The type of housing where layers are kept plays a remarkable role in the well-being, nutrition and management practices carried out on the birds. Caged layer fatigue is one of the impaired health conditions of hens in battery cage system. There are several pathogens causing different poultry diseases but cage fatigue is a nutritional and environmental disease; heat stress in poultry also belongs to this category.
Layers kept in battery cage are prone to cage fatigue; the battery cage system is very useful in poultry as it helps to maximize space. However, it calls for more attention. Rearing hen in battery cage requires modifications of in all that pertains with the hen, such as feeding and medications if you really want them to be productive.
Caged layer fatigue is a condition whereby healthy and alert hens at a high level or peak of their egg production find it difficult to stand and walk. You would observe that the hen is healthy and alert, in fact, she would lay eggs but she remains on a spot; if not properly managed, it could lead to death through dehydration.
Causes Of Caged Layer Fatigue
The primary cause of fatigue in caged layers is lack of exercise. The same way you feel as a human when you have been restricted and lack basic exercise is the same as the hen feels.
In the standard guide of constructing a poultry house, it is very imperative structure to make the hen exercise their body is provided. Structures like perch to make the birds fly from one point to another, dust bath to make the birds massage their body and others to get the birds working always.
Contrary to what farmers believe, these structures do not reduce the performance of the laying bird, they make the birds fit to produce always. Everything that has life needs exercise to work their body for better performance.
Reduced Intake Or Deficiency Of Calcium And Phosphorus In The Layers Diet
In the absence of exercise, a fortified layer diet must be provided to manage the hens for a specific period so that their performance is not compromised. It is not as if the fortified diet takes the place of the exercise. No, it does not. It is just a way of managing the hen to ensure their production level is maintained.
Calcium and phosphorus are the two minerals required by caged layers in high quantity for some reasons; to replace the calcium and phosphorus absorbed during egg formation, to produce strong shell quality for strong bone formation and to meet the layers mineral requirement. Calcium and phosphorus are required in a ratio of 2:1 in laying hens; at least 4% calcium must be present in diet served to caged layers.
Poor Absorption Of Calcium And Phosphorus
This brings us to the characteristics of feed ingredients and the use of exogenous enzymes in layers feed.
Some feedstuffs contain anti-nutritional factors that reduce the digestibility of the feedstuff. Examples are sorghum that contains tannin, soybean that contains protease inhibitors; what these antinutrients do is to bind with the targeted nutrient or mineral in that feedstuff such that they are made unavailable for the bird to utilize, hence, the birds show signs of deficiency in terms of cage fatigue.
The use of these exogenous enzymes makes the nutrients and minerals available for the hen to use.
Signs Of Caged Layer Fatigue In Hen
When your hen exhibits any of these signs, you should know it is cage fatigue.
- Hen becomes lame and unable to stand and walk.
- Hen stays on a particular side at the back of the cage.
- The eggshell becomes weak.
- Trembling and weak legs.
Control And Treatment Of Caged Layer Fatigue
As said earlier, cage fatigue is not caused by any pathogen; it is an environmental and nutritional disease. You can treat cage fatigue in layers using any of these ideas:
- Remove the hen from the cage and keep on the bare floor (deep litter) where she can walk normally.
- Calcium and phosphorus supplementation with limestone or oyster shell.
- Depopulate birds in a cage to create more space.
- Vitamins and electrolytes supplements on a regular basis.
One thing you need to understand is, hens in cages are not in the good environmental condition as they have been restricted to exhibit their innate characters; hence, they need to be complemented, nutritionally and environmentally, to perform up to their genetic potential. One of the ways hens express their dissatisfaction in a battery cage is cage fatigue. This is one of the disadvantages of keeping hens in battery cages.
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