Friday, August 28, 2009

Cage or No Cages - You Decide !

Going Back in Time

Much of the rhetoric surrounding the push for for enriched and cage free layer systems surrounds the idea of supporting repressed common poultry behavior. The question that should be asked is "Do we really have to support every behavior that the birds possess? Humans used to be hunter gatherers that would move in groups to hunt, kill and maintain territorial bounds by force. We obviously no longer do all that, but are we frustrating ourselves as other groups feel we are imposing on chickens in cages?

If we are placing birds on wire, not in dirt do they really need to bathe in dust? In my years of work I have seen most behaviors exhibited in both cage and cage free systems. Yes, layers will simulate dust bathing, wing & leg stretching and so forth. I have also seen gang picking in larger aviary and range situations as well.

The answer to housing poultry is to look to bird behavior that we wish to support, and more importantly pay to support. If US consumers wish to have cage free production, they will need to support all the requirements of such production. If humane caged (e.g. UEP) systems are important then consumers should financially support those activities as well. There is no free lunch and each system has both positive and negative aspects. What is needed is choice; pushing for markets without choice in the US is against the tenets of capitalism itself. The market will ultimately tell the consumers choice of what is important to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Sweating Feed Bin

During the heat of late summer and rain, be sure to inspect feed bins for feed that may hang near seams and at the top. Be sure to look up every now and then to make sure feed tank fill doors are securely closed to keep out the rain. Your feed mill does everything it can to eliminate mold; you should not be the source of new contamination. Considering the price of feed these days, you don't want to see spoiled expenses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Not the Heat but the Humidity

As we run downhill into fall and some of the hottest weather, be sure to compensate for humidity. As % relative humidity (RH) rises the efforts that the bird needs to make in order to cool itselfself also rises. The holding capacity of the air for water decreases so increases in ventilation rates must be made in help keep heat in check.