Published on Dec. 12, 2019

Warren and Bovans selected for “First of a Kind” Rearing System

Knowledge, experience and the right breed

Vencomatic recently opened the doors of its ‘first-of-a-kind’ Bolegg Starter Rearing System at well-attended open day, at Yorkshire Farmhouse Eggs in North Yorkshire. Over 100 guests were given guided tours of the unit by the Vencomatic team, who were keen to highlight the welfare benefits of the system.

Determined to get it right first time

Determined to get it right first time, Yorkshire Farmhouse Eggs chose the proven Warren and Bovans Brown breeds. Having had success with the robust and reliable Warren in the past, and hearing the Bovans reputation for liveability, persistency and its potential to lay larger eggs, they decided to rear 32,000 of each breed.

Replicating the natural habitat

“The Bolegg Starter offers chicks the opportunity to move vertically around the system from day one” explained Mr Alexander of Vencomatic. “Chickens climb trees in their natural habitat, and we want to replicate that environment in rear, both to ensure the chicks’ wellbeing, but also to develop the three-dimensional spatial awareness that is essential for a smooth transfer into lay. The key feature of the Bolegg Starter is that the platforms and drinker lines are winchable, allowing the operator to increase the height differences across the system. This encourages the birds to climb and allows the system to grow with the pullets.”

Ease of movement…

“Once the chicks are 15 days old (for Freedom Foods standards), the compartment doors are opened and the chicks can access the floor area” explains Alexander. “This is quite a jump for them at this age and awkward landings can damage their still-developing keel bones so to allow them to move comfortably and safely between the floor and system we add welfare ramps, and we see the birds using them confidently from the start. The ramps we use in rear differ from those in laying houses - the bottom couple of inches is open, to allow the chicks to move underneath, preventing them becoming trapped or hiding behind the base of the ramp.”

…but not too much freedom

“One of the really clever innovations on the Bolegg Starter system are what we call the ‘anti-surf grills. They’re a protective grill that prevent the chicks from being transported along the feed track. This alleviates the problem that occurs when the chicks enter the feed track - they are moved along and effectively bypass the compartment walls. This can lead to overcrowding in the end compartments and can increase competition for food, water and space which places unnecessary stress on the bird.”

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