Booklet No. 234
Animal Husbandry-Poultry: PLS - 3
II. Principles of Housing
III. Styles of Poultry Houses
IV. House Construction
V. Systems of Poultry Housing
VI. Poultry House Equipments
Provision of proper housing is essential for getting maximum benefits from poultry
keeping. It is not necessary that housing for poultry birds should be expensive. What is more
important is that there should be proper protection of birds from different harmful agencies. It
should also have proper arrangements for necessary equipments and operations. Also, housing
should be such each bird should feel comfortable and gives maximum production. This booklet
discusses all the aspects of poultry housing.
Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & environmental Education
It is a well-known fact that the ancestors of the present day domestic fowls slept mostly
on trees. They were of course exposed to adverse conditions from the very start of their lives
but they enjoyed freedom from confinement, got plenty of open air and were hardy. They
consequently built up resistance in their system and suffered less from the various diseases
After domestication, they have been housed in variety of ways and confined to small
houses or huts with restricted freedom. Very often, they were housed along With human beings
in their own huts or houses, cattle yards, out houses and in fact, in any space available at the
disposal of the owner.
Today, we find that in certain places close to big towns and cities, they are housed in
individual poultry houses of all shapes and sizes, sometimes in colony houses, cages in tiers or
batteries, casting several thousands of rupees. On account of the intensive and artificial method
adopted in rearing poultry, some of the best breeds have become so much domesticated that
they entirely depend upon man for all their requirements. Under modem conditions, the hen is
required to lay many eggs throughout the years, and this object can be achieved if they are
housed properly. Thus, housing of poultry has become necessary in order to:
I. protect them from adverse weather conditions and enemies (predators);
2. have better control and supervision;
3. keep the breed pure by scientific breeding;
4. feed them regularly as per schedule;
5. collect all the laid eggs every day;
6. prevent pilferage of eggs and birds; and
7. have control over diseases and exercise preventive vaccination.
II. Principles of Housing
An ideal or well constructed poultry house is one which helps to conserve the birds
energy, made for economy in feed, increase egg production, improve fertility, promote health
and growth, and keep mortality low. It is difficult to think of any single house type that would suit
all conditions. Housing pattern would vary according to differences of climate and systems of
poultry keeping. However, there are certain general principles which should be observed while
planning housing for poultry birds. The important principles are discussed below.
1. Selection of site
While selecting site for a poultry house the following points should be considered.
1. The site should have natural facilities for the ventilation of the house, but should be free from
drafts. The house should be so located that its rear faces the direction from which the gales
usually come. Normally, exposure to western and north western winds is to be avoided.
2. It should not be in low depressions as cold and dump air usually tends to settle in such
3. For safety from fire, it should be located at some distance from dwelling, or other farm
buildings. However, it should not be so far away as to render proper supervision and care of the
4. Plenty of sunshine should be available at the site, but since the birds would need protection
against the heat of the day, especially in the northern India, provision should be made for
sufficient natural shade.
5. The soil in the vicinity should preferably be the sandy loam as it provides good drainage and
is also suitable for growing grasses and other green crops.
2. Housing hygiene
The house should remain absolutely dry. Dampness causes discomfort to the birds and
also gives rise to diseases like colds and pneumonia. Moreover, mash and other feeds become
sour and mouldy in damp air. Dampness in the poultry house may be caused by : (i) moisture
rising through the floor, (ii) leaky roots or walls, (iii) rain or snow entering through the windows,
(iv) leaky water containers, and (v) exhalation of the birds. The floor should be paved with
impervious material, and should be 1/2 to 1.0 ft above the level of the surrounding ground. The
roof must be water-proof and should overlap the house by at least a foot on all sides. In heavy
rainfall areas it should be kept very low. It is also advisable to fix up curtains of gunny cloth of
bamboo mats on the sides to prevent rains from getting into the house. Dampness on account
of exhalations of the birds may be avoided by providing proper ventilation and sufficient air
space in the house.
Compared to other livestock, the fowl has a higher body temperature and breathes much
faster. Its requirement of oxygen is, therefore, comparatively large. The need for good
ventilation in poultry houses is, therefore, obvious. This can be ensured by providing houses
open all sides, excepting the lower one-third portion of the rear and the sides which may be
covered by a wall or asbestos sheets to keep away drafts. The open space is covered by a one
inch wire mesh. In cold and rainy seasons, the house is covered on all sides, except the front,
by canvas, old gunny cloth or mats made from locally available material such as bamboo, khus,
etc. Additional shade is necessary during the summer, and is provided by thatching the roof.
Sunlight in the poultry house is desirable not only because it brightens the house and
makes the birds happy, but also because it keeps the house dry and destroys the germs.
Moreover, sunlight is also a source of vitamin D which is needed for building up the skeletons
Poultry houses generally abound in lice, ticks, flies and mites, which are among the
worst enemies of the birds. They not only retard growth and laying, but also transmit diseases.
The house should, therefore, be so designed as to facilitate different operations such as
cleaning and spraying. Cracks or crevices should be reduced to the minimum. Angle irons for
the frame and cement, asbestos or metal sheets for the roofs and walls are ideal construction
materials, as they permit effective disinfection of the house to be carried out with a direct flame,
When wood is to be used in the construction of poultry houses, there should be
minimum joints and cracks. In the case of small units, the legs of the framework on which the
house is constructed should rest in a small tin or earthen cup containing kerosene oil. Every
piece of wood used as building material should be treated with coal tar, creosote, or similar
strong insecticides before being fitted.
6. Adequate room
Putting too many birds in a house is a false economy in as much as overcrowding gives
rise to one or more of the following conditions.
1. Heavy mortality as a result: of the easy spread of the diseases.
2. Excessive dampness.
3. Feather picking and cannibalism
4. Malnutrition as a result of difficulty of access to the feed.
The size of the house would depend on the size of the flock, nature of the breed, an d on
whether the birds are confined to the house or allowed free range. The smaller the flock, the
larger the floor area required per bird. Thus, if only a few Leghorns are kept they would each
require 6 to 8 sq. ft. of floor area, while if a flock of 150 fowls is to be maintained, an allowance
of 3.25 sq. ft.. per bird would be sufficient. Barred Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Islands would
require 4 sq. ft. each in a flock of 150 birds.
The table 1 gives the space requirement for different sizes of flocks when they are
confined to the house. If the birds have access to a range or a run attached to the house, this
accommodation would be enough for double the number.
Table-1 Space requirement for poultry flocks
Sl.No Floor area (sq Accommodation enough for
Leghorns Heavy breeds
1 24 6 5
2 48 12 10
3 64 15 12
4 100 25 20
5 224 60 50
6 400 125 100
7 576 180 144
8 600 190 150
9 900 280 225
10 1600 500 400
11 3200 1000 800
III. Styles of Poultry Houses
The style of the poultry house makes little difference as long as the birds are well
protected there. There are several styles of poultry houses with reference to type of roofs. The
important ones are de- scribed here.
1. Shed type
These are the simplest poultry houses and by far the most useful and practical type of
houses that can be used under different climatic conditions and for different systems of poultry
keeping. The slope of the roof needs only to be slight in the plains, while in the hills where
snowfall is heavy or in heavy rainfall areas, it ought to be sufficiently steep. The shed-roof types
of houses may be either portable or stationary. The portable house is generally a small one, not
exceeding 8'x 6' while the stationary type can be made of any dimensions.
2. Gable type
This type requires more material and labour for construction. Some poultry farmer put a
ceiling floor in gable roof houses and use the space in gable for; storage. This type is more
suitable for rainfall areas. Here, again gable type may be portable or stationary.
3. Combination type
Such houses have double pitch roofs in which the ridge between the two slopes is not
midway from front to back. Most of the houses have the long slope to the rear. Like the gable
type, the combination roof requires more material and labour than the shed roof.
IV. House Construction
The type of construction work for different parts of poultry house is given here.
In India the cement asbestos sheeting, corrugated iron and zinc sheets are commonly
used as roofing material. Cement asbestos, although very satisfactory and durable, is
expensive. Corrugated iron and zinc sheets are equally satisfactory and the cost is lower than
The floor of a laying house should be free from dampness, with a smooth surface
without cracks, easy to clean and disinfect, rot proof and durable.
3. Concrete floor
A well laid concrete floor is the safest way to meet these requirements and is
recommended in preference to any other kind of floor. Concrete floors laid on the ground
conserve warmth from the earth in winter.
4. Wire mesh floor
Wire mesh floor or preferably mesh of expanded metal is the best for portable houses.
The expanded metal although more expensive, it is stronger, more durable and does not sag
like the wire mesh. The expanded metal having ½” x 1.5" mesh, nailed to the bottom of the
house, makes excellent flooring through which all the excreta drops out ensuring best sanitary
5. Katcha floor
The poor village farmer sometimes prefers this sort of floor due to low cost, but it is
difficult to keep clean. The floor usually becomes foul smelling, harbours disease germs and
vermin, and provides favourable conditions for the onset and spread of the diseases. Whatever
be the kind of flooring it is necessary to provide dry clean litter as bedding.
The walls should be water-proof, wind-proof, and finished with interior surfaces' that are
easy to clean and disinfect. Except for the hills where summer is cool and winter is very cold,
open type houses with necessary adaptations prove quite suitable.
In plains where safeguarding is assured from enemies, the walls may be of expanded
metal wire mesh on all the sides and the roof will be on some special iron frame. In winter, it will
be necessary to cover those mesh with gunny bags, etc.
If built of bricks, the south side of the house should be enclosed with 1/2" mesh wire
netting. On the north, east and west sides, high up near roof, there should be some opening,
12" x 6" covered with the same kind of wire netting. This will afford perfect ventilation at all
seasons, and the house will not be too warm in the summer or too cold in the winter.
The door of the house must be on the south, and made of an angle iron frame covered
with 1/2" mesh wire netting. The size of the room should always be large enough to allow a man
to conveniently get through.
At least 1.5 square feet opening for each 10 square feet of floor space is recommended
for plain areas of India. In the hill regions where it becomes cold in winter and not too warm in
summer, this size may be reduced to half. All opening should be covered with I" wire netting.
Equal opening on opposite sides of the house or even on all four walls are desirable. Be sure to
make the roof overhang at least 18", preferably 36" out from the wall to cut down radiation
through the window opening.
V. Systems of Poultry Housing
There are four systems of housing generally found to be followed among poultry
keepers. The type of housing depends to a large extent on the amount of ground and the capital
available. Those systems are free range or extensive system, semi-intensive system, folding
unit system, and intensive system. Intensive system is again of two types viz. battery system
and deep litter system.
A. Free range system
Free range system of poultry housing is very old and has been used for centuries by
general farmers, where there is no shortage of land. This system allows great, but not unlimited,
space to the birds on land where they can find an appreciable amount of food in the form of
herbaceous seeds and insects, provided they are protected from predatory animals and
infectious diseases including parasitic infestation. At present, due to advantages of intensive
methods, this system is almost outdated.
B. Semi-intensive system
This system is adopted where the amount of free space available is limited, but it is
necessary to allow the birds 20 to 30 square yards per bird of outside run. Wherever possible
this space should be divided giving a run on either side of the house of 10 to 15 square yards
per bird, thus enabling the birds to reach fresh grounds.
C. Folding unit system
This system of housing is a recent innovation. In portable folding units birds being
confined to one small run, the position is changed each day. This gives them fresh grounds and
the birds find a considerable proportion of food from the herbage and are healthier and hardier.
The disadvantages of this system are that food and water must be carried out to the
birds and eggs brought back and there is some extra labour involved in the regular moving of
the fold units.
The most convenient folding unit to handle is one which is made for 25 hens. A floor
space of 1 sq. ft. should be allowed for each bird in the house, and 3 sq. ft. in the run, so that a
total floor space to the whole unit is 4 square feet per bird, as with the intensive system.
D. Intensive system
In this system the birds are confined to the house entirely, with no access to the land
outside. It is usually adopted where land is limited and expensive. Among different types of
intensive systems, cage system and deep litter system are the most common.
1. Battery or cage system
This is the most intensive type of poultry production and is useful to those with only a
small quantity of floor space at their disposal. Now-a-days in large cities hardly a poultry keeper
can spare open lands to rearing birds. For all such people this system is very useful for keeping
birds with minimum space.
In the battery system each hen is confined to a cage just large enough to permit very
limited movement and allow her to stand and sit comfortably. The usual floor space is 14 x 16
inches and the height, 17 inches. The floor is of standard strong galvanized wire set at a slope
from back to the front, so that the eggs as they are laid, rollout of the cage to a receiving gutter.
Underneath is a tray for droppings. Both food and water receptacles are outside the cage. Many
small cages can be assembled together, if necessary it may be multi-storied. The whole
structure should be of metal so that no parasites will be harboured and thorough disinfection
can be carried out as often as required. Provided the batteries of cages are set up at a place
which is well ventilated, and lighted, is not too hot and is vermin proof and that the food meets
all nutritional needs. This system has proved to be remarkably successful in the tropical
countries. It may be that as it requires a minimum expenditure of energy from the bird, which
spend all their time in the shades it lessens the load of excess body heat. The performance of
each bird in the cage has to De carefully observed, as the birds are entirely dependent on the
mash for maintenance and production. To supply vitamin A and D, cod liver oil, yeast and dried
milk powder are useful, and fish-meal or other animal protein, balanced minerals and some form
of grits must be made available.
As in each cage, there will be only pullets so one can never expect fertilized eggs.
Hence the vegetative eggs will be there, which can be preserved for a longer time than fertilized
eggs at ordinary room temperature but can never be used for hatching purposes.
2. Deep litter system
In this system, the poultry birds are kept in large pens up to 250 birds each on floor
covered with litters , such as straw, saw dust or leaves up to depth of 8 –12 inches. Deep litter
resembles dry compost. In other words we can define deep littre with poultry manure until it
reaches a depth of 8 to 12 inches. The build up has to be carried out correctly to give desired
results which takes very little attention.
Following basic rules should be kept in mind while adopting this system.
1. Do not have too many birds in the pen-one bird for every 3.5 to 4 and preferably five square
feet of floor space.
2. Provide efficient ventilation to enable the litter to keep in correct condition.
3. Keep the litter dry. This is probably the master work in a deep litter system. If the litter gets
soaked by leaking from the roofs or from water vessels, it upsets the whole process and would
have to start over again. All probable precautions should be taken to maintain the litters
4. Stir the litter regularly. Turning the litter (just like digging in a garden) at least once a weak is
very important in maintaining a correct build- up of deep litter.
a. Starting deep litter system
For deep litter we can use many materials as a medium for starting the build up in a pen.
It can work quite well with a wide range of organic materials. The cost and ease of obtaining the
material will be main guide. Suitable dry organic materials like straw (needs to be cut into 2 -3
inch length), saw dust, leaves, dry grasses, groundnut shells, broken maize stalks and cobs,
bark of trees in sufficient quantities to give a depth of about 6 inches in the pen should be used.
When the litter has built up, it would be very difficult for anyone to say what material was initially
used. Nothing else has to be added. The droppings of the birds gradually combine with the
materials used to build up the litter. When a pen is not overcrowded, these can be regularly
absorbed and correct condition maintained, if stirring and even distribution is kept up. In about
two months, it has usually become deep litter, and by 6 months, it has become built up deep
litter. At about 12 months of old stage, it is fully built up. Extra litter material can be added to
maintain sufficient depth.
The litter pen should be started when the weather is dry, and is likely to remain so for
about two months for the operation of bacterial action. Start new litter with each years pullets
and continue with it for their laying period.
Laying birds can be kept quite successfully in a shed built off the ground. In fact birds
can be kept in houses with 2 or 3 floors one above the other. Sometimes the litters may get
damp in spite of all precautions, at that time about 0.5 kg of super-phosphate may be thoroughly
mixed up with litters spreading the 15 square feet of floor space. When this is not available
hydrated lime (but never quick lime) can be used at the same level.
b. Advantages of deep litter system:
The deep litter system has the following advantages.
(i) Safety of birds Birds on a range or even in a netted yard can be taken by wild animals, flying
birds, etc. When enclosed in deep litter intensive pens which has strong wire netting or
expanded metal, the birds and eggs are safe.
(ii) Litter as a source of food supply
It may be surprising to know that built up deep litter also supplies some of the food requirements
of the birds. They obtain "animal protein factor" (APF) from deep litter and some work indicates
that it could mean that birds obtain sufficient of this to enable a suitable feed ration to be
prepared only with a vegetable protein such as groundnut meal included in the feed. The levels
of vitamins such as riboflavin increases up to nearly three-fold, according to experiments con-
ducted. The combination of this and the animal protein is necessary to get good hatchability of
eggs and early growth in chickens.
(Ill) Disease control
Well managed deep litter kept in dry condition with no wet spots around water has a
sterilizing action. The level of coccidiosis and worm infestation is much lower with poultry kept
on good deep litter than with birds or chickens in bare yards and bare floor sheds particularly
where water spillage is allowed.
(iv) Labour saving
This is one of the really big features of deep litter usage. Cleaning out poultry pens daily
or weekly means quite a lot of work. When correct conditions observed with well managed litter,
there is no need to clean a pen out for whole year. The only attention is the regular stirring and
adding of some material as needed.
(v) Valuable fertilizer
This is a valuable economic factor with deep litter. According to one estimation 35 birds
can produce in one year about one tonne of deep Jitter fertilizer. The level of nitrogen in fresh
manure is about 1%, but on well built deep litter it may be around 3% nitrogen. It also contains
about 2% phosphorus and 2% potash. Its value is about three times that of cattle.
(vi) Hot weather safeguard
This is an important feature in hot climate. The litter maintains its own constant
temperature, so birds burrow into it when the air temperature is high and thereby cool
themselves. Conversely, they can warm themselves in the same way when the weather is very
cool. Accordingly it is valuable insulating agent.
VI. Poultry House Equipments
Fixtures which are necessary for the comfort of the birds and convenience of the poultry
man constitute the poultry house equipments. The equipment has the wide variety of designs,
but it should embody certain essential features, such as, convenience, portability, economy,
comfort of birds, and durability.
Convenience relates mainly to the minimizing of labour required in taking care of the
birds, mostly in connection with feeding, sanitation and collection of eggs.
Portability is closely related to convenience and implies that all equipments are so
installed as to facilitate easy removal of any component for cleaning and spraying the house.
The equipment should not be expensive and cumbersome. Consistent with efficiency, as
little money as possible should be invested on the equipment. It is well to remember that
ordinarily simple construction is economical.
Comfort of the birds is the prime factor in recurring satisfactory egg production and
should not, therefore, be neglected. Adequate perch and nest space, cleanliness of feed and
water, care of reaching the roosts and feed containers, all contribute to the comfort of the birds.
Durability or permanence of poultry fixtures and appliances should not be Ignored while
equipping poultry houses. Frequent cleaning which is essential requires a highly durable
1. Perches or roosts
Perches or roosts are necessary in the poultry houses. Apart from catering to natural
instinct or disease of the chickens to get above the ground at night, perches help materially to
keep the birds feet and plumage clean. It is advisable to encourage birds to roost on perches
from early age of 6-8 weeks while they are still in their cold brooding stage. This can be done by
providing suitable perches at one end of the brooder room. The perch space varies with the size
of the breed, 7-9 inches of it for the general purpose breeds are essential. A large number of
birds can be accommodated on a perch if they are young, because of their smaller size, than
the mature birds. More perch space is advisable in the hot season.
The perches should be enough for the birds to rest comfortably. Wooden perches, two
inches square, round at the top and flat at the bottom can be used. These make roosting more
comfortable and prevent sore feet. Wooden perches are mostly used but can be replaced by
two inches thick split bamboos or other poles wherever available. As far as possible no nails
should be used for fixing the perches, so that they can be easily removed for cleaning.
All perches should be of equal level and placed at a distance of at least one foot from
each other. The most convenient height at which the roosts should be fixed is 18 inches. Chick
roosts generally encourage early roosting. Wire netting prevents the chicks from crowding
underneath the roosts and keeps them away from the droppings.
2. Nest boxes
Each pen of laying birds should be provided with nest boxes for laying eggs. Hens seem
to prefer nests that are not brightly lighted. Nests units of 4,5 or 6 are placed under the poultry
house or the scratch-shed in a cool, dark corner of the enclosure. In a colony house a series of
such trap nests is most advantageously kept along the wall preferably on a raised platform.
3. Feed hoppers
Troughs, pots, and pans used for feeding should be of suitable size depending on the
age and size of the birds. Vessels used for feeding should be so protected (by running wires
cross ways) as to prevent the birds from scratching out the feed.
The feeding of dry mash to chickens is now recognised as a desirable practice. The
laying hens at least should have ready access to mash. There should be arrangement for
keeping adequate supply of mash in such a way that it remains clean and is accessible to birds
at all times with the minimum waste.
A self-feeder is one in which fresh supply of grains or other dry-food automatically falls
from a hopper into the trough as the bird feeds. All feeders should be big enough for two or
three birds to feed easily at a time. Feeders for baby chickens can be made from a large tin can
with a lid. The can is cut along the side, a quarter of an inch from the bottom, and then half way
up the I corners. The loose piece is bent inwards.
Very cheep and useful hoops can be made by a village carpenter using thick bamboo
wherever they are available. Poultry keeping is very popular in heavy rainfall areas whhich
abound in bamboos, provision of simple feeders made by bamboo offers greater scope for
popularizing correct methods of feeding the birds. It is more economical to use hoppers both
sides of which may be used by birds in. feeding. It is safe to estimate that one leaner foot of
hopper space will be required for every six or eight birds. This would mean that a flock of 100
birds would require a total length of 8 to 10 feet of a two sided hopper.
4. Watering devices
Chickens require and consume large quantities of water, which should be made
available to them at all times. The ideal watering device is one which is large enough for a
whole day supply, keeps the water clean and cool, does not corrode on account of chemical
action, does not rust or break easily, does not topple over readily and is easy to empty, clean
and refill, does not allow the birds to get into and spoil the water and is relatively inexpensive.
A wide variety of watering utensils satisfying the above needs can be obtained. These
may be in the form of fountain or covered containers. In a fountain, the level of water in the
feeder dish is kept always at the same level. This is done by arranging for a constant supply of
fresh water to flow automatically from a container, as the level in the dish goes down. Some
water fountain types are explained here.
1. By for the simplest fountain consists of an empty cigarette tin or mud pot with a hole made in
its side, about half an inch from the top. It is filled with water, then covered with a some what
deep saucer and turned upside down. The water pours into the saucer through the hole but
cannot rise about the level of the hole and does not flow over the edge of the sauce. This is
suitable for the chicks.
2. A bottle filled with water is turned upside down over a bowl full of water. The bottle is
supported on nails against a stand, post or a tree so that the end of the neck is just below the
top of the water in the bowl. The water in the bowl is always level with the neck of the bottle.
3. A cheap and efficient water fountain suitable for adult birds in large pans can be made by
using two earthen vessels shaped like a pot and bowl (ghara and kunali) respectively. The
ghara with a hole in the neck is filled with water and then inverted in the kunali. The water
comes out of the small hole in the ghara and keeps its level without overflow- ing the sides of
the kunali. One such fountain will be enough for a pen of 10 birds for a whole day, and several
such fountains if placed in the bigger pens will save the labour of filling the vessel again and
Cheap and hygienic waterers can also be made out of earthen carriers by any village potter.
5. Grit and shell containers
Shells and grits are provided to the poultry separately as these are not included in the
feed mixtures. Ordinary wall hoppers made either of wood or metal serve the purpose.
6. Green feed racks
A green feed wall rack is desirable, as throwing such feed in the litter is insanitary. The
racks are made of slats or wiremesh and hung at some height to provide exercise to the birds
as they strive for the feed.
Confined birds need as large a run as can be afforded. If more than one breed is kept, it
will be necessary to enclose each breed within a fence in order to prevent mixing. An ideal run
can be had by putting up a wire mesh fence, 1/2" mesh being necessary for the chicks and 1.5"
to 2" mesh for the adult birds. A six-foot wide roll of wire mesh or two rolls of three feet wide
mesh joined together at the centre by a winding wire and mounted on wooden poles, makes
ideal fencing. It is advisable to fix the lower edge of the wiremesh at least 6 inches under the
surface of the ground in a trench to provide protection against predatory animals. The chicken
run should be covered by wiremesh also on the top to prevent crows, hawks, and kites from
carrying away the young chicks. In the absence of wire mesh the use of split bamboos or
sarkanda is recommended for the runs. They are not very durable but serve the purpose.
The idea of providing each pen of birds with two runs has much to recommend it. The
birds can be allowed into one of these for a few months, and then changed to the other. This
gives the runs "rest", allows the weather and the sun to clean these, and enables the grass to
8. Laying batteries
The system of using batteries for' laying hens is a comparatively recent and is one of the
developments of battery brooding. Each hen is housed in an individual all metal cage or
compartment about 12 to 16 inches wide, 18 inches long and 18 inches high. The wire floor
gently slopes forwards so that the eggs, when laid, rolls underneath the feed trough and gets
out of the reach of the hen. The cages are contiguous and may be single rows (single deck) or
built in tiers to accommodate any number of layers.
This system is almost unknown in India at present. It is, however, well adapted to
localities in or near large cities where the land in adequate extent is either unobtainable or
unsuitable for setting up the usual plant. In such locations, it is possible to make use of any
empty, building for this purpose. The system also admits of utilizing marshy or damp areas
highly unsuitable for poultry rearing by the usual methods. Cities like Bombay and Calcutta
where similar wet conditions prevail during a good part of the year can take to poultry farming
intensively by keeping the birds in battery cages.
The advantages claimed for the system of keeping poultry in laying cages are mentioned
1. Positive and prompt culling is possible.
2. Culls can be put into the market in better condition since they can be spotted before they lose
3. Somewhat higher egg production per bird since each hen has constant access to feed and
4. Feed consumption for per dozen eggs is some- what less since the hen wastes less energy in
5. Elimination of cannibalism.
6. About one-third less floor space is required for layers in batteries.
7. Both Leghorns and heavier breeds respond favourably in laying batteries.
8. Plants can be set up regardless of soil and climatic conditions.
There are also certain disadvantages with this system which are pointed below.
1. There is higher initial investment per bird on the cages, although it eliminates the necessity of
buying feeders, waterers, nests or building perches which are necessary for. the birds on the
2. Greater skill and care in feeding are required for layers in batteries although the nutrient
requirement for layers in cages are much the same as for those in floor pens, except for vitamin
D and fiber requirement, which are generally greater for layers in batteries.
3. Labour requirement for feeding and watering layers in batteries are considerably greater than
for floor pens equipped with labour saving equipments.
4. The battery operator to be successful must always be very alert as a care taker and as a
5. Economical operation of the battery necessitates starting a new brood of chicks for
replacement of pullets at least 4 to 6 times a year.