Welfare & Management

The art of keeping layers in top condition

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The art of keeping layers in top condition

Modern laying hens deliver top performance. That demands proper skills and adequate management. Layer farmer Peter Janssen from The Netherlands knows exactly what to do to keep his flocks in top condition till the end of their productive life.

Over the past decades, professional layer breeding took egg production around the globe to an unprecedented level. Today’s modern hybrid birds are incomparable with the backyard bird of the past. These lay an egg by now and then, depending on their age and condition. That’s about it.

Modern layers, however, nowadays are able to produce even up to 500 eggs in their life span of about one hundred weeks. Clearly these birds are “top athletes.”

Raising and keeping such layers is not just a matter of putting them in a house, provide feed and water and collect eggs. On the contrary! These birds have been bred to be kept in large flocks for commercial purposes.

Photo 1. Peter Janssen is keeping 285,000 Dekalb White and Lohmann White layers in 4 different ages and in 4 houses

Peter Janssen, general manager of the family owned Janssen egg farm, very well understands how to manage such flocks.

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START FROM REARING

“Successful production starts at the very beginning”, says Peter. “In other words, from the moment of rearing of the day-old chick up to an 18 week old pullet.”

In the structure of many family owned farms in The Netherlands, rearing usually takes place on specialized farms, which are under contract with the layer hatchery. At an age of about 17-18 weeks these young pullets move to the specialized farm, where at an age of



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