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MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR BROILER CHICKENS AND LAYERS Prof R.K. Sharma Department of Livestock Production and Management

Poultry production :

Poultry production the fastest growing sub-sector of Indian agriculture quantum jump both in respect of poultry population and productivity Good management practices can further improve productivity and profitability of poultry industry.

Management of broiler chickens:

Management of broiler chickens Broiler production is quite different from its counterpart egg production in respect of : birds nutritional requirements, housing requirements, processing and marketing of final products etc . However, the basic principles of poultry production management are similar.

Some of the requirements for efficient broiler production are discussed below::

Some of the requirements for efficient broiler production are discussed below: Housing commercial broiler production, the bird spends its whole life in one house that is; they are not brooded in a special brooder house and then moved to another house for growing Broiler raising is basically a brooding operation There are different styles and designs of houses but the most important point is that broiler houses should provide Comfort Safety,Security and protection from environment,predators,etc Convenience of operation and houses should be economic.

Some important points to be considered regarding broiler house:

Some important points to be considered regarding broiler house Provisions should be made to modify the air circulation as the birds grow, and the fresh air should be circulated but the house should be free from direct drafts. The broiler house should be located in such a way that it should be readily accessible to power, water supply and sewage. Ground elevation should be higher than surrounding ground level to permit good water drainage from the buildings. There should be a road connection from the houses to the highway.

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Houses should be economical, yet substantial enough to last many years with a minimum of maintenance. Houses should be in the East-West direction lengthwise. About 1-1½ sq ft of floor space should be provided per bird up to 6 weeks of age. The width of house should not exceed more than 30-35 ft and may be of sufficient length for the desired bird capacity. Houses should have concrete floor.

ii. Litter:

ii. Litter Broilers are generally reared on deep litter system. The floor of the house is covered with litter material such as saw dust, rice husk, wheat straw, wood shavings, dried leaves etc. Litter is used for the purpose of keeping birds clean and comfortable . It absorbs moisture from the droppings and then gives this moisture to the air brought in by ventilation The litter should be free from mould, injurious materials and reasonably free from dust. Cover the litter with paper for first few days so that chicks may not eat the litter material

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Litter should be kept in good dry condition by stirring and turning at frequent intervals. Remove wet litter if any and add fresh litter material. Initially, the depth of litter should be about 2-3 inches and if required, it can be increased by adding 1-2 inches of fresh litter after 3-4 weeks. Use fresh litter for every new batch of chicks.

iii. Temperature:

iii. Temperature Maintenance of proper temperature is very important. During first week, the temp. should be 95F at the outer edge of the brooder. The temp. is reduced by 5F every week until 70F is reached. For best feed efficiency with good growth, a room temp. of 75F is recommended. For providing heat to the chicks, electrical brooders and gas brooders are most commonly used. Brooder guards should be used to keep the chicks confined to the brooding area. Brooder guards made up of cardboard or iron sheets about 12-15 inches high may be used in winter not only to confine the chicks but also to help in preventing floor drafts. Poultry nettings may be used to replace card boards for summers brooding. Avoid temp. below 80F during the first 2 weeks and over 85F after 4 weeks. Temp. fluctuation should be watched carefully especially when trying to brood the chicks without heat in warm weather.

iv. Ventilation:

iv. Ventilation The main function of ventilation is to maintain oxygen, keep carbon dioxide level low, remove moisture and ammonia from the building and maintain suitable temperatures. Air movement requirements are best determined by observing comfort of the birds, litter condition and odour build up. Poor ventilation results in accumulation of ammonia and leads to wet litter problems. Ammonia fumes from wet litter and droppings may give obnoxious odour and may retard the growth of chicks. Wet litter may lead to outbreak of diseases. Proper ventilation requires considerable management, because of large variations in the exterior temp. from time to time and increasing requirements of birds as they grow. During first week, excessive ventilation should be avoided. A rapid rate of air change at this time is neither necessary nor desirable as there is danger of chilling.

v. Relative Humidity :

v. Relative Humidity Optimum humidity levels reduce dust, and promote better feathering and growth. A relative humidity of 50-60% is optimum. High humidity creates the problem of wet litter while very low humidity may cause dusty litter resulting in respiratory trouble and poor feathering. When very dry and dusty conditions prevail during summer, it may be advantageous to spray with a fine mist using fogging nozzles to bring relative humidity to desirable level.

vi. Light:

vi. Light Lights are used to encourage feed consumption and optimum growth, and to prevent chicks from piling or stampeding when scared. It may be desirable to provide 24 hours of light daily for first 2-3 weeks during brooding period. This helps to prevent pile-ups. After this period, 23 hours light programme is recommended. A 60 watt bulb is sufficient for 200 sq. ft. area. Light should be uniformly distributed in the poultry shed.

vii. Feeding:

vii. Feeding Since feed constitutes about 65-70% of the total cost, it is important to give special attention to it. Broiler birds are fed with two types of ration i.e. broiler starter and broiler finisher Former ration is fed up to 4 weeks of age and later can be continued till the marketing age. Broiler starter ration should have 23% crude protein and 2800 kcal ME/ kg while finisher ration should have 20% crude protein and 2900 kcal ME/ kg. Besides protein and energy levels, ration should have adequate amount of various amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

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For first 3-4 days, feed may be provided on the paper or flat plates. This allows the chicks to find feed easily. Feed should also be provided in the chick feeders at the same time so that the chicks learn to eat from the feeders too. Linear feeders as well as hanging circular type feeders can be used. Provide adequate feeder space and the feeders should be uniformly distributed in the house. For linear feeders, provide 2 inch feeder space per bird up to 3 weeks of age and later on provide 3 inch feeder space per bird. When circular type feeders are used, about 25% less feeder space as compared to linear feeders, will be enough. Lips of the chick feeders should be about 2 inch in height from the level of the litter so that chicks can easily reach up to the feed. Use bigger feeders as the chicks grow. Height of the feeders should be up to the back of bird

viii. Waterers:

viii. Waterers It is important that broiler birds have an adequate supply of fresh and clean water. Watering devices should keep the water clean, could be easily cleaned and prevent spillage of water from the containers. Use small chick waterers for first 2 week and replace these by bigger waterers as the chicks grow. Provide sufficient waterer space i.e. ½ inch per bird for up to about 2 weeks of age and later on about 1-1½ inch per bird. Waterers should be uniformly distributed in the poultry shed. All waterers should be cleaned and washed daily.

ix. Prevention and control of disease:

ix. Prevention and control of disease Vaccinate the chicks against various diseases (Marek’s disease, Ranikhet disease and Gumboro disease) as per schedule. Keep the litter in good and dry condition. Use effective drugs in feed or water for prevention and control of diseases. Provide clean water and well balanced ration to the birds. Feeders and waterers should be cleaned regularly. Clean and disinfect the houses thoroughly for every new batch of chicks.

x. Catching and transport of broilers for marketing:

x. Catching and transport of broilers for marketing Broilers are generally marketed when they are about 5-6 weeks of age. Marketing involves moving the birds from the house in which they are produced to the consumer’s house/processing plants. Improper handling of broilers while catching and during transport may result in excess bruises, lowered quality and deaths. To minimize such losses, catching and loading work should be performed by experienced attendants, working under dim lights, corralling them in small groups and grasping them by shanks with not more than 4-5 birds carried at a time. Remove feeding and watering equipments before catching the birds so as to prevent bruises while catching. Protect the birds from extremes of climatic conditions during transport. In hot weather, birds should be transported during night and protect them against over heating during transit by using open crates and avoiding lengthy stops in route.

Basic broiler management tips:

Basic broiler management tips a. Preparations before the chicks are received Broiler house should be thoroughly cleaned, dried and disinfected at least a week before the chicks are to be received. Decide the number of brooders, feeders and waterers to be used depending on the number of chicks. All the equipments should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Spread litter material on the floor. The depth of litter should be about 2 inches in the beginning. Make sure that the litter material is free from wood pieces, glass pieces, nails, thread pieces etc. Cover the litter material with old news papers or waste papers (2-3 layers). Place brooders and arrange feeders and waterers properly. Heat in the brooders should be turned on about 12 hours before the arrival of chicks so that desired temperature is achieved.

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8. Initially the temp. under the brooder should be 95 F. The temp. is measured about 2 inch above the litter and at the outer edge of the brooder. b) Management after the chicks are received For first 3-4 days, feed may be spread on the paper or may be provided in flat trays. Along with this, feed should also be provided in chick feeders. Change the paper sheets immediately if they get wet. Remove the paper sheets after 5-6 days. During first week, feeders may be filled up to the brim thereafter feeders should never be filled more than two-third of the capacity. Feeders should be cleaned regularly. Scrub, clean and refill waterers daily with fresh and clean water. Wet spots underneath the waterers should be avoided. During first week, maintain about 950 F temp. under the brooder. Reduce the temp. by 50 F every week till it is about 70- 750 F. Ensure adequate ventilation in the brooder house, remove wet litter if any and replace it with dry litter

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7. As the chicks grow, smaller feeders and waterers should be replaced by the bigger ones. 8. Provide 24 hours of light daily during first 2-3 weeks and after that 23 hours light programme may be followed. 9. Vaccinate the chicks against various diseases as per schedule. 10. Provide adequate floor space and place sufficient number of feeders and waterers. Avoid overcrowding. 11. Brief trips may be made in the broiler house after every 3-4 hours to check the chicks. It should be ensured that feeders and waterers are kept filled and ventilation and temperatures are maintained at right levels. The dead chicks if any, should be removed immediately

Management of layer chickens:

Management of layer chickens i. Procurement of chicks The chicks should be procured from a reputed hatchery. Purchase only female chicks of egg type breeds for egg production. The chicks should be transported during day time in winter season and during night time in summer season. ii. Brooding The newly hatched chicks have little resistance to exposure to low temperature and hence artificial heat is provided until they can accommodate themselves to the conditions of prevailing season. During first week of age, 95F temp. is provided and after that 50F is reduced every week till it reaches to 70F. Brooding period depending upon prevailing environmental temp., may be reduced in summer (2-3 weeks) and increased in winter (4-6 weeks). One chick requires 7 sq. inch brooding space. Artificial brooding is done to rear thousands of chicks at a time for commercial poultry production.

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The types of brooding are: Floor brooding : The chicks are reared on floor after spreading litter. Litter should be organic in nature, fine in texture, light in weight, soft, cheaper, free from dust and less danger of fire. Litter is spread 5 cm deep in the beginning, increase the depth 5 cm every month till it reaches 15-20 cm. Floor heating devices are used for providing heat to the chicks. Battery brooding : Chicks are reared in battery. There is less space requirement, proper control of temperature, fewer disease problems, good supervision and no danger of rats etc. But the initial cost of battery is more and there is more problem of flies. Initial cost and operational cost of central heating systems are higher and these systems are generally adopted for large scale brooding.

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iii. Housing Layer house is more or less same as that of broiler house with slight modifications Systems Intensive system is used for commercial production of birds using fully or semi automatic systems in feeding, watering etc. The common types of the system are: deep litter system (keeping of birds on the floor after spreading litter) and battery / cage system. The advantages of cage system are: less space requirement, less disease problem, clean egg production, proper recording of individual bird’s performance and fewer dirty eggs. The disadvantages are: more initial cost, more problems of flies and mosquitoes, and stress due to confinement and during extreme weather.

iv. Requirements:

iv. Requirements a. Floor space Optimum floor space should be provided to the birds for better production performance. It depends upon the system of housing, type of floor, temperature, size of the bird etc. Over crowding results in poor growth, lower egg production, poor feed conversion, feather picking and cannibalism. 0.5 sq. ft. of floor space is sufficient for chicks up to 4 weeks of age. It should be increased after every 4 weeks until it reaches to 3.0 sq. ft. In cage / battery, about 1/3rd space is provided

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b. Temperature Birds should be kept comfortable by protecting them from extreme cold and hot environments. The optimum temperature of a house should be 55-70F except during brooding period. Feathers of birds work as insulator against cold weather. Higher temperature is more harmful than low temperature. However, low temperature results in high mortality in chicks. c. Humidity The relative humidity in the laying house should be 40 to 70% so as to keep the litter in better condition. High temperature along with high humidity is more harmful. Dampness results in wet litter, soiled plumage, breast blisters, dirty eggs, more disease problems and more ammonia production. More dryness due to low humidity results in dusty litter, eye troubles, respiratory disorders, poor feather growth, feather picking and cannibalism.

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d. Ventilation Since the fowl is a small animal with a rapid metabolism, thus, its air requirement per unit of body size is higher than other animals. Good ventilation in poultry house is necessary to provide plenty of fresh air to reduce the humidity as well as to keep the litter dry. e. Light The light requirement (per day) for different age groups of birds is: 24 hours during 0-8 weeks, 12 hours during 8-18 weeks and 14-16 hours for the hens more than 18 weeks of age. Intensity of light should be 0.25 watt per sq. ft. floor area. It should be uniformly distributed

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v. Control of seasonal stress a . Winter season During winter season, ventilation rate should be reduced but removal of CO2 and ammonia must be maintained. Energy contents in the ration should be increased. There should be provision of warm drinking water to the birds if possible. Curtains should be hanged over the windows (lower half to 2/3 portion) if required. b. Summer season During summer, temperature is higher but humidity is less. The relative humidity should be increased in order to provide cooling. Effective measures to control heat stress are: green plantation in the surrounding areas, sprinkling of water in surrounding areas, hanging of moist curtains on the windows, use of foggers or coolers, provide cold water by using earthen pots, insulation of poultry house, use low energy feed and use anti-stress agents in the feed/water.

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c. Rainy season During rainy season, both temperature and humidity are more. The relative humidity should be reduced in order to provide comfort to the birds. Effective measures are: check leakage of water from roof and waterers, prevent entry of rain water from the sides of shed, provide cool water in earthen pots, provide low calorie feed, ensure proper cross-ventilation, use exhaust fans, keep the litter dry and remove wet litter and use anti-stress agent in the feed/water

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Management of layer birds a. Before brooding Clean and prepare the brooder house. Spread 2 inches deep litter on the floor 3 days in advance. The heating system should be turned on 12 hours in advance. The feeders and waterer should be cleaned and arranged in advance. Initially temperature should be adjusted at 95oF. Brooder guard should be placed at a distance of 30 to 40 cm from the brooder. Increase the distance 5-10 cm everyday.

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b. During brooding Chicks should be vaccinated against Marek’s and Ranikhet (F1) disease before placing them under brooder. Brooder guard should be used during first week. Use antibiotics and B-complex in drinking water during first week. Reduce 5F temperature every week until it reaches to 70F. Feeders should be cleaned regularly. Spread feed on paper sheet for first 2-3 days. Floor, water and feeder space should be provided adequately. After one week, waterers should be placed on wire platform. Clean and fresh water should be provided daily. The brooder should be cleaned daily. 24 hours light should be provided to the chicks. Wet litter (if any) should be removed frequently. Chicks should be debeaked at about 2 weeks of age

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c. During growing period Weak pullets and cockerels should be removed as early as possible. Adequate floor, feeder and water space should be provided. 12 hours light per day is sufficient. Balanced feed should be provided. Keep feeders less than half filled to avoid feed wastage. Litter should be kept dry. Birds should be protected from extreme cold and hot climate. Nests should be placed at least one month before the start of lay. Deworming should be done regularly. Proper hygienic conditions should be maintained in the poultry shed.

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d. During laying period 14-16 hrs light per day should be provided for getting optimum production. Optimum floor space, feeder space and waterer space should be provided. Litter should be kept dry. If required, use hydrated lime to reduce dampness. Wet litter should be removed regularly. Racking should be done regularly. Weak, non-layers and poor layers should be culled regularly. Eggs should be collected 3 to 4 times daily and placed in filler flats having hole below. During storage, temperature should be 50-55F and relative humidity 75-80 per cent. Birds should be protected from extreme hot and cold climate. Proper hygienic condition should be maintained in the shed. Deworming should be done at monthly interval to control internal parasites. If there is problem of ticks and lice, then dusting or spraying should be done to control the external parasites. Clean and fresh water should be provided daily. For extra calcium requirement of layers, separate feeder having feed grit/ oyster shell should be placed. Height of feeder should be adjusted according to the height of birds.

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Thank you

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