Prevent unnecessary losses in broiler production – part 1
by Given Hamanungu – Senior Technical Advisor at Tiger Feeds
Broiler chicks are very frail, especially during the first few weeks of their lives. It is therefore important to have sound management knowledge to keep them healthy.
Moreover, despite the quality chicks supplied by the hatchery and the efficiency of management, early chick mortalities cannot be avoided entirely on a poultry farm. However, anything higher than 5% should be taken seriously. A high mortality rate is an indication of something wrong with the birds, and it demands the poultry farmer’s immediate intervention and appropriate action to stop further losses as failure to do so may lead to unnecessary losses.
The following are simple and common instructions that are often being overlooked by broiler farmers:
Biosecurity refers to management protocols to prevent the introduction and spread of disease/sickness onto a farm or flock. It is an integral management component of any poultry farm.
Strong biosecurity management includes:
- Control entry of rodents, insects and wild animals.
- Continuously cleaning and drying all equipment.
- Ensuring at least 14 days downtime, full pen clean-outs and pen sanitisation between batches.
- Minimising the number of people visiting the pen/farm.
- Ensuring workers have clean uniforms, wear appropriate footwear.
- When entering chicken pen, workers/visitors should wash and sanitise hands and boots.
Stocking density affects the following:
- Flock performance
- FCR (feed conversional ratio)
- Growth rate
- Litter quality
Optimal stocking density results in:
Maximum economic returns, however, they depend on the environmental conditions, bird management and ventilation capability. Overstocking increases the environmental pressures on broilers and will reduce performance. In general, stocking density should be reduced in hot climates and increased in cold climates. Stocking density determines the final processing weight – poor uniformity yields poor weight results.
Most farmers do not keep records and claim that they are not necessary. Record keeping assists in determining the effects of changes in the following:
- Health status
Accurate production records are essential for effective broiler management
The records should list the following:
- Daily feed intake
- Daily water consumption
- Weekly weight sampling
- Medication usage
- Temperature readings
A sudden change in feed or water intake can often indicate some form of stress factor, disease, or other management issues. Records should provide a history so that problems can be quickly and easily detected. The more accurate records the farmer keeps, the better he will be able to monitor the performance of each flock.
Six golden rules in broiler-keeping that should not be overlooked
- Do not use substandard equipment like drinkers, feeders, et cetera, as they increase spillage that leads to huge losses.
- Take time to observe birds’ behaviour and movement activities in the pen. This will enable you to notice abnormal behaviour.
- Use of charcoal during brooding increases carbon monoxide pollution in the pen, therefore it is important to improve the ventilation system to avoid metabolic disorders such as ascites and flip-overs.
- Ignorance is no defence, lack of knowledge on how to use antibiotics is dangerous and costly. Do not use antibiotics without consultation.
- Use of cheap and unexperienced manpower is more costly than is thought.
- Online supervision does not work in livestock farming. The decision-maker (farmer) should be at the production site at all costs.
Act to serve your business, listen to professional advice to live longer in business.
Contact Given at +260-97-540- 3834, +260-96-793-3658 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.