Keywords: laying hens, stocking density, cage battery, egg production, safety
The influence of different floor areas in cages on the productivity, safety and economic performance of laying hens was evaluated. The study was carried out on chickens of the Ukrainian breed Birkivska barvysta of the egg production direction, the gene pool of which is preserved in the State Poultry Research Station of NAAS. The total number of birds in the experiment was 568 laying hens.The experiment was carried out using cages with an area of 90 × 90 cm when placing in them 7, 8, 9 and 10 birds, which corresponded to a stocking density of 1157.1, 1012.5, 900 and 810 cm2 per hen. The experiment lasted 33 weeks, starting at 17 weeks of age. The weight of the birds was determined by individual weighing at the beginning and the end of the experiment. Accounting for egg production, feed costs and mortality was carried out daily, the weight of eggs was determined at the age of 30 weeks by weighing the daily harvest in the context of groups. It has been established that stocking density significantly affects the main zootechnical and economic indicators of keeping laying hens. A decrease in the cage area to 810 cm2 per hen due to an increase in the number of birds in it led to a significant decrease in egg production, final live weight and safety, as well as to a deterioration in feed conversion (P<0.05). At the same time, the change in stocking density did not have a particular effect on egg weight. The obtained results show that the optimal placement for cages of this type is the placement of 7-8 layers in them at a stocking density of 1000-1150 cm2 per hen and a feeder lengthof 11-12.5 cm.Under such conditions, due to higher egg production by 21-27 pieces, safety by 5.5-6.2% and lower feed costs for 10 eggs, by 0.46-0.56 kg from one layer received 53.5-69 UAH additional gains compared to 810 cm2 per hen with a 9 cm feeder length.Placing birds of 10 heads in a cage, although it allows increasing its number in the poultry house by 43%, as a result of an excessive reduction in the area of feeding and drinking, harms its productive and economic indicators. That is, the increase in space for the birds – is a management tool that can be used to optimize the performance of egg production, preservation and consumption of feed in laying hens.
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