By Talha Garewal, Muhammad Bakhsh
Broilers are reared for protein production due to their fast-growing ability. These birds gain an average weight of 2-2.5 kg in a time frame of 36 days under standard protocols.
Broilers are reared for protein production due to their fast-growing ability. These birds gain an average weight of 2-2.5 kg in a time frame of 36 days under standard protocols. More than 30 billion broiler chicks are produced worldwide on annual basis. Broiler is more susceptible to pathogenic diseases, environmental stress etc. Stress in the early stage of growth period effects the final body weight. Farmers must be adoptive parents of birds to have better production. Tender loving care to chickens has been replaced with mass production mentality. To take care huge number of birds at a time there must be proper execution of plans. So this article deals with management practices necessary for broiler production at farm level.
The most important and emphasizing aspect of broiler production is biosecurity. It prevents your flock exposure to unwanted pathogenic stresses and their cost of treatment to the farmer. Unauthorized person must be strictly prohibited to visit farm unnecessarily. If a farm needs to be visited there must be complete change of clothing and or taking showers before entry is strongly recommended. Care must be exercised in visiting farms in proper order. If you visit number of farms a day so common sense also dictates that diseased farm should be visited at the last. Before chick placement farm should be disinfected with suitable detergent. No health, no gain should be an objective of broiler farmer. Foot dips must be installed with suitable detergents. To get in visitors should disinfect them through it. Vehicles entering in farm must be disinfected properly.
First 24 hours are most crucial part of chick’s life. From hatchery to farm travelling put stress on chicks. Farmer must inspect farm one day prior to chick’s placement. There are number of parameters that must be considered enlisted below:
The next most important factor under consideration should be clean fresh air rich in oxygen supply. Chicks trachea is normally irritating from being boxed and shipped in chick’s trays for many hours. Chicks have also been exposed to contaminated air and formaldehyde gas during hatch. So it is necessary to have fresh air to chicks on arrival. Air must not be contaminated with ammonia and carbon monoxide. Poor ventilation may result in carbon monoxide accumulation in farm. CO bind irreversibly with the hemoglobin forming carboxyhemoglobin. Additional ventilation cannot reverse that loss. So it is an art of the supervisor to provide adequate supply of fresh air to newly hatched chicks. Minimal air movement near chick level must not be greater than 0.30m/s. Oxygen concentration must be greater than 19.6%, carbon dioxide less than 0.3% in farm. To maintain proper ventilation in farm timer fans used which provide an adequate air exchange capability of approximately 12.5%. Ventilation timer setting 5min with respect to broiler age has been enlisted in the table below:
Fan on /sec
Fan off /sec
Broilers have very short growth period. About one half of their life cycle they have immature thermo regulatory system. They cannot regulate their body temperature. It is mandatory to maintain environmental temperature for efficient growth of broiler. Proper brooding is essential. Without an exception all the chicks should be provided an environmental temperature of 32-33 Celsius for the first 24h. Chicks with improper brooding shows depressed growth, increased mortality, high feed conversion etc. Extra effort during brooding phase will be rewarded in the final flock performance. Proper brooding guide has been shown in the picture below:
Chicks can withstand unavailability of water and feed for 100 hours because they obtain total nutrients from their yolk sac residues. It doesn’t mean that deprive them of basic necessities. There must be fresh water and feed available to the newly hatched chicks in first 8hours of their placement. But they should not be available with this before time period of 8 hours. Longer delays can put them in stress, shrinkage and dehydration. If there is a long route, then commercial hydrants can be placed in chick boxes. If chicks have been transported for a long period, then providing water for first 3-4 hours then feed is recommended. Many supervisors add some sort of sweetener sugar to the water (4% solution) for first few hours of life. Sugar replenish depleted energy in chicks. Prepare the intestine for the incoming feed. Contaminated water may spread disease to the flock. It is recommended to add vitamin supplements in water for first 3 days to enhance vitality of chicks. Drinking water must be chlorinated.
Close attention must be paid to the litter quality. Old caked litter must be replaced with fresh litter after each broiler cycle. If changing of litter is not possible then newspaper can be placed in brooding area. Chick must not be exposed to old litter to minimize exposure to pathogenic diseases due to immature immune status. Litter type, temperature, texture all can affect the survival of chick. Chick can lose excess of their body temperature in exposure to their legs in contact with litter. Thus bedding greatly affect the survival of chicks.
Chick Quality Assessment:
Must have bright, round and sharp eyes. Chick must look active and alert. Have completely healed navels. Legs should be bright and waxy to touch. Legs must be free of injuries; chick must be free from deformities.
Before chicks’ arrival farm must be inspected closely. Mismanagement in the early stage will result in huge returns in the final body weight of chicken. Each hour represents 0.1% of chick life. First 24 hours is 2.4%. If negligence is shown in any one of the paragraph designs above, it will reflect a tremendous financial loss at the farm level. Take care of chicks as you take care of yourself. I solemnly declare that they will pay you back.
Talha Garewal, Muhammad Bakhsh
University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, CVAS Jhang, Pakistan