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Report, 2003

Utvärdering av "Aviplus" - Big Dutchman - inredd bur för 10 värphöns enligt 7§ Djurskyddsförordningen och enligt SJV:s Ny-teknik provningsprogram

Tauson, Ragnar; Holm, Karl-Erik


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS The commercial model of the furnished cage “Aviplus” for 10 birds (Figs. 1-3) manufactured by Big Dutchman International GmbH, originates from further development through applied research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Funbo-Lövsta (1997-), Uppsala and by commercial development in Sweden by the company. The Aviplus fulfilled the minimum requirements in the CEC-directive 1999/74 and provided 600cm2 cage floor space/hen, 12 cm feed trough length/hen, 121 cm2 nest area /hen and 157 cm2 litter area /hen. After finishing the first study with 600 birds during one batch at Funbo-Lövsta, several technical alterations were carried out by the manufacturer to the original model at Lövsta aiming to be more suitable for commercial lengths of the construction. From summer in 1999 until autumn 2002 the Aviplus has been evaluated from an animal welfare point of view according to the 7§ of the Swedish Animal Welfare Ordinance (1988:539) of compulsory evaluation of New Technique for commercial animal housing systems. This program comprises a special evaluation procedure for laying hens in alternative systems and was also used in a very similar design when aviary systems were evaluated in the early- and mid 1990´s. Generally, it consists of two parts; one “Experimental Phase” in controlled experimental conditions and after that a “Field Phase A” run at a stipulated and limited number of sold installations in commercial units (normally max. 10 farms or 100,000 bird places). The Field Phase can only be entered if the results of the Experimental Phase are regarded as “promising”. The program is run under the auspices of the Swedish Board of Agriculture (SJV) who appoints a scientist in charge at a department at University level. The scientific team successively reports on the results from the evaluation from individual batches of birds to the Board. The Board makes the final decision on approval of a system. The basics of the evaluation program are results obtained on health condition, mortality and production in relation to stipulated minimum requirements. The registrations of health traits (Figs. 6-13) and live weight (Fig. 14) are carried out at visits at two ages to each flock (35 weeks of age and 55-65 w.).The health evaluation is made by scoring the exterior appearance of a minimum of 100 randomly selected birds in the whole house using a scale of 1, 2, 3 or 4 points. The score 1 means a severe damage/defect and the score 4 means a very good condition. Only scores 1 and 2 are included in the minimum requirements which in turn consist of the calculated total proportion of the scored birds showing the scores 1-2. At the visits by two inspectors also air condition is recorded (NH3, Rh, dust, inside and outside/inside temperature) (Figs. 28-34). Apart from this, there is registration of accumulated mortality (16-80w.; Table 1 and Fig. 4) and production (20-80 w.; Table 1 and Fig. 5). Not all flocks are kept to that late age. Behaviour studies are carried out on use of facilities (perch and litter box) every 8:th week (Figs. 15-21) by the producer and of feather pecking and pecking in six different categories at direct observation of the scientific team at the visits (Figs. 22-27). In some cases in this report examples of certain bird behaviours (use of facilities) have been given from some flocks rather than from every single flock. In principle, to get a final approval, the stipulated minimum requirements should be passed in the flocks. However, the Board may accept “occasional poor results”, e.g. evolved through external disturbances or development of the system. During the evaluation process the system may be successively modified according to experiences obtained. The present report gives results from a total of 18 flocks (Table 1) and 216,000 hens in 10 buildings and 8 producers on mortality and production and 26 scorings of 13 flocks. Some late flocks in the program were either only run through a stipulated less intensive program or even reported on a free basis on mortality and production (see below). In the present report each farm and flock are given a code representing time of installation (since August 1999) and flock number, i.e. 1(I) or 1(II). As beak trimming is prohibited in Sweden all birds had intact beaks. Three different genotypes, all white, were used. All birds were reared in cages. Age at housing was normally 16 w. but some flocks were housed a week or two later. The Aviplus got final approval by the Board in January 2002 when the Board had the right to make a decision after 8 reported flocks. This implies that after this date only those extra flocks that had already started the full program were to be continued in the full testing program and other new flocks (5) only had to report mortality and production. In conclusion the Aviplus in its latest design for 10 birds has been shown to offer birds important extra facilities compared to a conventional cage. These facilities, which are frequently used, allow birds to perform important natural behaviours. Especially the nest but also the perch are extensively used. Probably because the litter bath is quite convenient to enter, the use of this facility is also considerable when inspected 30 min after opening. The litter bath normally can carry two birds at the time and occasionally three. The results from the testing have during a considerable time been suffering from disturbances both originating from the system per se but also from other problems. Among the former the technical reliability of the litter belt as regards the filling and distribution has been creating problems in various ways. This meant that in many of the houses installed , birds did not have access to litter. Also the closing grid mechanism to the litter belt had to be modified several times. The belt was normally run every 2-7 days. Further more, it was observed that perches installed crosswise the cage, i.e. from the feed trough towards the litter bath at rear, created build up of manure in the corner towards the nest wall on the floor as well as onto the edge of the litter bath. This is the most likely cause to some outbreaks of coccidiosis at various degrees registered in some flocks. The successive change over to parallel perches to the trough and litter belt arrangement eliminated the build up of manure on the cage floor in this area. At a very varying degree the Astro-turf nest pads were contaminated with manure in some farms especially in the bottom tier. However, in some farms hygiene was very good. The effect of genotype behaviour and locomotion in the cage may explain this finding and variation together with different light inflow on the bottom tier caused by light system and widths of the aisles. The results were also negatively affected by the fact that during the period of testing, the most common hybrid in Sweden suffered from leucosis regardless of housing systems. Also, in the first batches a genotype was used which was later removed from the Swedish market mainly due to inferior production capacity and nervousness. The fact that facilities like egg belt, nest and litter bath is located at the rear of the cage implies that the operator should pay special attention to inspection of this area, e.g. before running the egg belt. Although feather pecking was present in most flocks it was mostly not very severe, especially if the lack of litter and the use of a problematic genotype mostly in the first flocks are considered. The same was true for aggressive behaviours. Other health scores included in the evaluation program were also seldom exceeding the requirements apart from dirty plumage as a result mainly of the hygienic properties mentioned. Still if some draw backs in the test regarding different factors especially in the first production cycles, layers in the Aviplus have been shown to give mortality rates and production figures which are similar to conventional cages, e.g. in relation to Danish data from commercial farms with conventional cages during this time (Danish Poultry Council, ,2002). Air condition was normally very good with low levels of NH3, moderate levels of dust and CO2. Measurements were carried out at different times of the year and relate to normal conditions in the South part of Sweden. The Aviplus must be regarded as one of several new commercial models of a furnished cage system. In Sweden small group furnished cages have been in use since the spring of 1998 but in other countries there are still very few farms with these cages. In September 2003 about 130,000 birds are housed in the Aviplus system in Swedish commercial farms and another 1,300,000 in other designs of furnished cages - in total representing about 25-30% of the national flock in furnished cages. Like with most new systems there is likely to be potential for further R & D with the Aviplus system. Such work has been in progress and applies also for traits not measured here like egg quality, practical handling of the litter, etc. Special attention should be given to regular inspection of the rear part of the system and to use latest designs of nest bottom linings with maximum hygienic properties. Also, through the evaluation program with the Aviplus, there have been several examples of special management practices in this system that farmers should experience compared to in a conventional cage system

Published in

Rapport / Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för husdjurens utfodring och vård
2003, number: 256
Publisher: Inst. för HUV, SLU, 750 07 UPPSALA

Authors' information

Tauson, Ragnar
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management
Holm, Karl-Erik
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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