In modern industrially scaled animal breeding the housing is very important. Since the product price is mainly determined by the costs of feed and energy, much research has been devoted to reducing these costs. One result was raising birds in a high-density population.
The MELLER research program has produced overwhelming evidence in favour of the use of cages. These striking results are best illustrated by comparing a group raised in cages with another raised conventionally. The two groups were composed of the same farm with the same management, fed the same food and under the same weather conditions.
Clearly, greater financial benefits can be reaped when the underlying factors are taken into account:
- No more litter and all its related problems. Litter is not always available, is expensive and has to be removed 5 to 6 times a year, which is not an easy job.
- The elimination of litter reduces the risk of diseases (parasites) to almost zero, as there is no longer contact with the manure.
- Lower mortality rate
- Manure can be recycled or used in greenhouses, etc.
- Same or better chicken quality than with conventional systems
- Shorter rearing periods for the same weight (approx. 2 days) or increased weight after the standard period
- More broiler cycles per year due to both the shorter rearing period and the reduced interim periods
- Reaching the same level of automation , e.g. for feeding, drinking cups, manure removal, lighting, heating and ventilation, as with laying cages