22 May 1998

Shorter lairage

LAIRAGE time for broilers should be as short as possible to minimise heat stress in crates, which can be up to 15C (59F) warmer than ambient temperatures.

So warned Richard Hunter, research assistant at Edinburghs Roslin Institute. The lairage project, run in conjunction with Silsoe Research Institute and Bristol Vet School, found that where broilers were kept in lairage for a long time, temperatures increased by as much as 15C within crates. "This meant bird body temperature increased, and this, coupled with often humid conditions in lairages, means that broilers will lose bodyweight."

Besides reducing productivity, welfare is also adversely affected.

and further work is being done to study the effect of prolonged lairage times on meat quality.

"The outcome of the study is that lairages should be ventilated, and hens should spend as little time in lairage as possible. Better monitoring within the lairage and crates is also advised; often there will be only a single thermometer, which wont reflect the difference between crate and ambient temperatures."