As a farmer, you’ve probably heard the term “poultry enrichment” thrown around. What you might not realize is how important enrichment is for your coop.
Poultry enrichment offers many benefits for all parties involved. In addition to keeping your chickens healthy and happy, it helps you provide better products and comply with regulations.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn how to incorporate poultry enrichment on your farm. You’ll discover what regulations you need to follow and products that will help you comply.
Why Enrichment Is Essential for Poultry Farming?
Some farmers might hesitate to use poultry enrichment techniques. They might think it’s not important or worth the effort.
However, poultry enrichment is one of the best things you can do for your harm. Here are some reasons why:
It Keeps Your Chickens Healthy
In the past, people have assumed that chickens lack cognitive abilities. However, mounting evidence suggests otherwise. Experts say that domestic fowl demonstrate social and emotional intelligence.
As a result, captivity can be depriving. Chickens may start to exhibit behaviours, including:
- Feather picking
- Egg eating
Enrichment can prevent these behaviours. It mimics a chicken’s natural environment, thus providing them with the physical and mental stimulation they need.
It Offers Economic Advantages
When you keep your chickens healthy, you not only fulfil your moral obligations as a farmer. You will also be helping your bottom line.
Research suggests that enrichment can result in improved reproductive performance. Healthier chickens and more eggs mean more profits.
So, if you hesitate because you think it’ll be too expensive, don’t. The cost of poultry enrichment will pay for itself (and then some).
It Helps You Comply with Regulations
As a poultry farmer, there are many regulations you must comply with. Compliance will give your operation a good reputation and keep it in good legal standing.
Important Enrichment Requirements to Comply
When you raise chickens, you must follow certain regulations. Using enrichment techniques is often part of these requirements.
But what exactly are the requirements?
Know that there are many regulations you must follow. They will depend on where you live, what kind of farm you own/what kind of operations you run, etc. Check with local governing bodies to ensure that your farm is compliant.
RSPCA Welfare Standards
These standards are based on the RSPCA’s five basic freedoms. When you follow them, your chickens should be free:
- Thirst and hunger
- Pain, injury, and disease
- Fear and distress
- To express normal behaviour
The welfare standards are a good place to start as they are comprehensive. You can expect a well-rounded perspective as they draw from:
- UK legislation
- Scientific research
- Government welfare codes
- Veterinary advice
- Recommendations from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC)
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the guides linked above. If you are looking for a summary, here are some of the key requirements you must meet:
Chickens should have constant access to food. Their diets should be well-rounded, appropriate for their breed, and meet their nutritional needs. When giving the food to chickens, you should use feeders that allow them to hone their natural eating instincts.
Additionally, you should ensure the safe and efficient transportation of feed. You must maintain hygiene standards and prevent wetting, infestation, contamination, etc.
Like with food, chickens should have access to water at all times. You must test the water regularly to ensure it meets safety standards. Use drinking systems that are easily accessible to your birds.
The coop must be a healthy, safe place for chickens to live. It should be properly vented, temperature-controlled, and use natural daylight. The electrical structures should be inaccessible and the litter should be hygienic.
Chickens must have access to enrichment objects. Pecking objects, perches, and straw bales all promote activity. With these structures, your chickens will get the physical and mental stimulation they need.
Equipment to Assist You with Compliance
Here at Dalton Engineering, we understand the importance of poultry enrichment. Here are some products that will help you take good care of your livestock:
This pecker block is high in fibre and tastes delicious. It is made out of alfalfa and promotes gut health.
Hung at head height, they will encourage natural pecking behaviours and keep chickens entertained for hours. Note that it should be used in conjunction with their existing diet.
Like the one above, this pecker hangs at head height. However, it is made of stainless steel. It is a great option as it is reusable and easy to clean. It’s also environmentally friendly and won’t contaminate feed.
Chickens can perch themselves on this all-natural pecking block. It reduces the stress of the whole flock and promotes healthy beaks.
Last but not least, we have this bale of alfalfa. It keeps chickens active and redirects hostile behaviours. As it promotes gut health, it can reduce the nitrogen percentage in urine and droppings. This leads to a reduced infection rate among your livestock.
Most notably, our bales are finely chopped and hard-pressed. We also tie them together with five strong bands. So, you can expect them to last much longer than other bales.
The above recommendations focus on promoting natural pecking behaviours. However, poultry enrichment is important across the board. You must address food, water, lighting, temperature, etc. It will make your chickens happier and your business professional.
Browse Dalton Engineering’s site for more poultry enrichment products today.