­mum is nine hens per square me­tre.

If you have a small coop with an at­tached run or one of those which has an over­head coop ac­cessed by a ramp and a run area be­low, you’ll find they are usu­ally sold with a rec­om­mended num­ber of birds which can com­fort­ably be housed, but mea­sure­ments and suit­abil­ity of the run area should al­ways be checked. This type of run is not suit­able when you have birds of mul­ti­ple ages and both males

and fe­males in a small area, even if the mea­sure­ments com­ply. In a com­mer­cial sce­nario, the birds housed are al­most al­ways of the same age and size so is­sues with hen peck­ing or male/fe­male ag­gres­sion are less of a prob­lem.

Where out­door rang­ing area is avail­able, the stock­ing den­sity must not ex­ceed 2500 birds per hectare. How­ever, the rec­om­mended best prac­tice is 900 birds per hectare as things like soil type, drainage and flock ro­ta­tion will vary from place to place.

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ac­cess to feed­ers and wa­ter, air tem­per­a­ture and qual­ity, hu­mid­ity, lit­ter qual­ity and ac­tiv­ity lev­els, so as to main­tain good health and wel­fare. (b) Not­with­stand­ing (a), stock­ing den­sity in sheds must not ex­ceed 38kg of live weight per square me­tre of floor space. (c) Out­door stock­ing den­sity must not ex­ceed the ca­pac­ity of the out­side area or cause over­crowd­ing.

The codes also in­clude use­ful out­door flock man­age­ment tips for small flock own­ers. Hens with ac­cess are ob­served to use the out­side range fre­quently, so it’s im­por­tant to: • keep pug­ging, stand­ing wa­ter and muddy, dusty or con­tam­i­nated con­di­tions to a min­i­mum – the area im­me­di­ately around the barn should be man­aged to keep hens’ feet clean; • keep the range free of poi­sonous plants and con­tam­i­nants; • run a sys­tem of range ro­ta­tion that takes ac­count of the type of soil, drainage and flock size; • en­hance the range to en­cour­age hens to use the en­tire area so they feel safe to move away from the barn, open­ing and perime­ter by in­clud­ing trees, shrubs,

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