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Perches

Perches provide a significant improvement to the growing and laying house environment. In grow, they allow birds to fully develop their leg and flight muscles and will habituate jumping behavior, which will be important in good nesting behavior if the laying hens are later housed in aviaries. In addition, perches reduce the social stress by providing safe resting sites. In part because of the improvement in social pressure, perches can improve feed and water consumption, with resulting effects on body weight gain, body weight uniformity, and egg production. Perches also increase the effective space in the house, and piling is a common problem in flocks without access to perches.

When pullets and laying hens are housed under cage-free conditions, it is important that they have access to perches and that there is sufficient perch space. Perches help improve the social environment as mentioned above and significantly reduce occurences of eggs laid outside the nests (i.e., "floor eggs").

The dimensions for A-frame perches are shown in the drawing below. If individual perches are placed too close to the floor, birds cannot escape from social-stress situations. Perches above the feed or water lines, perches extending from the wall (i.e., half an A-frame), or other perch designs can also be used. The perch length depends on bird density (see table). If space allows, place perches on slats to maintain good litter conditions.


The recommended perch length depends on bird density and laying-hen variety


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