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Transfer (15 -18 Weeks)

  • How to prepare a flock for transfer to the laying house.
  • How to transfer a flock correctly to the laying house.
  • How to house a flock correctly in the laying house.

 

Preparing the flock to move to the laying house

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. As the page 25 graph shows, good communication and coordination between the rearing and the laying house is necessary to synchronize flock management.

  • It is good management practice to visit the pullets several times during the rearing period.
  • Complete the vaccination program before transfer.
  • Where possible do not administer vaccine during the transport or in the catching process.

Stocking density in the laying house

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 to the laying house

Preparation

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).

Loading

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

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.v

In all cases

  • Do not catch hens by one wing or one leg or the neck.
  • Do not overstock transport trolleys.
  • Do not leave hens in trolleys in sun-light or unventilated areas.
  • Do not load trolleys in closed and unventilated trailers.

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.

When to move the birds?


Housing in the laying house

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!

Water

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.

Feed

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.

Light

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

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.

Behaviour

Observe the behaviour of the birds carefully and take actions if needed.


Key Points


  • Transfer the birds at least two weeks before the onset of lay.
  • Only transfer flocks that are healthy and in good condition.
  • Plan transport in advance and organize it well to ensure optimal comfort for the birds.
  • Avoid transferring flocks during high temperatures. Transport by night if necessary.
  • Monitor the body weight before and after transfer to guarantee that the flock is
    developing correctly.
  • Closely monitor water consumption during the week after arrival at the laying house.
  • No vaccinations during transfer where possible.
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