Ventilation for all types of layers
In intensive commercial egg production or layer farming there are four production systems used; cages, barn, free range and organic production. Correct ventilation is key to reach the optimum production output of eggs.
The conventional battery cages have been banned in the European union since 2012 and the cages used there now are of the type ‘enriched’ cages. Enriched cages must allow at least 750 cm2 per hen, and contain a nest, litter, perch and clawing-board. The alternatives to cages are barn or free range rearing systems.
Free-range eggs come from hens that should have access to an outdoor area during the day. A barn production system means that hens are free to move around in the barn area, limited only by partitions. Aviary systems is commonly used today in Europe, a system which allows the hens to move around freely in an open area, with a non-cage system which may be single or multi-tier (up to four levels).
Organic egg production requires organic feed, the birds must have access to the outdoors and cannot be raised in cages. Furthermore, organic egg producers cannot use antibiotics, except during an infectious outbreak.
FCR, Feed Conversion Ratio is a measure of an animal’s efficiency in converting feed mass into increases of the desired output. In Layers the output is egg. There is an explicit correlation between maintaining the correct environmental indoor conditions avoiding temperature fluctuations and optimized FCR. Even the smallest changes in FCR at any given feed price can have a substantial impact on financial margins for the layer farmer.
Feed efficiency per kg egg mass
This takes into consideration of the feed intake, egg weight and egg production. It is the ratio between the feed consumed and the egg mass.
|FCR (per kg egg mass)||=||
Kg of feed consumed
Kg of egg produced
An FCR value of 2.2 or less, is advantageous for the farm.
In intensive layer production where the buildings often are 100 m in length, caged structures and aviary systems offer unique ventilation challenges. Fans need to operate against a very high static pressure, sometimes up to 100 Pa. For Munters this need has been addressed by the EM52 2.0 Hp fan which offers unsurpassed performance and efficiency at high static pressure. This fan (and many other in Munters portfolio) is also compliant with the requirements of Directive 2009/125/EC.
In summary, the key elements for getting the best production results from laying hens are; breeding (getting the best genetic material), making sure to get the most efficient utilization of feed, keeping the birds healthy and safeguarding a controlled environment in the layer barn.
The environment in the barn comprises light control (regulates sexual maturity), avoiding stress for the birds and of course assuring adequate ventilation capacity and air exchange rate to maintain air quality and avoid heat stress. In colder climate zones, minimum ventilation rate is crucial to avoid suffocation of the layer hens and ensure a good egg laying rate. Correct temperature must be kept in relation to the birds’ ages, avoiding temperature swings and maintaining a uniform climate inside the barn. Ammonia emission control can be instrumental in densely populated areas to be able to expand the farming operations.