Efficient Pullet Rearing Management

Poultry farmers are still having a hard time smiling to the banks despite the increased productivity of most breeds because of poor understanding of sound management practices, especially feeding due to:

  1.  Variation in raw material quality;
  2. Use of low quality ingredients under price pressure;
  3. Environmental variations which makes optimum production in every flock is a challenge.

The following factors must be considered by poultry farmers for successful rearing management:

QUALITY CHICKS

  • Livability during this period depends a lot on the quality and the health status of the chicks received;
  • The chicks should have good initial body weight (32-36 g);
  • No vertically transmitted disease like Salmonella, Reo, Avian encephalitis. Bacterial infections show up in the form of omphalitis and yolk infections etc;
  • No loose droppings and the paper or bedding material should be dry;
  • Nostrils should be dry, eyes clear, no crossed beaks, no crooked toes.

HOUSING

  • The brooder house should be located at an isolated place away from adult birds;
  • Use the premises on “ all in all out” basis;
  • The brooding can be done either on deep litter for the first 3 weeks before shifting to grower cages;
  • Have separate man power set up for this unit. No personnel visiting adult birds must take care of chicks;
  • Have enough place for the number of chicks ordered. Stocking density should be adequate;
  • Brooding cages is best. The cages of 18 inch by 15 inch is used for brooding of 18 chicks, but the number of birds reduced to 9 in the 4th week;
  • Provide starter drinkers @ 1 to 70 chicks and feeding pans @ 1 to 50 chicks;
  • Nipple drinking system is getting more popular, nipples can be used on deep litter also.One nipple for 18 chicks is recommended in deep litter and one for 10 chicks in cages;
  • Infections can be water borne. Check water contamination levels at bore wells, overhead tank at poultry house level and water can be decontaminated on a regular basis with the use of water sanitizers;
  • Warm up the house at least 6 hours before placement and maintain at 35 degrees Centigrade in the first week which can be reduced by 1 degree weekly till we reach 26C;
  • The behavior of the chicks tells whether the temperature is right and avoid too High temperature;
  • Avoid smoke in the house;
  • Relative humidity must be 65 to 75% as otherwise chicks can dehydrate;
  • Good Litter Management;
  • Efficient Pest Management.

NUTRITION

  • The growth of the chicks depend on the nutrient levels in the feed and how comfortably the chicks are eating the feed;
  • The chick feed should have at least 20% protein, fortified with all vitamins and minerals;
  • When the chicks are placed under the brooders, wait 1-2 hrs before distributing food to encourage replacing water balance;
  • Better feed ground maize particles for the first 24 hrs, before starting the mash feed or crumbles;
  • Make sure the feeders are emptied at least once in a week to avoid the buildup of fine particles;
  • The chick feed should be fresh and free from toxins. Any toxins in the feed depress the growth & the Immune system.

MEDICATION AND VACCINATION

  • Most of the vitamins, trace minerals, growth promoters and toxin binders are added in feed;
  • Generally no extra medicines are required if feed is sourced from an established feed miller, additional vitamins and antibiotics are recommended for the first 5-7 days of brooding;
  • If there are some health problems consult an experienced veterinarian or animal health specialist;
  • Immunity boosters like LEVAMISOLE and VITAMINS one day before and one day after vaccination is also being recommended considering the busy vaccination schedule;
  • The chick should be protected early against the diseases like Coccidiosis and any bacterial infection;
  • The need for a particular vaccine depends on the prevalence of the disease in a particular area;
  • Periodic serological monitoring and profiling of the flock must be done;
  • The live vaccines are usually given during the brooding stage and consult a veterinarian to draw out medication/ vaccination programmes for every flock;
  • Vaccinate only healthy flock;
  • Give at least 3-4 days gap between vaccines;
  • Plan and execute the programme quickly to reduce stress to the chicks;
  • All reconstituted live vaccines should be finished in 30 minutes;
  • Give immunity boosters and vitamins a day in advance and a day after vaccination.

DEBEAKING

It is an important operation that every farmer must perform for pullets by removing the sharp point of the beak at 3-5 days of age or 8weeks to prevent pecking which may occur at any age.

  • Debeak only during moderate weather;
  • Debeaking machines with sharp edges and blades red hot (about 800 degrees centigrade);
  • Sometimes the birds bleed excessively. Give more vitamin K along with the other vitamins;
  • During debeaking, keep the tongue away with the index fingure, between the upper and lower beak to avoid burning of tongue;
  • It is advisable to recauterize or dip the beak in ice cold water after debeaking to reduce the bleeding;
  • Remove the feed 4-5 hours before debeaking and give feed immediately after debeaking;
  • Feed particle size should be small for 3 days. Do not allow the feed level to get low in the feeder;
  • Give vitamins and antibiotics for 3-5 days.

The factors discussed above are the best ways every poultry farmer can rear efficiently to bring out optimum performance from every bird.

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