What are poultry rearing systems?
Poultry rearing systems refers to the type of containment strategy used to hold layer or broiler chicken during rearing.
Usually, layers and broilers are raised:
- in cages
- on deep litter
- free range on pasture
Why are poultry rearing systems important?
Containment relates to control and also quality.
Restricting the movement of your flock adds to your control over their:
- activity and movement
- (if they are layer hens) depositing of eggs
- access to feed and water
- accumulation of manure
Caged birds will grant you greater precision with the patterns of birds movement.
Reducing your labour cost and land capital investment.
This, however, comes at the cost of denying the birds a more physically demanding and nutritionally variable rearing experience, as with free-range.
Free-range poultry farming depends on your land availability and suitability.
This comes at a capital cost both for land acquisition and maintenance.
With an otherwise more compact system like caged or deep litter you’ll naturally require less land capacity.
Which comes at a lower cost.
So in short, there is a benefit-cost trade-off.
There are many factors to weigh up here.
But a principal decision to make is:
(a) Higher perceived consumer quality and acceptable premium pricing
(b) More cost efficiency and budget-priced product.
The overall ROI on the rearing system should be considered.
Take a look at this way –
Upfront costs to purchase cages is a capital expense.
Whereas deep litter material to get started costs much less by comparison.
But in the long run, the production control benefits from semi-intensive cage rearing might return much greater margin than the deep litter method.
Within a layer farm operation, for example, the collection of eggs is both an expense and a risk.
If hens are allowed to wander and lay their eggs anywhere onsite, this:
(a) makes it harder work for your farmhands to collect product daily
(b) increases the operational risk of breakages
The rearing method chosen has bearing on labour efficiency and production waste.
Think things through carefully.
Quality of product
There are fairly sound arguments both for and against the various forms of rearing.
It is reasonable to accept though that different rearing conditions give rise to different product qualities.
Research well the possible impact of one method vs another.