Birds housed in a new multi-tier system have been achieving improved feed conversion rates since the unit's introduction into the United Kingdom, according to its manufacturer.
Vencomatic's Veranda Aviary system was recently installed for the first time in the UK at Elrig Farm, Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. And Vencomatic says the egg producer who bought the unit, Stewart Gerrish, has reported that birds are using significantly less feed than they would on other multi-tier units. The Scottish producer is making about a pound a bird more on the Veranda Aviary, says Kevin Howse, sales director with Vencomatic Poultry UK Ltd.
Kevin was speaking during an open day on a farm in Nottinghamshire where the UK's second Veranda Aviary system has just been installed. The installation is the first one in England and is on the farm of Hockerwood Eggs Ltd at Hockerwood Park, Southwell. For egg producer Patrick Lynn, the installation doubles production on the farm. The new 16,000-bird Veranda Aviary is in addition to an existing 16,000-bird conventional Vencomatic shed. Patrick says he considered various options before committing to the Veranda Aviary.
"Initially I was looking at whether I should go for a flat deck or multi-tier system," he said. "I looked at all the options and I was very keen that it would be very high welfare, particularly down the line with beak trimming and, at that time, the perching regulations which were potentially going to come in. We think with this system that the keel bone fractures will be less because there is less jumping about because they have ramps they can walk up without jumping about. We also think that, with birds becoming a little bit lazier, the ease of management will be better because there will be very few system eggs
because of the way the eggs
will roll into the next boxes."
roll into the nest boxes on this unit because the Veranda Aviary has been designed with a sloping slats configuration. It is one of a number of design details incorporated into the system that Vencomatic says should make it the choice for the future. The company says it is a 'massive leap forward' for bird management.
"It is a very easy system and a very open system from a management point of view; from inspection, from bird management it is very easy to cope with," said Kevin Howse. Ease of management was something that attracted Scottish producer Stewart Gerrish to the system. He went to see a unit in use in Holland and found that the Dutch producer was managing 96,000 birds on the Veranda Aviary with the same number of staff he had for two 16,000-bird units. By installing the Veranda Aviary on his farm he would be increasing bird numbers to 48,000 without increasing staffing.
Kevin Howse said that the system was easy to access, welfare ramps for the birds were designed to reduce injuries, the back of the nests were easily accessible and he said the availability of nest boxes, feeders and water
at all levels would reduce the risk of system eggs. Kevin thinks the ready availability of nests, feed and water
may have played a part in reducing feed consumption on Stewart Gerrish's unit. The fact that the birds do not have to search out feed and drink may have helped feed conversion.
"We have been finding that the birds are eating less feed than on other multi-tier units," said Kevin. "The cost of feed, of course, is very important and from what we have seen in Scotland Stewart Gerrish is making about a pound a bird more because of reduced feed and production costs," he said.
Kevin said that the Veranda Aviary was ideal for the calmer birds that breeding companies were seeking to produce because of the threat of a ban on beak trimming in the UK in 2016. "This system copes very well with a calmer bird." The design also allowed for great overview of the whole unit by the producer, he said. It was easy to see the birds throughout the unit, making them easier to manage.
Although the Veranda Aviary is new to the UK market, it has been in operation elsewhere for a couple of years.
Vencomatic says that millions of birds have gone through the system in continental Europe and across the Atlantic. And it says that the design has coped very well with more intensive production than is allowed in this country. In the UK producers work to 15 birds per square metre; in Holland the density is 18 birds per square metre.
At the open day in Nottinghamshire, producers had traveled some distance to get a closer look at the unit installed on Patrick Lynn's farm. The shed has not yet been populated, but visitors were given a guided tour of the unit, with technical experts available from Vencomatic to point out and explain the design features incorporated into the Veranda Aviary. Producers were even able to enjoy a hog roast whilst discussing the pros and cons of Vencomatic's new system.
A third unit will be installed on a farm in the UK shortly. Kevin Howse says there has been strong interest in the Veranda Aviary from British producers and he expects other installations to follow.