It is recommended to transfer the birds between 15 and 18 weeks. The birds should have time to become familiar with the new environment before they start to lay.
If the feed and water systems used in the rearing and the laying house are similar it will help the birds make a smooth transition. The same light program as in the rearing house should be applied. Good communication and coordination between the rearing and the laying house is necessary to synchronize ﬂock management.
The bird should have enough space, especially in hot climates. Important is not only cm² of cage ﬂoor/bird, but also the height of the cage and how many cm of feeder and how many drinkers are available per bird (a minimal recommendation is given in table 5).
Overstocking has a strong impact on mortality, body weight and body weight uniformity, feathering status and, ﬁnally, in eggs laid per hen. In addition, local legislation should be respected.
Transport should be planned well in advanced and all staﬀ involved should be informed. Withhold feed for a few hours before loading but continue to provide fresh water. Transport equipment should be in good condition and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The staﬀ in charge of handling and moving the birds should follow the biosecurity regulations, wear clean clothing and footwear that have not been exposed to poultry. Choose the best time of the day for transportation (especially in hot climates).
Load quickly but with care and maintain an adequate stocking density in the transport trolleys. Continue to ventilate the house during the procedure. The staﬀ should be well trained and should handle the birds according to animal welfare regulations, catching and holding the birds by both shanks. Ensure enough ventilation for the birds between loading and unloading.
Transport time should be as short as possible, avoiding unnecessary stops. Avoid moving the birds during the part of the day with more extreme temperatures, or when climate conditions could have a negative eﬀect on the birds.
Hens will lose some weight during the transport depending on the duration and the temperature. This loss will be quickly recovered if the housing conditions are correct.
Applying an “all-in all-out” system is recommended to break disease cycles and improve the health status. The laying house should have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected in advance. The transfer should be done as smoothly and quickly as possible to allow the birds to be well prepared for the start of laying. The temperature in the laying house should be between 18 and 24 °C. Cool water and feed must be available when the pullets arrive at the house.
When possible use the containers/crates also ones a day, and/or clean containers in between.
In this way you prevent infection from layer to rearing house!
The drinkers should be set at the correct height and correct pressure to encourage the birds to drink. Lower pressure for the ﬁrst few days will help. During the ﬁrst days check frequently that the birds are drinking. Adapting to a new drinker system could be diﬃcult (especially if pullets have been reared with a diﬀerent kind of drinker). If water consumption does not increase in the days after housing, or it fails to reach normal levels, corrective measures should be taken at once.
Feeders should be ﬁlled when the pullets arrive so it is easy for them to locate the feed. Also encourage the birds to eat by running the feeding lines more frequently. If pullets are reluctant to eat after a couple of days, corrective measures should be taken at once.
Continue with the same feeding program and let them also empty the feeders ones a day. Avoid changing the feed presentation between the rearing to the production.
24-hour light can be set during the ﬁrst day, so the birds can become familiar with the new environment. After that try to continue with the lighting program that was set in the rearing house. Light intensity can be a little higher during the ﬁrst week (20 lux ) to encourage hens to explore the house. Avoid over-stimulating hens by a higher light intensity.
Weight lost during transport should be recovered in the ﬁrst days in the house. The birds should continue gaining body weight and maintain a good ﬂock weight uniformity to achieve a good start of production.
Observe the behaviour of the birds carefully and take actions if needed.
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