Poultry Management Guide

Poultry management usually refers to the husbandry practices or production techniques that help to maximize the efficiency of production. Sound management practices are very essential to optimize production. Scientific poultry management aims at maximizing returns with minimum investment.

Brooder Management

Brooder house: Brooderhouseshouldbedraft-free,rain-proof, and protected against predators. Brooding pens should have windows with wire mesh for adequate ventilation. Too dusty environment irritates the respiratory tract of the chicks. Besides dust is one of the agents of transmission of diseases. Too much moisture causes ammonia fumes which irritate the respiratory tract and eyes. Good ventilation provides a comfortable environment without a draft.

Poultry management
Poultry management

Sanitation and hygiene: All movable equipment like feeders, waters, and hovers should be removed from the house, cleaned, and disinfected. All litters are to be scraped and removed.

The interior, as well as the exterior of the house, should be cleaned under pressure. The house should be disinfected with any commercial disinfectant solution at the recommended concentration.

The insecticide should be sprayed to avoid insect threat Malathion spray/blow lamping or both can be used to control ticks and mites. New litter should be spread after each cleaning.

The insecticides if necessary should be mixed with litter at recommended doses. Poultry diseases arc highly contagious. All-in-all- out system helps in the control and prevention of diseases. If this is not possible the chicks should be allowed to brood in the neighborhood of older birds.

The movement of workers and equipment from building to the building should be restricted. Attendants should change to clean over-all and shoes when possible. A foot-bath of a recommended disinfectant should be kept at the entrance of each building. The disinfectant solution should be used regularly as instructed. Visitors to the farm should be restricted.

Poultry Housing
Poultry Housing

Litter: Suitable litter material like sawdust and paddy husk should be spread to a length of 5 cm depending upon their availability and cost. Moldy material should not be used. The litter should be stirred at frequent. intervals to. prevent caking. Wet litters if any should be removed immediately and replaced by dry new litter. This prevents ammoniacal odor.

Brooding temperature: Heating is very much essential to provide the right temperature in the brooder house. Too high or too low a temperature slows down growth and causes mortality.

During the first week, the temperature should be 95 deg F (35 deg C) which may be reduced by per week during each successive week till 70 deg F (21.1 deg C). The brooder should be switched on for at least 24 hours before the chicks arrive. As a rule of thumb, the temperature inside the brooder house should be approximately 20 deg F (-6.7 deg C) below the brooder temperature.

Hanging of a maximum and minimum thermometer in each house is recommended to have a guide to control the differences in the house temperature. The behavior of chicks provides a better indication of whether they are getting the desired amount of heat.

When the temperature is less than required, the chicks try to get closer to the source of heat and huddle down under the brooder. When the temperature is too high, the chicks will get away from the source of heat and may even pant or gasp.

When the temperature is right, the chicks will be found evenly scattered. In hot weather, brooders are not necessary after the chicks are about 3 weeks old. Several devices can be used for providing artificial heat. Hover type electric brooders are by far the most common and practical these days.

Brooding temperature
Brooding temperature

The temperature in these brooders is thermostatically controlled. Many times the heat in the brooder house is provided by the use of electric bulbs of different intensities. Regulation of temperature in such cases is difficult although not impossible. Infrared lamps are also very good for brooding. The height and number of infra-red lamps can be adjusted as per temperature requirements in the brooder house.

Brooder space: Brooder space of 7 to 10 sq inches (45-6.5 cm sq)is recommended per chick. Thus a 1.80 m hover can hold 500 chicks. When small pens are used for brooding, the dimension of the house must be taken into consideration as overcrowding results in starve-outs, culls, and an increase in disease problems.

Brooder guard: To prevent the straying of baby chicks from the source of heat, hover guards are placed 1.05 to 1.50 m from the edge of hover. Hover guard is not necessary after 1 week.

Floor space: Floor space of 0.05m sq should be provided per chick to start with, which should be increased by 0.05 m sq after every 4 weeks until the pullets are about 20 weeks of age. For broilers at least 0.1 m sq of floor space for female chicks and 0.15 m sq for male chicks should be provided till 8 weeks of age. Raising broiler pullets and cockerel chicks in the separate pens may be beneficial.

Water space: Plentiful clean and freshwater are very much essential. A provision of 50 linear cm of water space per 100 chicks for the first two weeks has to be increased to 152-190 linear cm at 6 to 8 weeks.

When changing from chick fountain to water trough the fountains are to be left in for several days till the chicks have located the new water source. The height of the waterers should be maintained at 2-5 cm above the back height of the chicks to reduce spoilage. Antibiotics or other stress medications may be added to water if desired. All waterers should be cleaned daily. It may be desirable to hold a few chicks one at a lime and teach them to drink.

Feeder space: The requirement of feeder space varies from 2.5 to 0.3 cm per bird from 0 to 8 weeks of age. Chicks should be fed only after 3 to 4 hours after arrival in the brooder house. To avoid feed loss feeders should not be more than one-third full at any particular time.

The brooding equipment should be spaced around the hover like the spokes of a wheel to offer all chicks equal opportunity for warmth, feed, and water. Sound management practices and practical and judicious use of medicines are essential to tackle disease hazards.

Stress medication like nitrofurazone and coccidiostats may be given in the feed as and when necessary as per recommended doses and courses. All night light with uniform distribution of light is essential up to 8 weeks of age.

For broilers, all night light is essential for the first 2 days to allow them to find their way and to get organized. It also helps poultrymen to observe the chicks in their new home. The lighting program for the rest of the period in broilers varies considerably from farm to farm. Many prefer light followed by the darkness of different durations to allow maximum weight gain.

Grower Management

Floor, feeder, and water space recommended for a grower arc 950 to 2350 cm sq, 7.5 to 12-5 cm, and 2.0 to 2.5 cm respectively. Water consumption is influenced by temperature, humidity, age, dietary constituents, activity, and air movement.

Water consumption increases rapidly when the temperature exceeds 85°F (29.4°C).

Deworming is very much essential at least once bi-monthly to keep the birds free from parasitic diseases. Deworming should be done either in the evening or early in the morning. If necessary top 0.6 cm of litter is scraped and removed to prevent reinfection.

A decreasing lighting schedule needs to be followed for the growers until 20 weeks of age. Growing pullets should never be exposed to an increased lighting schedule. Debeaking is recommended between 12 and 16 weeks although it can be done earlier depending upon convenience.

For broiler breeders feed restriction is very much essential during the growing period to control body weight and maturity. Improper restriction results in increased feed costs, reduced egg production, and hatchability.

Layer Management

The flock should be transferred from grower to layer house at 18 to 20 weeks of age. Inbreeding flocks, males should be placed in the laying quarters 1 to 2 days prior to housing the females if they have been grown separately to housing time.

Floor space of 0.23 to 0.28 m sq feeder space of 10 cm and water space of 2.5 cm per bird is recommended in the floor house. For commercial cage operation, the floor requirement is 465 cm sq per bird. One laying nest for every 4 pullets is necessary. A platform in front of the nest entrance helps the birds to have easy access to the nest.

Layer Management
Layer Management

Lighting is very essential for optimum production. From 21 weeks onwards the lighting should be increased gradually till it reaches 16-17 hours per day and maintained at that level thereafter. Correct lighting boosts up egg production by 5 to 10%; Irregular light results in a drop in egg production. For correct light stimulation, a minimum of the one-foot candle of light should be provided at the bird’s-eye level.

One 40-watt bulb with a reflector hanged 2.1 m above the floor for each 9.29 m sq of floor space would provide the recommended intensity of light. Light bulbs should be cleaned regularly as very dusty bulbs would give only 1/3 light compared with that given by clean bulbs. Light bulbs should be checked regularly and burnt out ones should be replaced immediately. The duration of the light period should not be decreased during the laying period.

Male Management

Breeder male management remains essentially the same as that of layer management except that male breeder’s diet should be fortified with extra calcium, manganese, and vitamin E to ensure proper fertility.

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