As the professional poultry farming equipment manufacturer in China, Livi industry is always in the leading position of the product quality and the poultry cage designs among many supplier of poultry cages and the poultry cages designs.
Like most branches of animal agriculture, the poultry industry tends to focus its production efforts on maximizing efficiency and profitability. Even at the premium tiers of the market, free-range and organic producers design their barns, their lighting systems, and even their best automatic feeding system for poultry layouts with an eye on the bottom line, not on the needs of the birds they’re raising.
Introducing chicken-centered design
In an age of transparency, agricultural producers increasingly need to create a farm environment that is not only economic and efficient, but also appealing. Chicken-centered design can narrow the gap between conventional industry practices and consumer expectations by producing environments that improve welfare and are more in keeping with the unique needs of the birds.
The first step toward designing such environments is understanding the chicken. The modern day chicken’s ancestor was the southeast Asian red jungle fowl. It lived in a varied forested environments with a normal day-and-night light cycle and relatively high temperatures and humidity. According to research by biologist Marian Dawkins, the sheltering canopy of trees provided protection from predators and harsh weather, and elevation and branches gave the jungle fowl opportunities to perch. The covered forest ground enabled it to spend up to 60% of its day scratching and pecking for food as well as dust-bathing to keep its feathers clean.
Understanding the difference between this environment and contemporary poultry-raising environments can help producers design solutions that maximize the welfare of their birds – and reduce problems that are common in the industry.
One example of this is the red jungle fowl’s reliance on trees, an oft-ignored aspect of the species that could have a major effect on the health and behavior of its descendants. In 2007, McDonald’s UK approached my company, Benchmark Sustainability Science, with a challenge. For a decade, they had sourced only free-range eggs; over time, however, they came to feel that these were “free” in name only. Most of their farmers were reporting that their chickens hardly went outside, and when they did, they only hovered just outside their coop. As a result, the birds were not realizing some of the potential welfare and health benefits of outdoor access.
Not only was this bad for the birds, but it was also not very good for PR. McDonald’s UK’s efforts were not generating the consumer excitement that they had hoped for.
Our hypothesis was that the open fields of free-range chicken facilities were unattractive to laying hens, as they represented the threat of the unknown, the potential of predators and the dangers of exposure to harsh weather. So we suggested trees. Seeking to mimic a key element of the red jungle fowl’s original environment, we found that simply planting trees outside hen houses made the birds range more and peck at each other far less. They reduced mortality in the flock and lowered the numbers of lower-quality “egg seconds,” subsequently boosting the farmers’ incomes.