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Welcome to our coop! Housing upgrade at Atlantic Poultry Research Centre

Posted by Stephanie Rogers on January 30, 2024 in News, Research

The Atlantic Poultry Research Centre, established 17 years ago on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, supports broiler, turkey and egg production, teaching, and research. The facility has three full production wings facilitating egg, broiler, and turkey research. Several controlled environment rooms help to facilitate environmental style research manipulating temperature, humidity, and lighting levels.

Recently the egg industry began the transition to alternative housing systems.  After consultation, the APRC determined an enriched colony system was best to meet the needs of researchers while allowing students to learn in a representative commercial setting.

“Renewal of layer housing in the Atlantic Poultry Research Centre clearly demonstrates the Faculty of Agriculture’s commitment to animal welfare,” said Michael McConkey, Programs and Finance Manager-Farm.  “The impact of this project will be keenly felt in teaching and research programs.”

Existing conventional cages were removed in May 2023 and renovation of the space began, which included painting and covering the ceiling with a durable and washable sheathing.

The Hellmann NF20 fully enriched housing system can house 20 hens per compartment. This smaller size allows for replication of treatments which is essential for research.

Enriched colony housing also provides hens with more space and the resources to engage in a wider range of natural behaviors while housing larger groups of hens per cage. Enrichments or furnishings provides opportunities for hens to perch, nest, forage, and dust bath.

Four rows of three tier high housing were installed with LED in-cage lights which provide dusk and dawn lighting, travelling feed hoppers, manual egg gathering tables, front nest location and auger for automatic filling of scratch mats.

The project culminated with the placement of pullets in October. The new cages hold 2184 hens.

“This project has allowed the APRC to remain a centre of excellence in egg research for years to come and to continue the training of highly qualified individuals entering the poultry industry,” said Dr. Bruce Rathgeber, chair Animal Science and Aquaculture.

To learn more about the poulty industry attend the Perfect Poultry Community Dinner