In Summary
  • In battery cage, greater number of birds are reared per unit area.
  • Land or free space is becoming a limiting factor and this is why free-range system of poultry rearing is near obsolete.
  • Feeding management in cages has to be carefully considered since many farmers mostly rely on mash or crumbs for production.
  • Battery cage is associated with higher incidences of leg problem, cage fatigue, fatty liver syndrome which is increased deposition of fat in the body.

Broadly, there are different systems of rearing chicken namely free-range (extensive), semi-intensive, folding units and intensive systems.

To a large extent, chicken production especially at commercial level, heavily relies on intensive systems, with the common ones being battery cage and deep litter systems.

The choice of system to use is mainly dictated by available resources with deep litter undisputedly being the most widely used across the country.

In recent years, battery cage has been gaining popularity, making farmers choose between the two based on purpose and preference.

This article gives insights to how the two systems compare, to further inform your choice.

Briefly, battery cage system entails rearing birds in compartment units where floors are of standard strong galvanised wire (plastic also available) that slope from back to the front.

This allows eggs laid to roll out of the cage to a receiving gutter while food receptacles are outside the cage and water supplied with pipes bearing drinking nipples.

Deep litter, on the other hand, is a system where chickens are reared on floors made of concrete but covered with litters like saw dust or wood shavings to make birds feel comfortable.

Poultry equipment sets such as feeding and drinking troughs are then placed in convenient places inside the coop.

Initial capital
In both cases, construction of poultry houses are required.

Land or free space is becoming a limiting factor and this is why free-range system of poultry rearing is near obsolete.

In urban areas, hardly can a poultry farmer spare open land for rearing chicken, therefore, going intensive proves the worth of keeping the birds in minimum spaces.

Further, deep litter requires drinkers and feeders as well as litter for floors which cost a lot, especially if one chooses automatic drinkers and feeders.

For instance, plastic tube feeders’ cost between Sh600 and Sh700 each, while automatic drinkers’ costs between Sh1,200-Sh1,400 each.

Of the two, battery cage is the most intensive system as greater number of birds are reared per unit area, but it needs more initial capital considering the cost of cages.

Nonetheless, this system requires higher maintenance costs as one has to deal with things like mechanical faults.

Management and laying performance

Feeding management in cages has to be carefully considered since many farmers mostly rely on mash or crumbs for production.

This is not enough, so some form of grit must be offered.

Compared to deep litter, it may come as a surprise to learn that built-up litter also supplies some food requirements for the birds as they obtain ‘animal protein factor’ from the trash.

However, there is more wastage of feeds and water by birds under deep litter system.

Provided both systems are set up under proper ventilation, correct light-intensity, duration, temperature, vermin-proof houses and that feeds meet all nutritional needs, they have proven successful.

Samuel Kinyua, a farm manager at a poultry farmer in Nyeri.

Samuel Kinyua, a farm manager at a poultry farmer in Nyeri adjusts an automatic water drinker for chicks. Under deep litter system, birds run and mingle freely thereby creating free social welfare. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Previous researches, however, hand battery cage system remarkable results, arguing that birds spend minimal energy and lessen the load of excess body heat.

This energy is instead directed towards egg production.

In battery cage system, it is also easy to monitor egg laying performance of each bird making culling an easy exercise.

Page 1 of 2