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Deep litter or cage system? Which gives the most profit on investment?

Deep litter or cage system? Which gives the most profit on investment?

As we all know that chicken production, especially at commercial level, mostly depends on

intensive systems, mainly battery cage and deep litter systems.


Previously, chicken farmers are mainly choosing deep litter system, due to available resources

across the country. While recent years, battery cage has been gaining popularity, making farmers

choose between the two based on purpose and preference.


Generally, battery cage system is a bird-rearing compartment units, and its floors are of welded 

strong galvanised wire that slope from back to the front. Battery cage allows eggs laid to roll out

of the cage to a receiving egg tray, but food supply remain outside the cage and water supplied

with pipes bearing drinking nipples.

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Briefly, Deep litter is a system where chickens are reared on floors made of concrete but covered 

with litters like saw dust, coffee husks, or wood shavings to make chicken feel comfortable.Feeding 

and drinking troughs are then placed in convenient places inside the coop.


Also Read: Why can we reduce farming cost with chicken cage?


Capital Invest

Construction of poultry houses are required for both feeding systems.

Wherever you are, Land or free space is becoming very valuable source now, and people is expecting 

more profit with limited land source, therefore, going intensive proves to be the only way in minimum 


Deep litter requires drinkers, feeders, plastic floors which cost a lot, especially if one chooses automatic 

drinkers and feeders.

Battery cage is the most intensive system as greater number of birds are reared per unit area, but it 

demands for more initial capital considering the cost of cages.


Also Read: The Critical things you have to consider if you want to go into Poultry Farm!

Management and laying performance

Feeding management in cages has to be carefully considered since many farmers mostly have a general

 idea for production.

Compared to deep litter, some farmers learn that built-up litter also supplies some food requirements for 

the birds as they obtain ‘animal or insect protein’ from the trash.but there is more wastage of feeds and 

water by birds under deep litter system.

Battery cage system enjoys remarkable results, arguing that birds spend minimal energy and lessen the 

load of excess body heat. This energy is instead directed towards egg production.


In battery cage system, it is also easy to know how many birds are laying in the cell. Cage system makes

 it easy to monitor laying percentage in your flock.


Under deep litter, it is very hard to monitor the birds since they move freely, thus could become costly 

especially for telephone farmers in Africa.


The process of identifying unproductive birds is also difficult under deep litter. Collection of eggs with dirty 

shells is eliminated in battery cage although tiny shelled eggs can easily broken.


Therefore, battery cage system provides the best opportunity for close supervision of individual birds so

 that capabilities and productiveness are monitored.


Also Read: Africa: You Can Do So Much With Chicken Manure

Disease Control

Good health is a first priority for a birds’ welfare. Under battery cage system, birds do not contact with 

their droppings hence there is less chance of parasitic diseases such as worms and coccidiosis hence 

lower mortality.

If in anyway there is disease outbreak, it spreads faster in deep litter system.

While in cages birds are not exposed to wetting floors or litters, a well-managed deep litter in dry 

condition with no wet spots around watering points has sterilising action.


It is therefore a requirement that litter is changed periodically as occasions demand to prevent infectious 

diseases building up including parasite infestations.

These are more controlled in battery cage system. It is easier to pick a hen from a cage for different 

purposes compared to catching birds under deep litter system.


Also Read: Ventilation System in chicken coop

Chicken welfare

Under battery system, hens are confined to a cage just large enough to permit very limited movement and

allow them stand or sit comfortably. In fact, some countries term raising birds under battery cage ‘imprisoning

the birds’.


Further, battery cage is associated with higher incidences of leg problem occasionally, cage fatigue, fatty liver

syndrome which is increased deposition of fat in the body.

Under deep litter, birds run and mingle freely thereby creating free social welfare.


Labour requirement

Chicken manure is a valuable economic factor with deep litter system.

According to researches, a flock of 35 laying birds can produce about a tonne of deep litter manure in a year.

It is easier to evacuate waste in the battery cage system unlike the deep litter.


For labour, cleaning out laying boxes, feeders and waterers regularly means quite a lot of work since they get

‘soiled’ by birds.

This extra labour is not as much compared to battery cage system, which goes a long way to save labour.

With these insights, you can easily compare the two systems and choose wisely.