Dry litter is important
for the health and growth of birds
A correctly dimensioned and adjusted ventilation system and proper house heating before stocking is a good start for the litter. Still, an uneven distribution of the birds can lead to rapid degradation of the litter.
The birds instinctively seek to rest in dark areas where they crowd together in small groups. They give off body heat, leading to an increase in litter temperature. Warm litter means dry litter. In those areas of the house where birds do not crowd together, the litter is not being heated. It becomes cold and most often damp, possibly even wet. The birds do not like lying down in cold and wet areas, starting a vicious circle leading to even bigger patches with poor litter.
The following measures can adjust the birds' behavior in the livestock house:
- Light intensity
- Equal light distribution
The difference between the highest and lowest light intensity should not exceed 20-30%. It means that where the light intensity right under the light source is 20 lux, the light intensity in the darkest area should be at least 14 lux (20 lux - 30% = 14 lux). The birds distribute unevenly in the house when the light intensity difference exceeds the threshold value. Obviously, one must always adhere to existing legislation in the country in question.
Light intensity adapted to the age of birds
The recommended light intensity depends on the age of the birds. A day-old chicken requires a very high light intensity. Eyes are not yet fully developed, and it does not know where the feed is. Hence, it needs a high light intensity. After the first week, the light intensity can be reduced to avoid stress and to control growth. Toward the latter part of the growth period, it may be necessary to increase the light intensity to stimulate the feeding urge and achieve maximum gain.
Use a light program to avoid leg problems
A light program covers the physiological needs of the birds and has a behaviorally regulating effect. Studies show that birds have fewer leg problems when a light program is used to provide dark periods.
SKOV developed an advanced light control integrated into our production controllers DOL 535 and DOL 539. The controllers allow the user to select desired light programs. The program consists of three different types of light; primary light, slave light, and inspection light that the producer can set to ON or OFF independently of each other for the desired periods. Additionally, light sources can be supplied with a dimmer to allow for varying light intensities.