Keeping chickens occupied results in glossy feathers
Published in the Danish agricultural magazine Effektivt Landbrug. Text and photo: Erik Kjærgaard Christensen
The poultry are crazy about it, says egg producer Bent Jensen enthusiastically. At his farm, which is located in Southern Jutland in Denmark, he uses Peckstone from Vilofoss in the layer and broiler sections.
“We phased out our cage egg production by the end of 2019 and have now switched 100% to producing barn eggs. This means the hens move around freely and, so, they need something to distract them,” says Bent Jensen, ”and Peckstone does the trick: it really supports the hens’ natural urge to peck,” he adds.
Benefiting animal welfare
”Clearly, this preoccupation material fully enhances animal welfare in our hens and chickens. We see that they do not peck so much at each other anymore which, in turn, means that their plumage stays healthy longer. Consequently, we are able to cut down on our other manipulable materials,” says Bent Jensen, who continues:
”The surface of Peckstone is similar to that of a stone. So, when the animals peck it, their beaks are automatically trimmed. This is an extra benefit, because the Danish egg sector decided to stop trimming beaks. We have opted for extra hard Peckstones, which consists of different key minerals.”
Pallets of 100 pieces
The egg producer has the Peckstones delivered to him on pallets with 100 pieces each. “They are easy to handle and distribute using a wheelbarrow. We use approx. 75 Peckstones every week, and costs amount to around 0.27 cents per year per hen,” says Bent Jensen, continuing: ”Peckstone fullfills all of the strict requirements that I, the egg producer, have to comply with. We have 100% confidence in the product, and I think it has a great potential.”
Available in three hardness grades
Peckstone is a preoccupation material developed by Vilofoss. The product resembles a stone and contains vital salts and minerals. Furthermore, Peckstone facilitates absorption of minerals such as magnesium, calcium and sodium, according to Vilofoss. Peckstone comes in three hardness grades adapted to the needs of a range of animal groups:
Medium, hard and extra hard
- Peckstone Medium (8 kg) is particularly ideal for chickens and broilers fattened for a short period.
- Peckstone Hard (10 kg) is ideal for pullets, layers, broilers fattened over a long period, and turkeys.
- Peckstone Extra Hard (10 kg) is suitable for layers, parent stock and turkeys.
The preoccupation material is also useful in organic farming. Vilofoss recommends one Peckstone per 500-800 animals.