Brooding –the remaining critical aspects
Our brooding series would not be complete without mention of the remaining 3 from the 5 essentials for good chick brooding practices. These are access to feed, clean water and high light intensity.
Access to Feed
Feed is assumed to be a given requirement since one will be rearing broilers for growth. Unfortunately common sense is not always common, and certainly I have seen broiler sheds with inadequate or inaccessible feed. Access to feed means the following and is a critical aspect to ensure farmers achieve good results:
- Use of good quality feed that has been manufactured specifically for broilers. Capital Foods feed is manufactured to ensure that birds at all stages of life get adequate nutrition for their healthy growth and development.
- Provide adequate feeding space for the number of birds being reared. Feeder ratio to birds for the plastic ones is recommended as 30 birds to a feeder to ensure they have adequate access to the available feeding space. One can also work with 3 feeders per 100 birds. The bird must not walk more than 2 metres without finding feeding space; the more available this is the better the growth as the bird will not use energy to find feed.
- Using the correct type of feed for the age of the bird-Capital Foods use a 3 phase ration that is split as follows
- Starter meal/crumbles from day of placing (day zero) up to day 14. Each bird will consume 455 grams of feed in this period.
- Grower crumbles/pellets from day 15 up to day 25. Each bird will consume 1.1kg feed during this period.
- Finisher meal/pellets from day 26 to slaughter age. Each bird will eat 1.7kg feed during this period. The ideal slaughter age is 35 days (5 weeks) to avoid feed wastage and losses; this is also determined by the way farmers rear their flocks and target weights for their customers.
When farmers are moving from one feed form to the next it is important to introduce this in phases and mixed with the old feed. This can be done over at least 3 days, and going from 1:4 until it gets to the full ration being the new feed.
- Ensuring correct placement of feeding equipment to ensure the birds are able to reach this and not have to jump to get to feed. The recommended height is the lip of the feeder must be at the same level as the back of the bird at any age. Feeders must never be kept at a level lower than this to help reduce feed wastage and also encourage birds to eat in a standing upright position. Feeders are raised as the birds grow in order to meet this standard.
- Cleaning feeding equipment, farmers must ensure there is no mouldy feed, no droppings within the feeders as birds will avoid eating the feed is dirty. Cleaning the feeder equipment must be done daily, using cloths/sack during rear to avoid wetting the feed.
- When chicks are starting out, we recommend using newsprint/khaki paper or sacks on the floor to increase the feeding area by at least 75%. This will allow chicks to familiarise with feed and avoid eating the finer pieces from the bedding and in particular sawdust. Fresh feed must be added on the papers to ensure it remains attractive for the chicks. The feeding is done using small quantities, frequently to tempt the birds to keep feeding.
Water is an important part of the bird’s body making up approximately 75% of the bird. This means any lack of water is very detrimental to the bird as it affects its health directly. It is particularly critical for the chick as it loses water rapidly and gets dehydrated easily if there is no water.
Failure to provide clean drinking water will result in poor growth. Water is required by bacteria for growth, and forms one of the 3 main essentials among time, food and moisture for all kinds of bacterial growth. When drinkers are left un-cleaned the bacteria will grow as they would have had an ideal environment created for them. The slime that one feels when they check the drinkers is rich in bacteria that can cause diseases in the birds. One of the most critical duties for the farmer is cleaning the drinkers on a daily and if possible twice or three times a day, depending on how much the birds are drinking their water. Never leave droppings in the drinker as they will have contaminated this and the birds will not thrive when drinking dirty water.
The feed eaten can only be digested once it has been moved from the crop to the stomach and intestines. Water is essential for this process. Farmers must ensure that clean water is available at all times as this will ensure the birds can eat more feed.
When chicks arrive from the hatchery it is also important to ensure the water is already within the brooding area. Chick founts and drinkers or nipple lines must be in place, ready for the birds to access. Nipple lines need to be dropped to the level of the chick which will drink while standing without having to jump for the water. The ratio of birds to the drinkers is recommended at 3 per 100 for the manual drinkers as well as bell drinkers; 12-15 birds per nipple for the nipple line water system.
Some farmers place chick founts only without the feed in the brooding area-this practice is not recommended. Allow the chick to select whether it wants feed only or will go for both feed and water. The ideal is that the chick accesses both feed and water which is counted as having eaten when we check on this at 24 hours after placing (crop fill must be at least 95% at this point). The texture of the mixture must be soft, porridgey not hard, indicating that the chick has had access to both feed and water early.
Regular flushing of water is recommended to ensure fresh clean water is in use and during summer to help cool the water so it is drinkable. The drinkers in the brooding area must only be placed the morning that birds are received to avoid giving hot water to the birds.
When feed is withdrawn during the periods of lighting management, water must never be removed. Usually when birds have understood that feed will be withdrawn at a specific time, they will crop up, eating to fill their crops before they rest. They will need water to ensure the feed eaten is transported from one end to the next for digestion. Never leave an empty drinker in the shed; they must always have clean drinking water.
The final requirement for good brooding is the light intensity that is found in the birds’ shed. Most farmers make the mistake of thinking that the infra-red light is sufficient for both heat provision and lighting the shed for the birds to see where their feed and water are. The recommended light intensity for broilers is given as 20 lux. As a rule of thumb, one must be able to see clearly to read when they are in the shed. This light must be provided separately from that coming with the Infra-red light.
The first week is particularly critical for this to ensure chicks are able to see where their feed and water are located. The recommended programme for our feeds is given below:
Day 0- :24 hours light, keep lights on all the time for the day when chicks are placed in their brooding area.
Day 1-7:23 hours light. In this case the farmer will switch off for an hour daily at the same time.
Light intensity has been found to help with the broiler’s development so farmers need to ensure that this is available as recommended. In the first week we are looking to encourage bird activity and the light will ensure this happens so that the birds actively seek feed and water for growth purposes.
Attention to detail remains one of my recommendations for all broiler farmers. This has served many farmers well as they have attained the required target weights at 35 days and smiled all the way to the bank. None of these aspects is bigger or more important than the other; they all serve critical purposes for the chicks’ development and will make or break your project.
To wrap up the five critical aspects are temperature management, provision of ventilation and fresh air supply, access to feed, provision of clean drinking water and finally providing the recommended high light intensity. The first week is critical as it is the period when the highest growth of the chick is possible. This is therefore our chance to start strong and ensure we reap the best from the birds as they grow to day 35.
Contact a Capital Foods customer support person on +263 772 133 272/4 or firstname.lastname@example.org