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Bovans White
Cage Production System

Achieving the full genetic potential of the Bovans White

The Story of
the Bovans White
By the 1950s traditional Dutch poultry
breeders were facing increased competition
from larger American companies. So in 1954
four family owned layer breeding farms
formed a new breeding company called
Bovans Organisatie N.V. (Bovans Poultry
Breeders). These hard working, farming
families were the Bongers, Van Duijnhoven,
Van Lankveld and Van der Linden (one Bo and
three Vans = Bovans).
The founders of Bovans were Harry van Duijnhoven
and his wife Nora. The Bovans breeding center was at
Harry van Duijnhoven’s farm at Stevensbeek and their
Bovans layers reflected the robust and hardworking
ethics of the four families.

The original Bovans logo, which is still in use,

was designed by Harry van Duijnhoven’s brother.
Bovans Poultry Breeders soon developed into a
strong and successful breeder, selling its birds in
Europe, the America’s, Africa and the Middle East.

The Bovans White is an exceptionally balanced layer,
combining high peak performance, feed efficiency and

Robust and easy to manage the Bovans White enables

egg producers to achieve their desired egg weight level,
for table eggs or processing.

A productive layer with a flat egg weight curve, a very

strong shell and excellent laying persistency, the Bovans
White is suitable for longer laying cycles, and is adaptable
to differing environments and management systems.

Flat egg weight curve

Superior egg production

Robust and easy to manage

Exceptionally balanced bird

Strong bottom line results

Product Guide bovans.com 3

Good brooding conditions are vital to
give the chicks the best possible start 16
Standards of temperature and humidity 17
Lighting program to encourage feed
intake and growth 19
From 4 to 16 weeks - Building the
potential of the future layer 20
Housing and equipment 20
A good follow up with a weekly
check of the development 21
Targets in rearing 21
Targets in production 21
Beak treatment: A delicate operation 21
Age of beak treatment 22
During beak treatment: Attention points 22
After beak treatment: Attention points 22
General principals of the lighting
programs in rearing period 23
Lighting program and growth 23
Control of sexual maturity 23
Light stimulation 24
Light intensity in rearing 24

Age of transfer 26
Points of attention at loading and transport 26
Lighting as a tool for encouraging a rapid
adaptation to a new environment 27

Encouraging water consumption 27
Feeding for physiological needs 28
Encouraging feed consumption 28
Monitoring environmental and
production parameters 29
General principles of lighting programs
during the production period 29
Light intensity in production 29
How to improve shell quality 30
Adjusting egg weight to meet
market requirements 30


Water quality 31
Monitoring water quality 31
Water consumption 32


Biosecurity 33
Welfare and poultry husbandry 33
Disease prevention by immunization 34
Types of vaccines 34
Vaccination methods 35
Ocular (eye drop), beak dipping
and intranasal vaccination 35
Subcutaneous and intramuscular injection 36
Transcutaneous injection (wing web) 36
Vent brush vaccination 37
In ovo injection 37
Drinking water (oral) vaccination 37
Vaccination through a medicator 38
Water vaccination 38
Spray vaccination 40
Parasite control 42
Vaccination against coccidiosis 43
Histomoniasis and round worms 43
Mites 44
Controlling groups of disease by vaccination 44
Respiratory diseases 44
Pertitonitis in layers 45
Diseases of the digestive system 45
Diseases affecting the nervous system 45
Diseases affecting the urinary and reproductive tract 46
Diseases affecting the immune system 46
Disease agents of concern for food safety 46

Warranty disclaimer 47

Product Guide bovans.com 5

Many years of investment in genetic research and development have
resulted in layers with excellent performance traits such as livability,
production and egg quality.

These highly favourable genetic characteristics can only be fully realized

when layers are supported with good management practices, which
include, but are not limited to, good quality feed, housing and constant
attention to the birds behaviour and welfare.

The purpose of this product guide is to help producers to gain the best
possible results from their investment. This will be achieved by providing
conditions in which the layers can thrive. The information supplied in
this publication is based on the analysis of extensive research and field
results, produced over time and with many years of experience.

We do recognize that many egg producers have developed their own

management programs, as a result of their experience with specific
housing types, climate, feed, market conditions. Therefore do not
hesitate to use your own experience in conjunction with the guidelines
in this guide. And of course, do not hesitate to consult our distributors
who will be happy to help in any way they can.

We are constantly seeking to develop our breeding program and

welcome feedback from the field. Please send your technical results
to isa.technicalfieldresults@hendrix-genetics.com. Excel files are available
on request to help you to follow the flock’s performance and record

Laying Period
Livability 94 %

Age at 50% production 143 days

Peak of production 96 %

Average egg weight 62.0 g

Eggs hen housed 426

Egg mass hen housed 26.4 kg

Average feed intake 108 g/day

Cum. feed conversion rate 2.03 kg/kg

Body weight 1710 g

Shell strength 4200 g/cm²

Haugh units 83

Product Guide bovans.com 7

Bovans WHITE
Weeks Age Feed intake per Feed intake per Body weight (g)
(days) bird per day (g) bird cum. (g)

Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum

1 0-7 6 8 40 54 62 65

2 8-14 13 15 128 156 126 132

3 15.21 19 21 260 302 193 203

4 22-28 25 27 432 488 264 278

5 29-35 30 32 641 711 338 356

6 36-42 35 37 882 966 415 436

7 43-49 39 41 1,155 1,253 493 518

8 50-56 43 45 1,455 1,567 572 602

9 57-63 46 48 1,780 1,906 652 686

10 64-70 50 52 2,128 2,268 733 770

11 71-77 53 55 2,498 2,652 812 854

12 78-84 56 58 2,888 3,056 891 937

13 85-91 59 61 3,298 3,480 968 1,017

14 92-98 61 63 3,727 3,923 1,042 1,096

15 99-105 64 66 4,176 4,386 1,114 1,171

16 106-112 67 69 4,646 4,870 1,181 1,242

17 113-119 70 72 5,139 5,377 1,244 1,308

18 120-126 76 78 5,670 5,922 1,302 1,369

The information supplied in this guide is based on many actual

flock results obtained under good environment and managing
conditions. It is presented as a service to our customers and should
be used as a guide only. It does not constitute a guarantee or
warranty of performance in any way.




Bovans White

Product Guide


Bodyweight in g
600 70
Feed consumption in g





0 0

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Age in weeks

Bovans White
Weeks % Lay Egg Egg Feed intake Feed con-
weight mass per day (g) version
(g) per day per week

18 77
19 6.2 42.9 2.6 82 31.17
20 41.5 46.1 19.1 89 4.66
21 66.1 48.8 32.2 95 2.96
22 81.8 51.0 41.7 101 2.41
23 90.4 53.0 47.9 104 2.18
24 94.1 54.6 51.4 105 2.05
25 94.9 56.0 53.1 106 1.99
26 95.3 57.1 54.4 106 1.95
27 95.6 58.0 55.5 107 1.92
28 95.9 58.8 56.3 107 1.90
29 96.1 59.3 57.0 107 1.88
30 96.2 59.8 57.5 108 1.87
31 96.2 60.1 57.9 108 1.86
32 96.2 60.4 58.1 108 1.86
33 96.2 60.6 58.3 108 1.86
34 96.1 60.8 58.4 108 1.86
35 96.0 60.9 58.4 109 1.86
36 95.8 61.0 58.4 109 1.86
37 95.7 61.1 58.4 109 1.86
38 95.5 61.1 58.3 109 1.87
39 95.2 61.2 58.3 109 1.87
40 95.0 61.3 58.2 109 1.88
41 94.7 61.4 58.1 109 1.88
42 94.5 61.5 58.1 109 1.89
43 94.2 61.6 58.0 110 1.89
44 93.9 61.7 57.9 110 1.89
45 93.6 61.8 57.8 110 1.90
46 93.4 61.9 57.7 110 1.90
47 93.1 62.0 57.7 110 1.90
48 92.8 62.1 57.6 110 1.91
49 92.5 62.2 57.5 110 1.91
50 92.2 62.3 57.4 110 1.92
51 91.9 62.3 57.3 110 1.92
52 91.6 62.4 57.2 110 1.92
53 91.3 62.5 57.1 110 1.93
54 91.0 62.6 57.0 110 1.93

Age in Egg Egg Feed in- Feed con- % Body
weeks per mass take cum. version Livability weight
bird cum. (kg) cum. (g)

18 0.5 99.9 1,335

19 0 0.0 1.1 60.25 99.8 1,388
20 3 0.2 1.7 11.42 99.8 1,435
21 8 0.4 2.4 6.37 99.7 1,473
22 14 0.7 3.1 4.65 99.6 1,503
23 20 1.0 3.8 3.82 99.5 1,519
24 26 1.4 4.6 3.36 99.4 1,535
25 33 1.7 5.3 3.07 99.3 1,550
26 40 2.1 6.0 2.87 99.3 1,564
27 46 2.5 6.8 2.72 99.2 1,577
28 53 2.9 7.5 2.61 99.1 1,589
29 60 3.3 8.3 2.52 99.0 1,601
30 66 3.7 9.0 2.45 98.9 1,611
31 73 4.1 9.8 2.39 98.9 1,620
32 80 4.5 10.5 2.34 98.8 1,629
33 86 4.9 11.2 2.30 98.7 1,637
34 93 5.3 12.0 2.27 98.6 1,645
35 100 5.7 12.7 2.24 98.5 1,652
36 106 6.1 13.5 2.22 98.4 1,658
37 113 6.5 14.2 2.19 98.4 1,663
38 119 6.9 15.0 2.18 98.3 1,668
39 126 7.3 15.7 2.16 98.2 1,673
40 132 7.7 16.5 2.14 98.1 1,677
41 139 8.1 17.2 2.13 98.0 1,681
42 145 8.5 18.0 2.12 98.0 1,684
43 152 8.9 18.7 2.11 97.9 1,687
44 158 9.3 19.5 2.10 97.8 1,689
45 165 9.7 20.2 2.09 97.7 1,692
46 171 10.1 21.0 2.08 97.6 1,694
47 177 10.5 21.7 2.08 97.5 1,695
48 184 10.9 22.5 2.07 97.5 1,697
49 190 11.3 23.2 2.07 97.4 1,698
50 196 11.6 24.0 2.06 97.3 1,699
51 203 12.0 24.7 2.06 97.2 1,699
52 209 12.4 25.5 2.05 97.1 1,700
53 215 12.8 26.2 2.05 97.0 1,701
54 221 13.2 27.0 2.04 97.0 1,701

Product Guide bovans.com 11

Bovans White
Weeks % Lay Egg Egg Feed intake Feed con-
weight mass per day (g) version
(g) per day per week

55 90.7 62.7 56.9 110 1.93

56 90.4 62.8 56.8 110 1.94
57 90.1 62.9 56.7 110 1.94
58 89.8 63.0 56.6 110 1.94
59 89.4 63.1 56.4 110 1.95
60 89.1 63.2 56.3 110 1.95
61 88.7 63.3 56.2 110 1.96
62 88.4 63.4 56.1 110 1.96
63 88.1 63.5 55.9 110 1.97
64 87.7 63.6 55.8 110 1.97
65 87.4 63.7 55.7 110 1.98
66 87.1 63.8 55.6 110 1.98
67 86.8 63.9 55.5 110 1.99
68 86.4 64.0 55.3 110 1.99
69 86.1 64.1 55.2 110 1.99
70 85.8 64.2 55.1 110 2.00
71 85.5 64.3 54.9 110 2.00
72 85.1 64.4 54.8 110 2.01
73 84.8 64.5 54.7 110 2.01
74 84.5 64.6 54.6 110 2.02
75 84.2 64.7 54.4 110 2.02
76 83.8 64.8 54.3 110 2.03
77 83.5 64.9 54.2 110 2.03
78 83.2 65.0 54.0 110 2.04
79 82.9 65.1 53.9 110 2.04
80 82.5 65.2 53.8 110 2.05
81 82.2 65.3 53.7 110 2.05
82 81.9 65.4 53.5 110 2.06
83 81.6 65.5 53.4 110 2.06
84 81.2 65.6 53.3 110 2.07
85 80.9 65.7 53.1 110 2.08
86 80.6 65.8 53.0 110 2.08
87 80.2 65.9 52.8 110 2.09
88 79.9 65.9 52.7 110 2.09
89 79.6 66.0 52.6 110 2.10
90 79.3 66.1 52.4 110 2.10

Age in Egg Egg Feed in- Feed con- % Body
weeks per mass take cum. version Livability weight
bird cum. (kg) cum. (g)

55 227 13.6 27.7 2.04 96.9 1,701

56 233 14.0 28.5 2.04 96.8 1,701
57 240 14.4 29.2 2.04 96.7 1,701
58 246 14.7 30.0 2.03 96.6 1,701
59 252 15.1 30.7 2.03 96.6 1,701
60 258 15.5 31.5 2.03 96.5 1,701
61 264 15.9 32.2 2.03 96.4 1,701
62 270 16.3 32.9 2.03 96.3 1,702
63 276 16.6 33.7 2.03 96.2 1,702
64 281 17.0 34.4 2.02 96.1 1,702
65 287 17.4 35.2 2.02 96.1 1,702
66 293 17.8 35.9 2.02 96.0 1,703
67 299 18.1 36.6 2.02 95.9 1,703
68 305 18.5 37.4 2.02 95.8 1,703
69 311 18.9 38.1 2.02 95.7 1,704
70 316 19.2 38.9 2.02 95.7 1,704
71 322 19.6 39.6 2.02 95.6 1,704
72 328 20.0 40.3 2.02 95.5 1,705
73 333 20.3 41.1 2.02 95.4 1,705
74 339 20.7 41.8 2.02 95.3 1,705
75 345 21.1 42.5 2.02 95.2 1,705
76 350 21.4 43.3 2.02 95.2 1,706
77 356 21.8 44.0 2.02 95.1 1,706
78 361 22.1 44.7 2.02 95.0 1,706
79 367 22.5 45.5 2.02 94.9 1,707
80 372 22.9 46.2 2.02 94.8 1,707
81 378 23.2 46.9 2.02 94.8 1,707
82 383 23.6 47.7 2.02 94.7 1,708
83 389 23.9 48.4 2.02 94.6 1,708
84 394 24.3 49.1 2.02 94.5 1,708
85 399 24.6 49.8 2.02 94.4 1,709
86 405 25.0 50.6 2.02 94.3 1,709
87 410 25.3 51.3 2.03 94.3 1,709
88 415 25.7 52.0 2.03 94.2 1,709
89 420 26.0 52.8 2.03 94.1 1,710
90 426 26.4 53.5 2.03 94.0 1,710

Product Guide bovans.com 13

80 Average
75 Weight

70 70
Bovans White

60 65
50 60
45 Bodyweight

40 55
30 50 2000
20 45 1750

10 1500

0 1250
16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90
Age in weeks
Egg mass Feed conversion Cum no. of
in g/day g/egg eggs per HH

145 450

65.0 135 400

62.5 130

60.0 125 350

57.5 120

55.0 115 300

Product Guide
52.5 110

Feed 50.0 105 250

Kg/kg 47.5 100

2.20 45.0 200

2.15 40.0 150
2.10 100

2.05 50

2.00 0
16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90

Age in weeks
Good brooding conditions are vital to
give the chicks the best possible start.
The period from one day old to the point of first egg production is a
critical time in the life of the laying hen. It is during this time that the
physiological capability of the hen is developed.
Success in the rearing period leads to success in the laying house and
this starts with chick arrival. All the standards and programs set out in
this section have been proven to give excellent performance in the
production stages.
Any delay in growth at 4-5 weeks will be reflected in a reduction in
bodyweight at 16 weeks and then in performance. This is particularly
true for mean egg weight in temperate climates and may cause a delay
in start of lay in hot climates near the equator.

Bodyweight development

• 12

Growth (g)

BW Growth

Growth g / day


Muscle at prelay
Reproductive tract


Medullary bone
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Weeks in age

Equipment and environment
Floor Cages
Age (weeks)
0–2 2–5 0–3 3–5
Ventilation Minimum per hour / kg 0.7m³ 0.7m³ 0.7m³ 0.7m³

Stocking densities Birds / m² 30 20 80 45

cm² / Bird 125 220

Water supply Chicks / Chick drinker 75 80 (1)

Birds / drinker 75 75

Birds / nipple 10 10 10 (2) 10 (2)

Feed supply Birds / Starting pan 50 (3)

cm of trough feeders 4 4 2 4

Birds / Round feeder 35 35

(1): Place one additional drinker per cage for the first week
(2): Make sure that all the birds have access to at least 2 nipples
(3): Spread sheets of paper over the cage bottom to last for 7 days,
remove the top sheet every day

• The removal of the supplementary starter drinkers should be done
gradually, making sure that the chicks have acquired the habit of
using the regular drinkers.
• It is useful to monitor water consumption. To maintain litter quality,
it is necessary to avoid water spillage, by carefully regulating the
drinkers or the nipples.
• The drinkers should be cleaned daily for the first 2 weeks. From the
third week they should be cleaned each week.
• Check that all the birds, even the smaller ones have access to feed
and water.
• It is important to use 360° nipples, especially for infra-red beak
treated birds.


In order to ensure that the equipment and the litter are warm for chick
arrival, we advise starting to raise the house temperature at least 36
hours before chick arrival so that it reaches a house temperature of 28
to 31°C. The concrete floor must be at 28°C and litter at 30°C.
The best way to check if the house temperature is correct during the
first days after arrival is to measure cloacal temperature of the chicks

Product Guide bovans.com 17

Standards for temperature and humidity

Brooding Relative
temperature humidity
Age in days temperature Room
at the edge of optimum-
at 2-3m from temperature
the brooders maximum
the brooders

0–3 35°C 29 – 28°C 33 – 31°C 55 – 60

4–7 34°C 28 – 27°C 32 – 31°C 55 – 60
8 – 14 32°C 27 – 26°C 30 – 28°C 55 – 60
15 – 21 29°C 26 – 25°C 28 – 26°C 55 – 60
22 – 24 25 – 23°C 25 – 23°C 55 – 65
25 – 28 23 – 21°C 23 – 21°C 55 – 65
29 – 35 21 – 19°C 21 – 19°C 60 – 70
After 35 19 – 17°C 19 – 17°C 60 – 70

• The heat losses incurred from contact with the litter are very
important during the first days.
• Provision of two gas brooders or 2 radiant heaters of 1450 Kcal is
advised for 1000 birds.
• Temperature and relative humidity should be uniform throughout
the building.
The distribution behaviour of chicks is the best indicator of temperature:
• On floor system, the distribution of chicks in each pen or throughout
the building will help you to manage the correct temperature of
the house.
• If the chicks crowd together under the brooder -> temperature is
too low.
• If the chicks are close to the surroundings -> the temperature is
too high.

Distribution behaviour according to temperature:

Too cold Too warm Draught Ideal

During the first few days, it is important to maintain the chicks under
a maximumw light regime (22 to 23 hours) with a high intensity (30-40
lux) to encourage intake of water and feed. Afterwards, the light intensity
should be gradually reduced to reach a level of about 10 lux at 15 days
of age in dark houses. Light intensity will also depend on bird behaviour.
Note: a cyclical program could be applied for the first 2 weeks (4 hours
of light /2 hours of dark, repeated 4 times to equal 24 hours) and then
follow recommended lighting program, which is 18 hours of light on
third week.

Lighting program according to age and rearing

housing system

Rearing in dark or Rearing in hot climate

semi dark house (open houses)
Light Light Light Light
duration intensity duration intensity
1 – 3 days 23 hours 20 – 40 lux 23 hours 40 lux
4 – 7 days 22 hours 15 – 30 lux 22 hours 40 lux
8 – 14 days 20 hours 10 – 20 lux 20 hours 40 lux
15 – 21 days 18 hours 5 – 10 lux 19 hours 40 lux
22 – 28 days 16 hours 5 – 10 lux 18 hours 40 lux
29 – 35 days 14 hours 5 – 10 lux 17 hours 40 lux

Below are some key-points to provide day old chicks with a good start.
Key points:
• Flush the water lines prior to arrival, and make sure that no
disinfectant is left in the water lines when the chicks arrive.
• Make sure that the nipples and round drinkers are on the correct
height - nipples at chick eye level and round drinkers on the floor.
• Put paper under the nipples to attract the chicks and extra feed
over the chick paper or paper trays.
• Check the nipples / round drinkers to ensure the water supply is
sufficient. When nipples are used the chicks must see the water
drop on the nipple.
• The feed should be distributed when the chicks have drunk enough
water to restore their body fluid (about 2 hours after being placed
in the brooding pens), especially when the birds have travelled for
a long time.
• In hot climate environments, flush the line just before chicks arrived
to provide them fresh water.

Product Guide bovans.com 19

All these recommendations will help to:
• Get a good start and a low mortality level during the first 2 weeks
• A good frame and immune system
• A good uniformity from the start

From 4 to 16 weeks - building the

potential of the future layer
After a good start, the objective of the 4-16 week period is to prepare
the birds for egg production with the best development of:
• The frame
• The bodyweight
• The uniformity
• The digestive tract.
These objectives can be achieved by providing:
• A correct stocking density and housing conditions
• A lighting program adapted to rearing conditions
• Beak treatment performed by trained people
• Good management of the feeding program and feeding techniques
• Good biosecurity


Floor Cages
Age (weeks)
5 – 10 10 – 17 5 – 10 10 – 17
Ventilation Minimum per hour / kg 4m³ 4m³ 4m³ 4m³

Stocking densities Birds / m² 15 10 15 10

Birds / m² (hot climate) 12 9 12 9

cm² / Bird 220 350

Water supply Birds / drinker 100 100

Birds / drinker
75 75
(hot climate)

Birds / nipple 9 8 10 (1) 10 (1)

Feed supply cm of trough feeders 5 7 4 6

Birds / Round feeder 25 23 25 23

(1): Make sure that all the birds have access to at least 2 nipples

A good follow up with a weekly
check of the development
A weekly control of the growth is a must to check the real evolution
of the flock: the earlier you know the earlier you can correct.

• To produce a uniform flock with a bodyweight in accordance with
the target age at sexual maturity
• To obtain the correct bodyweight at 4 weeks to secure frame
• To achieve steady growth between 4 and 16 weeks with a good
development of the digestive tract

• To make sure that between 5% lay and peak of production the
bodyweight increase is at least 300g for brown layers and 200g for
white layers. For these reasons it is essential to exercise control
over bodyweight on a weekly basis from 0 to 30 weeks of age, and
after that, at least once every month.
• Controlling the quantity of feed distributed will not on it’s own
ensure good growth because the requirements vary according
- the energy level of the diet
- the house temperature
- the health status of the flock

Beak treatment: A delicate operation

This operation is normally carried out for two main reasons:
• To prevent feather pecking and cannibalism
• To reduce feed wastage
Beak treatment is a delicate operation and only specially trained
personnel should perform it. If improperly done, it may result in birds
having difficulty eating and drinking and lead to a non-uniform flock
as a consequence.

Product Guide bovans.com 21

In addition to technical recommendations, any local codes and
regulations concerned with animal welfare should be observed.
The decision about the age of beak treatment depends mostly on the
housing system and local regulations:
• In cage productions, in dark houses, when the intensity of artificial
light is low, beaks should be treated at one day old or at 7 to 10
• Production in open-sided houses, giving exposure to high natural
light intensity, one single beak tipping at 7 to 10 days will not
prevent pecking entirely. Under these conditions, beak treatment
should be carried out twice: a light tipping at 10 days and then a
second operation between 8 and 10 weeks of age, where local
regulations allow it.


The operator should be seated comfortably so that each beak is cut in
the same manner
• Do not rush the process: too high a rate (number of birds/ minute
could lead to a higher chance of errors and poor=uniformity.
• Change blades when required: maximum recommended usage
for a blade is 5.000 birds.
• Make sure the tongue of the bird does not get burned.


• Increase the water level in the drinkers and decrease the water
pressure in the pipes to make it easy for the birds to drink.
• Make sure that the depth of the feed is adequate, do not empty
the feeders for a week after beak treatment.

Beak treatment is a very delicate operation and it is important

enough to be done correctly. Improper beak treatment can damage
bird livability and uniformity and consequently affect negatively
the overall flock performances.

General principles of the lighting
programs in rearing period
Chickens are sensitive to changes in the duration of illumination, and
this will influence the age of sexual maturity. In addition, feed
consumption is greatly influenced by the duration of day length. Lighting
programs have, therefore, different objectives.
During rearing, they allow us to encourage growth and to control
the birds’ sexual maturity. For this reason, we consider lighting
programs to be essential to achieve;
• The recommended bodyweight at 5% lay.
• In order to obtain an egg weight which conforms to the target from
start of lay.
• To achieve high overall production.


In addition to the influence on growth, the lighting program plays a
determinant role for 3 essential reasons:
• Progressive growth of the digestive system.
• Gradual adaptation to a body clock (above all, anticipation of a dark
• Lack of night time energy supply when dark periods are too long.
Observations of the feeding and drinking behaviour show a first peak
of feed intake in the 2 to 3 hours that precede a dark period, and a second
peak shortly after lights come on. The crop is used during these peaks
of consumption as a storage organ.
The introduction of a dark period from the start of the rearing period is
important to progressively develop the crop capacity, which plays the
role of feed reserve. However the amount of feed stocked remains
insufficient for the nocturnal energy needs.


The purpose of lighting programs is to control the age at point of lay
and above all to avoid the influence of the variations in natural day
length. Do not underestimate the effect of even the slightest variations
in day length.

Product Guide bovans.com 23

Role of bodyweight
Photo stimulation is not necessary to stimulate production even when
the pullets are reared under very short day lengths.
• A trial carried out by Lewis (1996)(1) shows that with a day length
greater or equal to 10 hours, the age at 50% lay does not vary, or
only a little. On the other hand, a day length kept at 8 hours appears
to delay sexual maturity by one week. This delay of maturity with
8 hours at the plateau is explained by the lower growth obtained
compared to 10 or more hours of lighting program.
• These observations are confirmed in latitudes close to the Equator.
With very little change in day length, we have seen that sexual
maturity is mainly activated by obtaining adequate bodyweight.
The higher the latitude is the higher the differences in sexual maturity
between summer and winter flocks are.

• The variation of light duration greatly influences sexual maturity.
Under certain conditions, we can observe a response to a light
stimulation from 6 weeks of age. However, the more sensitive
period is between 10 and 12 weeks of age.
• According to the program being used, the age at 50% can vary by
up to 6 weeks
Light stimulation will change the bird`s weight at sexual maturity, its
adult weight and as a consequence, the egg weight, which is directly
related to the bodyweight of the bird at first egg.
Bird weight at sexual maturity will be 75g lower when light stimulation
is advanced one week. Egg numbers will be greater but egg weight
will be reduced by about 1g. Total egg mass produced does not seem
to be affected by reasonable variations in the age of sexual maturity
(Lewis 1997)(2).
For this reason, it is preferable to determine the time of light stimulation
according to bodyweight rather than the of age of the bird.


Little information is available. However some work has shown that light
intensity can be very low. Morris (1995)(3) showed that an intensity
greater than 1 lux did not modify sexual maturity.

Ideal light intensity will be determined in practice by the following
• Light required to inspect the birds well.
• The degree of darkness of the building (light leaking in)
• The intensity to be used during laying period.
Lighting programs have to be adapted to the rearing facilities (dark or
open house systems), to the conditions of production, to the climate
and to the egg weight profile demanded by the market. In order to get
an efficient light stimulation, the day length increase has to be done in
the morning.
For rearing in dark house systems and production in an open house
system, it is necessary to maintain a high light intensity throughout all
the rearing period in order to avoid a sudden increase of light intensity.
The lighting programs suggested below are only guides. They have to
be adapted to the real circumstances of the rearing farm and according
to performances previously obtained.

Guide line for lighting program for rearing in a dark poultry



0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Age in weeks

Lighting program Lighting program Lighting program

during temperate period during hot season during maturity

We consider essential to achieve the recommended bodyweight at

light stimulation and at 5% lay, in order to obtain an egg weight which
conforms to the target, and to achieve high overall production.

Product Guide bovans.com 25

The transfer from the rearing farm to the laying facilities is a major stress,
accompanied by changes in environment (temperature, humidity…)
and equipment. It should be carried out as fast as possible, ideally being
completed within a day. Be sure the production house is clean,
disinfected and temperature is minimum 17°C.
Then, between transfer and the peak of production, a rapid increase
in feed intake is necessary since the bird has to cover:
• Its requirements to grow to the adult bodyweight.
• Its requirements to achieve peak of production.
• Its requirements to get a rapid egg weight increase.

We advise transferring the birds at 16 weeks, maybe even at 15 weeks,
but never after 17 weeks.
Because of the stress to which birds are subjected during transfer and
immediately afterwards:
• It is extremely important that transfer is completed before the
appearance of the first eggs: most development of reproductive
organs (ovary and oviduct) occurs during the 10 days prior to the
first egg.
• We advice that vaccinations are given at least a week before transfer,
so as to obtain a good vaccine response.
• De-worming of the flock, if necessary, is best done in the last days
before moving, depending on the de worming product used.
• A late transfer or too long a transfer often leads to delayed start of
lay and higher mortality and increases the risk of floor laying in
non-cage systems.


The following rules should minimise stress at handling of the birds at
loading and during later transport:
• The birds should have an empty digestive tract at the moment of
loading, but they must have access to fresh drinking water up to
the time of being loaded.
• Choose the best time for transport during the day or night,
depending on the weather circumstances.

• Crates or containers, equipment, trucks etc. must be thoroughly
cleaned and disinfected.
• Make sure that air can circulate freely around the crates, but protect
pullets from direct air flow. Containers or crates should not be
overloaded, particularly in hot weather on long distance hauls.
• Avoid unnecessary stops during transit of the birds.


Immediately after the birds arrive at the laying unit, it is very important
to put into practice the following techniques to help the birds adapt
to the new environment, particularly to cages and nipple systems.
• Apply 22 hours of light the first day.
• Light duration should be decided according to what has been used
during rearing.
• Increase the light intensity for 4 to 7 days to help the birds in the
darkest cages to find nipples.
• Then reduce light intensity gradually while ensuring that normal
water intake continues. A high light intensity for longer than 7 days
can increase the risks of pecking.


Birds can become dehydrated during transfer. The water loss rate ranges
between 0,3% and 0,5% per hour according to atmospheric conditions.
• Pullets should drink before feeding: the absence of feed helps them
find the nipple drinkers more easily.
• Make sure that the water pipes have been rinsed before pullets
• Wait for 3 or 4 hours before distributing feed and check if drinking
system is working properly.
• If the pullets have not been reared on nipples, decrease the pressure
and allow some leakage of water during the first few days.
• If nipples are planned for production, it is helpful to add at least
one nipple for 200 birds to the other drinking equipment used in
rearing, as a “nipples school”.
• A daily water consumption control is of paramount importance.

Product Guide bovans.com 27

• About 2 weeks before the first egg is laid, the medullary bone,
which acts as a reservoir of calcium for eggshell formation, develops.
Therefore a pre-lay diet needs to be used, containing enough
calcium and phosphorus, for this bone formation. This diet should
be switched to a layer diet as soon as production reaches 2% to
avoid any demineralization.
• Then, an early lay feed with a high content of amino acids (about
7% higher than after peak diet) should be used. This feed needs
to satisfy requirements for early production, growth and
reproductive development.


From the start of lay to the peak of production, feed consumption
should increase by about 40% to allow the birds to meet their
requirements for egg production and growth.
To encourage bird appetite and feed intake, the following advice should
be put into practice:
• Maintain the temperature at point of lay as close as possible to the
temperature to which the birds became acclimatised during rearing.
Growth at the point of lay is reduced above 24°C, and is extremely
low above 28°C.
• Minimize house temperature variations and avoid draughts.
• Use an adapted light duration, achieving 15 hours of light at 50%
of production.
• Providing 1hour 30 minutes to 2 hours of supplementary light in
the middle of the dark period will help to attain the correct
bodyweight by allowing an extra feed intake (“midnight feeding”).
• Limit the number of feed distributions according to equipment
to avoid selective feeding and competition for large particles which
could lead to lack of uniformity.
• Adapt the feeding times as to achieve 60% of feed consumed in
the last 6 hours of the day and to have empty feeders for 2 to 3
hours in the middle of the day. This technique avoids a build up of
fine particles and its consequent negative effect on feed intake.
• Use a layer feed with the correct grist (80% of particles between
0,5 and 3,2 of diameter).

A close control of the following parameters will help you to check the
real evolution of the flock during this critical period for the future
• Feed consumption (daily).
• Water consumption (daily) and water/feed ratio.
• Temperature (min-max) and relative humidity (daily).
• Evolution of bodyweight (weekly until peak of lay), by weighing
the birds up to 35 weeks of age.
• Evolution of egg weight (daily for the first weeks of lay).

General principles of lighting

programs during the production
In production as well as in rearing, the lighting program greatly influences
feed consumption. In addition, during all its life, a chicken remains
sensitive to changes in the duration of illumination.
The objective of the lighting programs during the production period
• To encourage growth at start of lay.
• To counteract the harmful effects of decreases in natural day length.
• To control the livability through the light intensity management.
• To improve eggshell quality.
Other lighting programs can also be introduced during the production
period to adapt the egg weight to market demand, to improve eggshell
quality or to control feed intake for some breeds.


The light intensity required is low. No significant differences have been
found in the different trials with today’s breeds. But as stated for the
rearing period, we encourage an increase in light intensity for a few days
from the transfer time in order to help the bird to discover its new
environment and to find easily water and feed systems.
Thereafter, the light intensity can be reduced step by step to a minimum
of 0,5 lux at the feeder level in the dimmest areas of the laying house as
long as during the rearing stage light intensity doesn’t exceed 10 lux.
There is a strong relation between bird activity, stocking density and
feather loss during production.

Product Guide bovans.com 29

All methods that help to increase the quantity of calcium stored in the
gizzard before lights off and to ingest a soluble form of calcium after
lights on, have a positive effect on shell quality. According after transfer
we advise:
For white layers:
• Encourage maximum feed intake during the last 4 hours of the
day (distribute 4 hours before lights out).
• Arrange to have feeders empty in the middle of the day to
encourage feed intake in the afternoon.
• Ensure that the calcium content of the feed has 50% in particles
of 2 to 4 mm to encourage retention in the gizzards and storage
for the night period.
• Provide 50% of the calcium in easy soluble power form for quick
availability at lights on.
Important note:
During the hot season or in summer, heat stress can delay the oviposition
time, mainly when birds are panting. Panting provokes a loss of carbon
dioxide and bicarbonate in blood plasma. As a consequence, oviposition
times are delayed. In these circumstances the maximum feed possible
has to be given during midnight lighting and early in the morning to
maintain production and shell quality.


Egg producers want to produce eggs of a size which matches market
demand and in the end satisfies the needs of their customers and
optimises margins.
The principal factors affecting egg weight are:
• Genetic aspects
• Bodyweight at sexual maturity (so at the time of the first egg is
• Feed consumption and growth from first egg till achieving of adult
• Nutritional factors; For eggshell quality reasons, a minimum of 60%
of the feed, needs to be distributed in the afternoon.

The water is the most critical nutrient for the poultry. The daily control
of water consumption is essential. If an animal does not drink, it will not
eat and can not produce.

Good quality drinking water is very important for (production) animals.
Birds must always have easy access to the drinking water, the water
must be fresh and bright. Taste and smell seem to be of less importance
to the birds but are indicators for the water quality.

Good quality Do not use
pH 5 – 8,5 <4 and >9
Ammonium mg/l <2,0 >10
Nitrite mg/l <0,1 >1,0
Nitrate mg/l <100 >200
Chloride mg/l <250 >2000
Sodium mg/l <800 >1500
Sulfate mg/l <150 >250
Iron mg/l <0,5 >2,5
Mangane mg/l <1,0 >2,0
Lime/chulk content <20 >25
Oxidizable organic matter mg/l <50 >200
H2S non detectable non detectable
Coliform bacteria’s cfu/ml <100 >100
Total bacteria count cfu/ml <100.000 >100.000


The value of any analysis depends on when, where, and how the sample
has been taken, (where it enters the house or at the end of the system).
One should not forget that an analysis only refers to the quality of the
water at the time when the sample was taken, and is never a guarantee
of its quality at another time. Where farms have their own water supply,

Product Guide bovans.com 31

it is necessary to take a sample at least twice a year (one at the end of
winter, the other at the end of summer). On farms using the mains
supply an annual measurement should be adequate. It is important
to realise that the sodium thiosulphate, contained in the flasks supplied
by the laboratories carrying out bacteriological tests on water, only
neutralises chlorine or bleach. It has no action on quaternary ammonium

Water consumption depends on ambient temperature. Above 20°C,
consumption increases to enable the bird to maintain body temperature
(respiratory evaporation).
The actual consumption depends on temperature and humidity of the
ambient air. The following table shows the relationship between water
and feed consumption according to house temperature:
Water to feed ratio according to temperature in rearing and laying

Temperature Rearing Production

15°C 1.6 1.70 (210 ml)
20°C 1.7 1.80 (205 ml)
25°C 2.3 2.10 (230 ml)
30°C 3.0 3.10 (320 ml)

In hot periods it is essential to provide cool water for the birds. In a hot
climate, cool water will improve productivity. It is extremely important to
protect the water tanks from the direct sunlight.

Bird health results from the interface between adequate biosecurity,
animal welfare, poultry husbandry, nutrition, immunization, and general
disease prevention, control and monitoring. This section is intended
to serve as a general guide for maintaining healthy flocks. Details on
actual procedures should be provided by a poultry health professional.

The concept of biosecurity may be complex and difficult to generalize
or adapt for every possible circumstance. The objective of biosecurity
is to prevent infectious disease from affecting otherwise healthy flocks.
Among the many strategies used to prevent infectious disease, some
of the most effective ones include:
a) limit access of unnecessary visitors; b) avoiding visits to multiple
farms in the same day; c) shower in and out of any poultry facility; d)
even when showering is not possible, it is imperative to wear clean
clothes or coveralls. Footwear and hairnets that should not leave the
farm being visited; e) establish, maintain and monitor adequate
programs for rodent and insect control. In addition, it is important to
consider all major risks in terms of biosecurity such as moving birds
into and from the farm; sales, maintenance, equipment and construction
personnel; manure removal personnel, vehicles and equipment. Service
personnel should not visit any flocks after having been in contact with
flocks with known, suspect, or obvious signs of disease caused by
agents such as MG, MS, ILT or IBV.


Overall bird health is relatively easy to maintain by simply applying
good husbandry. The health and productivity of chickens is closely
related to their welfare, which in turn depends on the use of adequate
biosecurity and husbandry practices. In many areas, official regulations
dictate specific requirements related to animal welfare and it is important
to ensure compliance with regulatory agencies. Local or national poultry
associations and Government institutions are usually a good source
of welfare guidelines that are relevant for each geographical area.

Product Guide bovans.com 33

An individual becomes “immune”, “immunized” or resistant to a specific
disease after inoculation with a specific vaccine, or after exposure to a
disease agent in the field. Vaccination programs should be designed
to “immunize” flocks against diseases with an economic impact; and
against disease agents that could potentially compromise food safety.
The entire disease control program relies on sound and well-designed
vaccination programs and adequate biosecurity, husbandry and
nutrition. At the same time, vaccinations should be administered at
times or ages when their detrimental impact is minimal, and at times
when the best possible benefit can be obtained from them.
Most vaccination programs are intended to immunize chickens against
diseases that affect the immune system; cause tumors in chickens;
affect the respiratory, urinary or reproductive tracts; affect the nervous
system; induce disease in the intestinal tract; or represent a food safety
concern. Fortunately there are vaccines and vaccination methods
available to protect chickens against most of these groups of conditions.
Prior to using any vaccines, ensure that their use is legal and that it will
not disqualify specialty flocks because of the type of preservatives
contained in the vaccines.

There are many types of vaccines available for commercial poultry. It
is important to become familiar with their basic characteristics related
to their potential for protection, safety, ease of administration, relative
cost, reactivity, compatibility with other vaccines, etc. This is a list of
some of the most important types of vaccines:
• Live virus vaccines
• Recombinant virus vaccines
• Live bacterial vaccines
• Inactivated bacterial vaccines (bacterins)
• Gene modified and deletion mutant live bacterial vaccines
• Autogenous inactivated bacterial vaccines
• Autogenous inactivated viral vaccines
• Live coccidiosis vaccines
• Live Mycoplasma vaccines
• Inactivated Mycoplasma vaccines (bacterins)
• Recombinant Mycoplasma vaccines
• Competitive exclusion products

It is important to understand the characteristics of each vaccine and
to use each product according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Vaccines are designed and approved for individual or mass application
Individual vaccination methods include:
• Ocular (eye drop)
• Beak dipping or intranasal
• Subcutaneous injection
• Intramuscular injection
• Transcutaneous injection (wing web)
• Vent brush application
Mass vaccination methods include:
• In ovo injection
• Drinking water vaccination
• Spray vaccination


Eye drop vaccination is commonly used to protect chickens against
respiratory viruses, Mycoplasma and occasionally against infectious
bursal disease. Ocular vaccination is most suitable for delivery of live
vaccines against diseases or agents such as (but not exclusively)
Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis, infectious laryngotracheitis,
avian metapneumovirus and Mycoplasma gallisepticum. Eye drop
vaccination is likely the most effective and safest method for respiratory
viruses. Direct contact of the vaccine with the mucosa of the eye will
result in stimulation of the Harderian gland and a strong local immune
Despite being highly effective, eye drop vaccination is labor intensive
and time consuming and thus it is usually limited to application of
vaccines that must be administered via the ocular route and by no
other method, such as some (but not all) live MG vaccines and live
attenuated vaccines against ILT. Intranasal and beak dipping application
of vaccines has the same objectives as the ocular route. Intranasal
application is popular in some countries but beak dipping is rarely
used. The vaccine is administered by depositing a drop (usually 30 ul
or 0.03 ml) of reconstituted vaccine directly on the eye or into the
nostrils. The advantage of eye drop application is that if applied properly,
every bird receives a similar dose of vaccine and is thus likely to be
immunized (protected) against the disease, as opposed to mass
application methods, which unavoidably result in suboptimal coverage
since not every bird receives an equally immunizing dose.

Product Guide bovans.com 35

Because eye drop vaccination requires individual handling of birds,
biosecurity is most important and the vaccination crews must follow
strict biosecurity procedures so as not to bring infectious diseases to
the flock being vaccinated. For the beak dipping method to be
successful, both nostrils must be immersed in the vaccine. This method
is suitable only for chicks up to 7 days of age and is used for immunization
against NDV or IBDV. It is used in areas or farms where even vaccine
uptake is not possible using the drinking water or spray methods, or
with the objective of minimizing vaccine reactions.


Injection via the intramuscular and subcutaneous routes is reserved
primarily for inactivated vaccines and bacterins. The vaccination
equipment should be sterile and the needles used should be of the
proper caliber and length for the age of the bird and also for the type
of product being injected. The needles should be replaced with sterile
needles at least every 500 injections to prevent injections with bent
or blunt needles, and to avoid transmission of some diseases from
infected to non-infected chickens. Most inactivated (killed) vaccines
are administered at approximately 12-14 weeks of age. Should it be
necessary to vaccinate younger chickens with inactivated products it
should be kept in mind that handling and administration of inactivated
vaccines or bacterins between 6 and 11 weeks of age might delay or
alter the development of the pullets. Inactivated viral vaccines are
usually available in a water-in-oil (WO) or water-in-oil-in-water (WOW)
emulsion, which are typically not very reactive. Thus, such products
can be injected with confidence intramuscularly or subcutaneously,
provided the injection is done in the proper area and without depositing
any of the vaccine product in the cavity or directly into the internal
Inactivated products containing Mycoplasmas and/or bacteria such
as Salmonella may be quite reactive and every effort should be made
to minimize the local vaccine reactions that can be derived from the
injections. For subcutaneous injections, it is especially important to
avoid the thymus by injecting the vaccine in the middle line (avoiding
the sides of the neck), and by not injecting too close to the head or the
base of the neck. For intramuscular injections (in the breast muscle),
every effort should be made to avoid injecting the product into the
cavity. Vaccinations in the thigh may contribute to reduced adverse
reactions but care must be exercised to minimize injuries resulting in


Transcutaneous (wing web) application is used almost exclusively to
vaccinate chickens against poxvirus (POX). For convenience,
manufacturers of vaccines have added other agents such as chicken
infectious anemia virus (CAV) and avian encephalomyelitis virus (AE)

to POX vaccines and thus it is possible to vaccinate pullets simultaneously
against AE, POX and CAV in one injection. The latter (CAV) is only
necessary in layer breeders but AE and POX are routinely used in
commercial layers. In addition, there are recombinant vaccines with a
poxvirus as a vector carrying genes that express proteins from ILTV or
MG. Thus, such products can also be administered by wing web


Vent brush vaccination was developed decades ago to protect chickens
against ILTV using vaccine strains that were extremely reactive and
caused vaccine-induced ILT. The procedure involves dipping a rough
brush into the reconstituted ILTV vaccine vial and brushing harshly the
mucosa of the vent. This procedure is still used with relative success in
some countries for administration of live attenuated vaccines against

In ovo vaccination is a mass-application procedure that is reserved for
vaccination of embryos in the hatchery and is typically done at 17 to
19 days of incubation. The procedure was designed for immunization
against Marek’s disease virus (MDV). With the advent of recombinant
vaccines, in ovo vaccination can now be used to protect chickens
against diseases such as Marek’s disease, fowl poxvirus, infectious
laryngotracheitis, infectious bursal diseases (Gumboro) and Newcastle
disease. In addition, coccidiosis vaccines are now registered and
approved for in ovo administration.


Vaccination via the drinking water is a suitable method to vaccinate
pullets against hardy viruses such as infectious bursal disease virus
(IBDV) and CIAV, but it can be used to immunize against diseases such
as Newcastle, infectious bronchitis, colibacillosis, salmonellosis and
other diseases. Along with spray vaccination and in ovo vaccination,
administration of live vaccines via the drinking water is considered a
mass-application method. Although practical, mass application methods
usually result in less-than-optimal vaccine coverage and thus protection
might be suboptimal compared with individual vaccination methods.
Vaccination via the drinking water should be used in birds one week
old or older because water consumption in younger pullets might be
too irregular. Oral vaccination can be done by directly adding the
vaccine into the water reservoirs supplying water to the barn to be
vaccinated; it can also be accomplished by using “medicators” or
“dosifiers” that can be connected to the main water pipelines feeding
the drinkers.

Product Guide bovans.com 37

The method relies on the preparation of a stock solution of vaccine
that is to be placed in a container (a clean bucket) from which the
medicator draws small quantities of vaccine that is mixed automatically
with fresh incoming water in the water pipelines. For example, 28,5 ml
of stock solution of vaccine is drawn by the medicator and mixed with
every 3,78 liters of fresh water to be consumed. This method requires
that the birds to be vaccinated are thirsty so that water consumption
helps to consume the vaccine rapidly (within approximately 60 minutes).
Thus, access to water by the birds should be interrupted for
approximately 2 hours (depending on the temperature, humidity, age
of the birds, etc.) prior to vaccination. Because the stock solution is
drawn in a pulse manner, and because it must be mixed with incoming
water automatically before it is delivered it is not possible to achieve
an even vaccination in all birds.


Vaccination through a medicator is one of the methods of vaccination
with live virus vaccines which is least recommended, although it is a
suitable method for administration of drugs, vitamins, etc. Coccidiosis
vaccination using a medicator should be avoided because the Eimeria
oocysts will tend to settle and the actual dose of oocysts per bird will
vary greatly, and so giving very poor results.

Water vaccination can also be accomplished using a water pump to
“inject” or “force” the vaccine into the water lines, which is a popular
and very effective method of mass application using the drinking water
for delivery of live vaccines. Water pump vaccination requires a closed
water system (nipple drinker lines) and can be used successfully for
delivery of vaccines against diseases or disease agents such as IBDV or
CIAV. As with other methods involving water delivery, this one requires
that the birds be thirsty prior to delivering the vaccine to them. Wherever
possible, the drinker lines are raised high enough so as to prevent
drinking by the birds in the 2-3 hours prior to vaccination.
Water vaccination requires flushing the drinker lines with fresh water
to minimize the amount of unwanted residues. Commercial products
can be used to clean the drinker lines thoroughly prior to vaccination.
Even after the use of commercial products, it is recommended to flush
the lines with clean fresh water before vaccinating the flock. This is
particularly important in operations that have hard water, or in operations
that have used antibacterial drugs or other products that may have
formed a film in the drinker lines. Prior to vaccination, it is important to
water-starve the pullets to be vaccinated so that most will consume
vaccine upon its administration. Check the drinkers or nipple drinkers
to ensure they are clean and operational and shut down all water
sanitizing systems. Allow the birds to become thirsty by interrupting
their access to water.

The amount of time required for the birds to become thirsty will depend
on their age, environmental temperature, feed formulation, etc. The
goal should be for all pullets to consume the vaccine in a matter of 60
minutes. If the birds consume the vaccine in less time, it would mean
they were too thirsty. On the other hand, if it takes the birds more than
one hour to fully consume the vaccine this would be an indication that
the water was not removed long enough prior to vaccination.
A few essential steps for water vaccination are listed as follows:
• Clean and flush the water lines.
• Turn off the water sanitation system.
• Ensure proper functioning of the drinker system.
• Water-starve the pullets enough for them to consume the vaccine
in less than one hour.
• Verify that the vaccine to be administered has been stored according
to the manufacturer’s recommendations; that it is still viable (before
expiry); and maintain a record of the type of vaccine, serial (lot)
number, number of doses per vial and number of vials used, as
well as the expiry date.
• Reconstitute the vaccine in an aseptic manner and verify that the
number of vials used matches the number of doses to be given.
The amount of vaccine to be consumed in volume should be
equivalent to approximately 1/7 the total water consumed the
previous day.
• Use a commercially produced vaccine stabilizer or powdered skim
milk to help protect the vaccine viruses. Closely follow the
recommendations of the manufacturer of the vaccine stabilizer.
If skimmed milk is used, approximately 2.5g of well-dissolved skim
milk per liter of water plus vaccine is enough to protect the vaccine
from any residual chemicals or minerals in the drinking water. Keep
the reconstituted vaccine cool and away from exposure to the
• Deliver the vaccine into the drinkers and drinker lines. To ensure a
complete fill out of the drinker lines (pipes) add a visual aid such
as commercial blue dye and let the vaccine be flushed to the end
of the lines until blue dye is seen at the end of the lines. At this time
close the end of the water lines and allow the birds to drink. If the
vaccine is delivered into open water systems, it is important to
walk slowly through the house to stimulate water consumption
and to help distribute the birds in the house.
• Check at least 100 birds throughout the barn to verify that they
have consumed the vaccine. If enough dye was used, it should be
easy to observe a blue coloring of the tongue, head feathers and
occasionally the crop, which is visible through the skin. Vaccine
coverage of at least 90% should be a realistic goal.

Product Guide bovans.com 39

Spray vaccination is used primarily for immunization against respiratory
viruses such as Newcastle disease virus (NDV) and infectious bronchitis
virus (IBV). However, it should be noted that spray vaccination should
involve the less invasive forms or strains of viruses, such as the B1B1
strain of Newcastle, or H120 of infectious bronchitis. In general, the
more invasive the virus, the better the protection against disease but
the harsher the vaccine reactions, especially in flocks infected with Mg
or some strains of MS. Coccidiosis vaccines are sometimes sprayed on
the feed of layer breeders in some areas. Some live Mycoplasma
gallisepticum vaccines (but not all) can be sprayed directly on chickens
in the field. Each type of equipment intended for spray vaccinations
may be different and the operator must be thoroughly familiar with
each piece of equipment and its spray patterns, pressure and particle
size. For example, pressurized sprayers are excellent to deliver vaccine
to the respiratory tract but because of the small particle size that they
produce, the vaccine will tend to remain suspended in the air or it may
be sucked towards the house fans if they are not turned off prior to
vaccinating the birds. With some types of sprayers the equipment must
be located not more than 50 cm over those birds to be vaccinated. This
method is therefore not practical for mass application over chickens
on the ground. Rather, sprayers intended for horticultural use or pesticide
application in the horticultural industry have proved very popular and
effective for application of live respiratory vaccines in the field. The
particle size will range between 100 and 300 um, which is suitable for
most respiratory viruses. In general, spray vaccination is used for
protection against respiratory viruses and Mycoplasma in pullets; and
for protection against respiratory viruses in hens in production.
A few essential considerations for spray vaccination are listed as follows:
• Prior to choosing spray vaccination to immunize chickens against
respiratory viral diseases, consider all possible options. Be aware
that spray vaccination against Newcastle disease and Infectious
Bronchitis generally provides better protection than water
vaccination, but vaccine reactions can be harsh, particularly in
Mycoplasma-positive chickens. Spray vaccination against Infectious
Laryngotracheitis should be avoided and must never be done in
chickens in production. Only vaccinate healthy chickens.
• For adult flocks, verify the flock antibody titers prior to vaccination.
If antibody titers are low, vaccine reactions may be harsh.
• Ensure that the vaccination equipment has been thoroughly
cleaned, disinfected and rinsed to remove all traces of vaccine and
• Drive the birds (if reared on the floor) to an area of the barn where
they can be vaccinated without them flying or moving freely away
from the vaccination equipment.
• Calculate the total number of doses and the total volume of diluent

(distilled deionized water) required to vaccine all chickens. The
water used should not be chlorinated and should have a pH of 5,5
to 7,0.
• Turn off the lights, brooders and ventilation system while ensuring
the birds do not overheat or suffocate. The flock should be relatively
calm at the moment of spraying the vaccine on them.
• Reconstitute the vaccine aseptically and in the shade, and only
immediately prior to vaccinating the flock.
• Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including
protective mask and goggles.
• Adjust the spray nozzle to a proper droplet size. Coarse sprays
(>80-120 microns) are recommended for priming vaccinations
and also for invasive vaccines. Fine sprays (50-60 microns) are
recommended for boost vaccinations in older chickens, but only
after they have been primed with similar viruses.
• MG-infected chickens tend to react too severely to spray
vaccinations, particularly if the droplet size is too small.
• Use distilled water to dilute the vaccine (the amount should be
adjusted to every situation). If a pressurized spray apparatus is used,
it should be kept in mind that this type of equipment delivers
droplets with a diameter range of 50-1000 microns, and thus only
part of the vaccine will be inhaled. Thus, it is necessary to spray the
vaccine at a distance not larger than 50cm from the chickens. This
type of equipment typically requires a relatively large volume per
chicken house (15-20 liters). For situations where a controlled-
droplet application apparatus is used, the droplet size is considerably
more uniform (~50-150 microns). Although the droplet size is more
uniform with this type of equipment, some of the droplets are too
small and may remain in suspension for quite some time after the
vaccine is sprayed. This may represent a problem because a vaccine
that stays in suspension a long time may decrease in virus titer
before it is inhaled and much of the vaccine ends up on house
and equipment surfaces but not in the chickens. In addition, if
much of the vaccine remains in suspension (in the form of a mist),
re-activating the ventilation system will draw the vaccine out of
the house through the exhaust fans.
• Only spray-vaccinate healthy birds. Avoid spraying birds that are
infected with MG.
• Adjust the nozzle to obtain the desired droplet size.
• Wear a mask and goggles for personal protection when spray-
• Make sure the sprayer to be used is clean and has no residual
disinfectant. The vaccine containers of the spray apparatus should
be rinsed with distilled water prior to and after every use.
• Use only one dose per bird or less.

Product Guide bovans.com 41

• Reconstitute the vaccine only immediately prior to use.
• Close up the house including curtains and doors and shut the
ventilation system and dim the lights while the birds are being
vaccinated and if possible, during 20-30 minutes post-vaccination
(provided the air quality and temperature allow for a temporary
shut down without compromising the flock integrity). If the flock
is in a high temperature area, vaccinate birds at night or early in
the morning. Make sure the ventilation system is not running at
the time the vaccine is being applied or that it runs at a minimum
power. Dim the lights to a minimum to settle the birds.
• Spray the birds evenly and thoroughly at least twice and ensure
that all calculated doses are used evenly. The heads and upper
body of the sprayed birds should appear wet after vaccination.
• Make a point of not leaving the farm without making sure the
ventilation system and the lights have been re-engaged. Ventilation
should be restored approximately 20 minutes after the initiation
of the vaccination process.
• Rinse, clean, disinfect and re-rinse the vaccination equipment
before leaving the farm.
• Destroy all residual vaccine and vaccine vials by incineration. Follow
local regulations regarding adequate disposal of vaccines, vaccine
vials and biological materials.

The most common internal parasites in laying hens include coccidia,
Histomonas (“black head”), Capillaria worms, round (Ascaridia) worms,
and cecal (Heterakis) worms. External parasites frequently seen in layer
operations include the Northern fowl mite (Ornythonyssus), the red
mite or roost mite (Dermanyssus) - poultry lice are less frequent but
can occur in commercial operations. The Northern fowl mite completes
its entire life cycle on the birds, whereas the red mite feeds on the birds
only at night. As a whole, mites are external parasites that must be
controlled to avoid drops in egg production, dermatitis around the
vent, restless birds, increased mortality and farm employee discomfort.
Some mites are known to carry other disease agents and can induce
anemia if the infestation is severe and thus must be controlled.


Pullets reared in battery cages do not ordinarily experience significant
internal parasitic diseases. However, if they have access to droppings
in the hen house because of the type of equipment and manure removal
systems, outbreaks of coccidiosis could potentially occur. Regardless
of the type of operation, it is important to ensure immunity against
coccidiosis, which can be accomplished by using one of two common
methods. Where legal, pullets reared on the floor may be treated with
anticoccidial drugs for 8-12 weeks to allow for a gradual acquisition of

immunity. Commonly used drugs for this purpose include (not
exclusively) amprolium and salinomycin. However, other anticoccidial
drugs have been used successfully. Perhaps the best approach to
control coccidiosis in pullets reared on the floor is vaccination. Pullets
can be vaccinated by spray at the hatchery with one of the various
commercially available vaccines. It is important to use a commercial
product that will contain at least E. acervulina, E. maxima, E. tenella and
E. necatrix.
Coccidiosis vaccines for broiler chickens do not contain E. necatrix, an
essential component of coccidiosis vaccines for longevity in birds.
When coccidiosis vaccines are used it is critical not to medicate the
flock with any drug that coccidia would be sensitive to, in order to allow
at least two complete coccidial cycles, which normally occurs at
approximately 14-16 days of age, depending on various factors including
litter moisture, bird density, environmental temperature, etc. It is also
important to allow vaccinated birds to remain in the brood chamber
for the duration of at least 2 complete coccidial cycles before allowing
them to occupy the entire barn. If vaccinated pullets are given to the
entire barn prior to the second cycle being completed, many of them
will not be properly immunized and might develop coccidiosis at a
later age, with the significant consequences of increased mortality,
delayed growth, poor uniformity and the need for treating the flock.
Specialty flocks may not be treated with drugs of any kind and thus it
is critical to ensure proper coccidiosis control with the use of vaccines.


Histomonas meleagridis (HM) is the causative agent of histomoniasis
(“black head”) and almost exclusively affects pullets reared on the floor,
particularly in premises with dirt floors. The condition, which can be
devastating, has made a comeback after the ban of many anti-parasitic
drugs and is difficult to control since there are no drugs that can be
used legally in many areas of the world. Because the microscopic
parasite depends to some extent on the life cycle of cecal worms and
earthworms, one of the strategies for control involves the control of
worms. Early administration of drugs against round worms might
contribute to maintain HM under control. The layer industry most
commonly uses piperazine and anti-worm compounds from the family
of the benzimidazole drugs such as levamizole or albendazole.
Controlling worms reduces the challenge posed by HM. Where legal,
HM infection may be treated with drugs such as nitarsone, but even
this drug is only partially effective. Control of HM involves not only
treating birds against worms, but also proper cleaning and disinfection,
adequate husbandry, and proper coccidosis control, particularly of E.

Product Guide bovans.com 43

The best form of prevention for mite infestation is biosecurity. Infested
flocks should never be visited before visiting mite- free flocks. Mites
can be mechanically carried from farm to farm in clothes, footwear, on
people, equipment, egg boxes, etc. Such parasites usually thrive in
sexually mature flocks and thus most treatments become necessary
while the infested flocks are in production. Effective control requires
direct application of “acaricide” products. A variety of products can be
used for mite control, including pyrethroids, organophosphates,
carbamates, mineral-based products, vegetable oils, citrus concentrated
extracts and other products. Some of these products can be administered
by dry (dust) spray, or as a wet spray. Prior to using any of these products
it is critical to determine whether they are approved for use in hens in
production, and also whether the personnel applying the products
requires personal protective equipment.
Some products are less effective if applied dry but quite effective when
applied wet directly on the birds, which requires considerable more
time than the application of dry products. Treating birds against mites
is frequently expensive and it may be necessary to treat an infested
flock more than once. After the affected flock is removed, thorough
cleaning and disinfection and chemical treatment of the premises and
equipment is necessary. The best approach is to exercise adequate
biosecurity and never to transit from infested flocks to clean flocks, or
to share equipment and egg boxes between infested and clean


Infectious diseases can be grouped by the organ system they affect.
Thus, infectious diseases can affect the respiratory, digestive, nervous,
urinary, reproductive and immune systems among others. Other diseases
tend to affect the integument (skin or cutaneous tissues) and yet some
others are considered a concern for food safety.

Respiratory diseases of major concern in commercial layers include
Newcastle disease, infectious bronchitis, avian influenza, avian
metapneumovirus infection (swollen head syndrome), avian
mycoplasmosis (MG and MS), infectious coryza, avian pasteurellosis
(fowl cholera) and Gallibacterium anatis infection. All such diseases or
disease agents can be prevented or controlled by using a combination
of biosecurity and vaccination. In general, vaccination against respiratory
viruses is done with live vaccines followed by killed (inactivated) vaccines.
Live attenuated avian influenza vaccines are not available, but
recombinant vaccines and killed vaccines are.

Bacterial diseases (infectious coryza, fowl cholera and Gallibacterium
infection) are typically prevented by means of inactivated (killed)
vaccines or bacterins, which are given once or twice during the rearing
period. Bacterins are usually administered by intramuscular or
subcutaneous injection at approximately 10-14 weeks of age. Live
vaccines against viral respiratory diseases may be administered by
spray or in the drinking water once or multiple times while the flocks
are in production.

Peritonitis in layers is frequently caused by E. coli strains that are unrelated
to the E. coli strains which affect cattle or humans. However, they can
induce severe economic losses if there is no adequate control.
Colibacillosis associated with peritonitis in layers is not strictly a
respiratory condition, but E. coli can penetrate via the respiratory tract
(descending infection).
E. coli can also penetrate via an ascending route (via the reproductive
tract), or possibly from the intestinal tract, a mechanism that has not
yet been confirmed. Peritonitis in layers should be controlled by a
variety of approaches, including maintaining proper husbandry
practices, adequate ventilation, and vaccination against E. coli among
other strategies. Vaccination against E. coli in layers is a very effective
method of control and is commonly done by using live vaccines by
spray or in the drinking water twice during rearing, once at hatch and
once a few weeks later. Live E. coli vaccines can also be given safely to
flocks in production or close to the onset of production, if they were
not vaccinated during rearing.


Diseases of the digestive system that are preventable by vaccination
include the parasitic disease coccidiosis. Coccidiosis vaccines are typically
administered at the hatchery in ovo or by spray, or by spray on the feed
during the first week of life.


Diseases affecting the nervous system such as avian encephalomyelitis
(AE) require effective vaccination for prevention. Flocks may be
vaccinated via the drinking water or by transcutaneous injection in the
wing web, usually along with POX vaccination at approximately 10-12
weeks of age. AE vaccines should not be given for the first time before
10 weeks of age or too soon before the flock initiates egg production
because they can induce disease or drops in egg production.

Product Guide bovans.com 45

Diseases affecting the urinary and reproductive tracts are represented
typically by infectious bronchitis. Prevention of infectious bronchitis
requires vaccination at various ages with the same or similar serotypes
of virus circulating in the field. It may be necessary to vaccinate the
pullets 3-4 times with live viruses during rearing, and once with a killed
vaccine containing at least the same or similar serotypes circulating in
the field. Still, in many instances it might be necessary to vaccinate
flocks in production by spray several times in order to maintain a healthy
urinary, respiratory and reproductive tract.


Diseases affecting the immune system can be numerous. Well-known
diseases affecting the immune system include infectious bursal disease
(IBDV, or Gumboro disease), chicken infectious anemia (CIAV), and
Marek’s disease (MDV), the latter being a disease that also causes tumors
and mortality. IBDV can be prevented by vaccination with live attenuated
vaccines, immune complex vaccines, or recombinant vaccines. Live
attenuated vaccines are becoming less popular because of the frequent
need to give them multiple times in order to control IBDV effectively
during the rearing period. Still, they have contributed very positively
to the effective control of IBDV in the field, particularly in floor rearing
operations. Live attenuated IBDV vaccines are given 3-4 times during
the first 8 weeks of age, beginning with an initial application at
approximately 14 days of age. It is not necessary to vaccinate commercial
layers against CIAV because they are only susceptible to this
immunosuppressive agent during the first 3 weeks of life, and the layer
parents should provide protection after being exposed and/or
vaccinated themselves. All layer pullets should be vaccinated against
MDV to prevent losses to mortality, immunosuppression and tumors.


Salmonella control requires a very complex approach, part of which
involves vaccination. Where legal, vaccination against Salmonella is
one of the most effective means of control and is usually done with
live attenuated or genetically modified vaccines against S. typhimurium,
followed by killed vaccines against S. enteritidis or containing other
Salmonella serovars that may be residents in a particular area or
operation. It is recommended to use two live Salmonella vaccines and
at least one killed vaccine containing SE and other serovars to reduce
the probability of infection in the field.
1) Lewis, P. D. 1996. The domestic hen's response to photoperiodic influences. Pages
737-745 in Proceedings of XXth World's Poultry Congress. Vol II. New Delhi, India.
2) Lewis, P. D., G. C. Perry, and T. R. Morris. 1997. Effect of size and timing of photoperiod
increase on age at first egg and subsequent performance on two breeds of laying hen.
Br. Poult. Sci. 38:142-150.
3) Morris, T. R., P. J. Sharp, and E. A. Butler. 1995. A test for photorefractoriness in high-
producing stocks of laying pullets. Br. Poult. Sci. 36:763-769.

1 mtr. =3,282 feet 1 foot =0,305 mtr.
1 sq. mtr. =10,76 sq. feet 1 sq. foot =0,093 sq. mtr.
1 cub. mtr. =35,316 cub. feet 1 cub. foot =0,028317 cub. m.
1 cm. =0,394 inches 1 inch =2,54 cm.
1 sq. cm. =0,155 sq. inch 1 sq. inch =6,45 sq.cm.
1 kg. =2,205 lbs. 1 lb. =0,454 kg.
1 g. =0,035 ozs. 1 oz. =28,35 g.
1 ltr. =0,22 gallons 1 gallon =4,54 ltr.

1 bird per square metre =10,76 square feet per bird

3 birds per square metre =3,59 square feet per bird
4 birds per square metre =2,69 square feet per bird
5 birds per square metre =2,15 square feet per bird
7 birds per square metre =1,54 square feet per bird
11 birds per square metre =0,98 square feet per bird
13 birds per square metre =0,83 square feet per bird

1 cubic meter/kilogram/hour =16,016 cubic feet/lb./hour

1 cubic foot/lb./hour =0,0624 cubic meter/kilogram/hour

F° =9/5 °C+32 °C =5/9 (°F-32)

45 °C =113 °F 22 °C =72 °F 10 °C =50 °F
40 °C =104 °F 20 °C =68 °F 8 °C =46 °F
35 °C =95 °F 18 °C =64 °F 6 °C =43 °F
30 °C =86 °F 16 °C =61 °F 4 °C =39 °F
27 °C =81 °F 14 °C =57 °F 2 °C =36 °F
24 °C =75 °F 12 °C =54 °F 0 °C =32 °F

1 Joule per second = 1 Watt = Volt x Ampere

1 KJ =1000J
1 MJ =1000KJ
1 MJ =239 Kcal
1 Kcal =4.2 KJ
1 KWh =3.6MJ - 860 Kcal
1 BTU =1055J

Warranty Disclaimer
This product guide for layers has been prepared by Institut de Sélection Animale B.V. and
its affiliates (“ISA”) with the greatest possible care and dedication to inform and assist ISA’s
customers on the various manners of production to improve their production results while
using ISA products. However, specific circumstances at the farm of the customer may
impact the usability and reliability of the statements and information mentioned in this
product guide. No implied or explicit guarantees are given by ISA as to the accuracy and
completeness of the provided information in this product guide. Applying the information
as stated in this product guide in the customers’ production environment remains a
decision of the customer, to be taken at its sole discretion. ISA will not be liable for any
losses or damages whatsoever, whether in contract, tort or otherwise arising from reliance
on information contained in this product guide.


Product Guide bovans.com 47

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