This is the most important basic principle in housing, as the space available determines the number and type of poultry that can be kept. For example, a deep litter house measuring 6 m by 11 m can hold 200 laying hens at a stock density of 3 birds/m2 .
Hen groups are comfortable at a stock density of three to four birds per square meter. If more space is allowed, a greater variety of behavior can be expressed. Less space creates stressed social behavior, allowing disease vulnerability and cannibalism and leaving weaker birds deprived of feed or perch space. Individual birds need more room for normal behavior and adequate exercise than the 22 birds/m2 density currently used in commercial laying cages.
1typical white-egg layer
2typical brown-egg layer
Floor space requirements for free-run, indoor systems vary considerably depending on breed, ambient temperature and whether any or the entire floor consists of wire or wooden slats. In general, the most space is required in systems with 100% litter floors, and the least where the floor is entirely wire or slats. Producers should interpolate between the extremes in the following table based on individual circumstances.
Broilers and replacement pullets should be raised at one bird per sq ft (0.09 sq m) while leghorn layers over 20 weeks of age should be housed at 1.5 sq ft (0.14 sq m) per bird and medium size layers at 1.75 sq ft (0.16 sq m).
Linear space or length of perch per bird is measured in centimeters. The recommended floor and perching space for the three main types of chicken is shown in below
To avoid excessive competition and minimize eggs laid on the floor, one nest should be provided for every five hens. If larger communal nests are used, at least one square meter per 50 birds should be allowed. Nest boxes for individual hens should measure approximately 30 cm on all sides, with a nest floor area of about 0.1 m2 .
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