Suggestions to Derive Maximum Stocking Densities for Layer Pullets
Stocking densities for domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) are regulated by the Council Directives of the European Union for both laying hens and broiler chickens. For layer pullets no regulation of stocking density has been established yet. Based on the existing Council Directives for laying hens (1999/74/EC), broiler chickens (2007/43/EC) and calculations of the floor space that is required for the respective chicken's body, we exemplarily calculated maximum stocking densities for layer pullets. Based on the calculations we obtained absolute additional spaces for birds of different live body mass classes, i.e., useable floor space that the birds have additionally available to the space covered by their body. This allowed us to calculate the relative additional space per individual. We suggest the relative additional space to be a key parameter to derive requirements for a maximum stocking density in layer pullets. We analysed several scenarios for pullets under consideration of the Council Directives for laying hens and for broiler chickens, coming to the conclusion that layer pullets at the end of their rearing period should be provided ideally with a relative additional space of about 40-60%.