A revolution in pullet rearing: 85% less energy to grow better birds
“Rearing our own chicks means we have better control over and are able to influence the development of our free range hens from day one.”
Improving the quality of free range egg production begins with chick and pullet rearing. Performance Pullets, a sister company to The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, has developed a ground breaking new pullet rearing facility in the Lake District.
“We aim to produce more active pullets that are less likely to feather peck, are better feathered, with improved bone strength and more mobility, results so far are impressive.”
Research from Bristol has shown major benefits in feathering and chick growth from dark brooding. Performance Pullets scaled up the process to create commercially viable dark brooding that mirrors the natural development of the chick brooding under the hen.
Sitting on a 15 acre site alongside three existing pullet rearing units, the new 69m x 20m rearing unit has a 20,000 chick capacity. It features a biomass heating system that feeds underfloor heating, large scale brooders running the length of the building, energy efficiencies, natural light and bespoke monitoring equipment that enables refined measurement of data – including temperature, ammonia and CO2 levels.
- Continuous and consistent weighing of birds – with ‘hop up’ plates weighing around 1000 birds each day. This provides constant daily data from which performance can be analyzed.
- Natural daylight is supplied from windows which open when the chicks are 5 weeks old – mimicking their future housing as soon as possible
- The unit uses 85% less energy than standard units.
The birds are feathering 2 – 3 weeks ahead of traditionally reared sheds, travelling off farm 100g heavier having utilized ½ kg/bird less feed than standard units.
The facilities are located within a short but safe distance from the free-range producers they supply, keeping travel stress levels to a minimum.