“There were a number of reasons why we chose to go with this system. One of them was animal welfare.”
Rory Young and his partner Ealing Gibson have been producing free range eggs in the Scottish council area Dumfries and Galloway since 2009. Recently, the two egg producers added a new layer facility to the family-owned farm: 64,000 layers now produce free range eggs in a total of four units. All equipment, including the NATURA Nova Triple Top aviary, comes from the German poultry equipment supplier Big Dutchman. As Rory explains in detail in the video linked below, “there were a number of reasons why we chose to go with this system. One of them was animal welfare.”
RSPCA/Freedom Food compliance
A special welfare design feature of the aviary is how the perches are arranged: they are mounted clearly above the usable area. This allows the birds to roost quietly during the night and to retreat from other hens during the day, if necessary. Active birds will therefore not disturb resting hens, and vice versa. Since the aviary is open at the top, the birds can find an elevated perching location on every level. This is compliant with the requirements of RSPCA/Freedom Food and their recommendations for best practice.
More Big Dutchman welfare products:
The pendulum makes use of the hens’ natural behaviour of searching for feed and thus occupies them because it remains permanently interesting. Using it permanently smooths the layers’ beaks and promotes their natural scratching behaviour.
The PickPuck pendulum for barn and free range egg production is a favourite with the hens
Welfare station |
The welfare station is a multi-functional innovation. It provides more options for distraction in the barn, contributes to good health and promotes natural beak smoothing. The way it operates is simple: hens can pull loose hay (preferably alfalfa, which contains protein and is therefore a welcome nutrient supplier) from the belly of a compact system that is similar to a hay rack. On one side, either limestone or bezoars are dispensed; on the other side, the birds pick at pressed alfalfa pellets, whose particles drop onto a plate that helps smooth the beak naturally. Proven alternatives include carrots, root vegetables and cabbage. Limestone acts as a calcium source for the bones. Since the bones provide calcium for egg shell formation, adding ground limestone has a positive effect on egg quality. Bezoars, on the other hand, are good for the hens’ digestive system and thus improve nutrient intake.
Run for the welfare station
Active environmental protection also played an important role during project planning and realisation. “We put a lot of efforts into being as environment-friendly as we can,” reviews Rory. One approach was to keep ammonia emissions as low as possible with manure drying and the heating system, in combination with equal pressure ventilation – which also impacts positively on animal welfare. The poultry keepers reduce dust emissions with the StuffNix dust filter and have additionally planted trees around the building.
The StuffNix dust filter separates 50 to 70 % of dust
The first NATURA aviary was launched in 1986. Big Dutchman has increased its aviary product range continuously since then. Today, the German poultry equipment supplier from Vechta can offer more than 20 aviary system types: an entire product family with various branches that combines animal welfare with profitability. The human is, of course, also an important factor. NATURA aviaries are always designed with a focus on the barn as a place of work. Systems that are easy to overview and to access help farmers and their staff with the day-to-day work.
The youngest family member in Dumfries and Galloway: NATURA Nova Triple Top is one of the many developments of the Big Dutchman classic aviary system NATURA Nova. It consists of three very similar levels, all of which provide feed, water and a nest for the birds.
Video: Egg producer Rory Young explains why he decided on the NATURA Nova Triple Top!