- Parent Category: Poultry Housing
- Published on 19 August 2011
Layer houses for small poultry farmers
Small chicken farmers who want to start an egg production business will need a layer house. A layer house is poultry unit specifically designed to place nest boxes or layer cages in the chicken house. A layer chicken house must wider and higher than a broiler house. It must also have larger poultry curtain openings.
Intensive egg production chicken house
Intensive egg production is when the chickens are kept in layer cages - A layer cage is a wire cage made up of a series of bays. Generally the whole layer cage has a starter section which has small water tanks for medication, and then you can add as many follower sections as your house length will allow. The new generation of layer cages can hold up to 7 birds per bay. The layer cages are stacked - 2 tiers high.
The layer cage uses a nipple drinking system for distributing water to the chickens, and a galvanised trough down the front for the layer mash or chicken food. The width of the house should be wide enough so as to allow easy access all around the layer cages for cleaning and egg collection.
Organic egg production and free range eggs
Free range egg farming is becoming a profitable for of layer production. The public is willing to pay a premium for free range eggs and organic eggs. The type of chicken house does not vary - it is the same layer house as an intensive egg production house. The main difference is the way you keep the chickens. When you are doing free range eggs or organic eggs you may not keep the hens in a layer cage. You will need to use nest boxes for the hens to lay eggs in. Another key difference is that the chickens will need to be able to move in and out of the house freely. To achieve this an organic chicken house or free range poultry unit must have free range flaps down the sides of the house. The other method is known as pop holes. These allow the hens to enter and exit the house at will. It also allows you to close your chicken coop at night once the hens are in.
The layer unit, or hens house itself has a few key differences to a broiler house. Width, height and poultry curtain openings. The width must accommodate the layer cages or nest boxes and allow an egg trolley or wheel barrow to move around freely. The height must be high enough so that the nest boxes are not too close to the roof. The poultry curtain openings must be large - almost to the ground so that you have full ventilation - this will keep the litter dry and the hen house cool. As with all chicken houses, the curtains should have a robust winch, a foot bath, thermometers. heaters and fans. Your laying house will also have a water tank on the roof to supply water to the nipple drinkers. Poultry heaters and fans are optional depending on how hot or cold the climate is in your area. Another optional extra is to use insulation in the roof of the layer house. This will cut down on operating costs in terms of heating and cooling. If you are buying point of lay hens you probably will not need a gas heater - but if you are getting day old laying hens - or pullets, you will need a poultry gas heater.
Small layer houses for emerging farmers and for small poultry farming are usually built on site - even in the most remote areas. To run a successful poultry unit you will need a good water supply and electricity. Most companies who build steel structures for chicken farming in South Africa require that the ground is level, and if you want you chicken house or layer house on a concrete slab you may have to lay the slab yourself. Laying a concrete slab for your chicken coop yourself is a lot cheaper than contracting the poultry equipment supplier to do it.