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CountryChicken

CountryChicken

CountryChicken

Country chicken or desi murgrefers to the breeds of chickens native to India that are raised for eggs and meat. Different parts of the country have different breed types such asAseel, Kadaknath or Bursa.  These are all native domesticated fowl that are bred by local farmers on a small scale basis.  The life of a desi murga is a charming one. Most of them spend a majority of their time in the great outdoors, running around and scratching the dirt for worms or insects then supplementing their diet with household scraps.

Basically two systems are commonly followed in our country 
1. Cage system 
2. Deep litter system

I. Cage system:  The cage system of rearing birds has been considered as a super intensive system providing floor area of 450-525 sq.cm. (0.6-0.75 sq.feet) per bird.  In cage the birds are kept in one, two or three per cage, arranged in single or double or triple rows.

Cage fatigue:  Cage fatigue is considered to a physiological derangement of mineral electrolytes imbalance.  Leg weakness is common in caged birds.

Fatty live syndrome:  It is a problem met with caged layers due to increased deposition of fat in the body resulting in death due to internal hemorrhage.  Increasing the protein level and the diet strengthened by the addition of choline, vitamin B12, inositol and vitamin-E may be helpful in reducing the incidence of problem.

II Deep litter system:  Deep litter system is commonly used in all over the world.

Confinement Rearing

Size of flock: Larger size units are more economical than smaller ones under commercial conditions. A unit of 2000 layers is usually considered as economical for commercial egg production. In the case of broilers a unit intake of 250 chicks per week is usually considered as viable.

Stock: Procure the best quality chicks. No amount of good management can convert poor quality chicks into good layers or broilers. More profit can be made in a commercial unit by procuring day old pullet chicks. In broiler units, straight-run chicks would give equally good performance.

Random sample poultry performance test: Government of India has established random sample test units for layers and broilers in four locations, viz. Bangalore, Bombay, Bhubaneswar and Delhi. The test results are published annually and give information about the performance of the various strains and breeds of chicken under identical conditions. This information would help in the choice of the stock.

Number to be procured: In determining the number to be procured, normal losses that might occur due to death and culling have to be allowed. For each 1000 layers to be housed,  procure 1100, day-old pullet chicks or 1050 growing pullet chicks or 1000 ready-to-lay pullets. In the case of broilers, the corresponding number would be 250-day-old straight-run chicks for 250 broilers to be marketed at 6-7 weeks of age.

Artificial brooding: Chicks newly hatched out require supplementary heat till they grow feathers. The period of brooding is usually up to 4-5 weeks of age and a little longer in cold season. Artificial brooding can be carried out in deep litter houses or in electrically operated brooder batteries.

Floor space, feeding space and watering space for chicks

Age weeks Floor space Sq.ft./Chick Feeding space inches/chick Watering space inches/chick
1 0.2 1.5 0.5
2 0.2 2.0 0.7
3 0.3 2.0 0.7
4 0.4 2.5 0.8
5 0.6 2.5 0.8
6 0.8 3.0 1.0
7 0.9 3.0 1.0

Temperature requirement of chicks during different ages

Age in weeks Temperature under hover, at 5 cm above floor ( °C)
0-1 35
0-2 32
2-3 29
3-4 26
5-5 23

The distribution of chicks under the hover is a better indication of warmth than the thermometer. If the chicks are active, busy eating and drinking, it indicates that the temperature under the hover is comfortable. Generally one watt per chick appears satisfactory under our climatic conditions.

Litter management: Litter materials such as wood shavings; saw dust, paddy husk, peanut shell, paddy chaff, chopped straw and such other materials that absorb moisture well can be used depending upon the cost and availability. Spread the litter to a depth of 5 cm on the floor before introducing chicks and build it up to a depth of 15 cm by adding litter material, at the rate of about 2 cm per week. This would require approximately 10 kg of litter material/sq.meter. Litter should be raked thoroughly at frequent intervals, say at least twice a week, during the cold and rainy season, once a week during the hot season and the day after deworming. Litter should be kept dry always. During the cold and rainy season and on the area of floor where watering utensils are placed, special attention should be paid daily to check the litter condition. If required, top-dress with fresh litter. It is desirable to use dry lime at the rate of 10 kg per 10 m3 and rake the litter.

Breeds of Chicken
Chickens are grown for their egg and meat. Likewise they are classified as egg-type chicken and meat-types chickens. Egg type chickens are composed of stock that has been developed for egg production and are maintained for the principal purpose of producing chicks for the ultimate production of eggs for human consumption. Breeds of meat type chickens primarily include broilers, fryers, roasters, and other meat type chickens. Here broilers and other chickens are raised for their meat. Broilers are genetically selected for fast growth and raised for meat rather than eggs e.g. White Synthetic Male line (WSML), white synthetic dam line (SDL), coloured synthetic male line (CSML), coloured synthetic female line (CSFL), introgression of frizzle gene etc.

Indigenous Breeds
The common control hen, the desi, is as a rule the best mother for hatching. She is a good forager. Some of the Indian flows resemble the Leghorn in size and shape, but have poor laying qualities. They are Found in various colours. one variety found in India resembles the sussex or Plymouth Rock in shape but is smaller. These birds lay family well and are more common in the eastern parts of the country. 

The Indian birds are mostly non-descripts, and are of very little value as layers. They have several local breed names such as Tenis, Naked Neck, Punjab, Brown, Ghagus, Lolab, Kashmir Faberella, Tilri, Busra, Telllicherry, Danki, Nicorai and Kalahasti. There are only 4 pure breeds Karaknath and the Busra. The last occurs in western India. A large number of flows of different size, shapes and colours, and for the most part resembling the jungle fowls, are found all over India. They vary in appearance according to the locality in which they have been bred. These with Chittagong, Aseel, Langshan or Brahma blood in them are bigger in size and better in meat quality than the common flows.

Asil
Asil is noted for its pugnacity, high stamina, majestic gait and dogged fighting qualities. The best specimens of the breed, although rare, and encountered in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rsjasthan. The most popular varieties are peela (golden red), yarkin (black and red), Nurie 89(white), kagar (black), chitta (black and white silver), Teekar (brown) and Reza (light red). Although poor in productivity, the birds of this breed are well-known for their meat qualities. Broodiness in most common and the hen is a good sitter and efficient mother. They possess pea combs which are small  but firmly set on head. Wattles and ear lobes are bright red, and the beak is hart. The face is long and slender, and not covered with feather. The eyes are compact, well set and present bold looks. The neck is long, uniformly thick but no fleshy. The body is round and short with broad breast straight back and close - set strong tail root. The general feathering is close, scanty and almost absent on the Brest. The plumage has practically no fluff and the feathers are tough. The tail is small and drooping. The legs are strong, straight, and set well apart. Standard weight (kg): Cocks, 4 to 5; hen 3 to 4; cockerrels, 3.5 to 4.5; pullets, 2.5  to 3.5.

Karaknath
The original name of the breed seems to be Kalamasi, meaning a fowl with black flesh. However, it is popularly known as Karaknath. The eggs are light brown. The day-old chicks are bluish to black with irregular dark stripes over the the back. The adult plumage varies from silver and gold-spangled to bluish-black without any spangling.  The skin, beak, shanks, toes and soles of feet are slatelike in colour.The comb, wattles and tongue are purple. Most of the internal organs show intense black colouration which is pronounced in trachea, thoracic and abdominal air-sacs, gonads and at the base of  the heart and mesentery. Varying degrees of block colouration are also seen in the skeletal muscles, tendons, nerves, meninges, brain etc. The blood is darker than normal blood. The black pigment has been due to deposition of melanin, The flesh although repulsive to look at, is delicious. A medium layer, lays about 80 eggs per year. The bird is resistant to diseases in its natural habitat in free range but is more susceptible to Mareks disease under intensive rearing conditions. 

Backyard Poultry Units

The main breeds of backyard poultry are Kalinga Brown, Mumbai Desi, Rhode Island Red and CARI Nirbheek. The methods of rearing chicken in the backyard differ greatly from place to place. Though the housing conditions are almost adequate, proper attention to feeding is practically not given. Also the production potential of the desi flocks in such units may be greatly improved by introducing exotic breed. 
Therefore particular attention may be given to those important aspects namely,

  1. Introduction of exotic males in the backyard units.
  2. Rearing of cross-bred birds’ viz. Gramalakshmi, Gramapriya, etc.
  3. To give better ventilation in the night shelter.
  4. Timely preventive vaccinations and deworming.
  5. To provide some amount of balanced feed rather than leaving the birds entirely for scavenging.

A suitable all-purpose premix is suggested below exclusively for the use of backyard poultry. Fairly good egg production can be achieved by providing 50 per cent of daily requirement of feed in the form of balanced feed/commercial feed.

HOUSING FOR POULTRY

Open-sided poultry houses are very popular in our country.  Except where the temperature is exceptionally low open-sided houses work very satisfactorily and are also preferred for economic reasons.  The primary objective of providing housing to poultry is to protect them from sun, rain and predators.  Housing is also essential to provide comfort. Poultry houses should be-well ventilated, reasonably cool in summer and warm during winter, and free from drafts. In hotter parts of the country, the long axis of the house should run from east to west and the sides should face north-south to prevent direct sunshine falling into the house. In colder parts of the country it is desirable to construct the houses facing south or south-east to get maximum sunlight. The distance between two houses for birds of same age group should be at least 18 m to allow proper ventilation.But the young stock house should be at least 45 to 100 m away from the houses having adult stocks to prevent diseases. To avoid ventilation problem the width of the house should not exceed 9 m in open-sided houses. The height of the house depends upon temperature of the place. Ordinarily the height of the house should be 2·4 to 3 m from the foundation to roof line.  When height is more it helps to reduce the inside temperature.

The following are the desirable points to be borne in mind while selecting a location.

  • Establish the farm preferably in an area where chicks and feed are easily available.
  • Where there is a source of electricity.
  • Where there is a possibility of good drainage during monsoon.
  • Where drinking water is freely available.
  • Where there is good market nearby.

FEEDING OF POULTRY

Feeding constitutes the fundamental and major management concern in poultry production since major expenditure (60-70%) in poultry rising is feed cost. Efficiency in feeding therefore is one of the key factors for successful poultry production. More than 40 nutrients are required by the poultry. They can be arranged into six classes according to their chemical nature, functions they perform and the ease with which they are chemically determined.

These groups of nutrients are: water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.

Carbohydrates and fats are the principal sources of energy. Fats are the concentrated form of energy and yield 2·25 times more energy than, carbohydrates, on weight basis. Fats are also the source of essential fatty acids, i.e. linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids. The requirement for protein is essentially the requirement for amino acids.

The essential amino acids for poultry are : arginine, glycine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, cystine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Out of these, the ones critical in practical diets are arginine, lysine, methionine, cystine and tryptophan.

Minerals and vitamins do not supply energy but they play an important role in the regulation of several essential metabolic processes in the body. The minerals and vitamins that are critical in practical poultry diets are as follows:

Minerals  :Calcium, phosphorus, sodium. copper, iodine, iron, manganese and zinc. 

Vitamins : Vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, pyridoxine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid, BIZ and choline .

Feed Ingredients 
Conventional poultry rations usually include many cereals like maize, rice, wheat, oat, barley; and a few cereal byproducts such as wheat-bran or rice polish, animal and vegetable protein sources like fish-meal, meat-meal, soybean-oil-meal, groundnut-cake, etc. according to their availability. The whole ration is fortified with adequate minerals and vitamins either in chemically pure or through ingredients known to be rich in these nutrients. 

With the cost of feed soaring high and the availability of conventional ingredients becoming scarce, intensive and continuous efforts are being made to determine the nutritive value of agro industrial byproducts to replace more costly ingredients in poultry rations. The following are some of the common feedstuffs used for making poultry rations in this country.

Conventional Poultry Feeds

  1. Maize: It is highly digestible and contains very little fibre. It is used as a source of energy and is low in protein, especially lysine, and sulphur-containing amino acids. The yellow varieties are a good source of vitamin A and xanthophyll. The latter is responsible for the yellow skin in certain breeds of fowl.
  2. Barley: Barley is not very palatable because of its high fibre content and should not constitute more than 15 per cent of the ration.
  3. Oat: Oat is not very palatable because of its high fibre content. It should not constitute more than 20 per cent of the ration. Because of its manganese content, it may help in preventing hock disorders, feather pulling and cannibalism.
  4. Wheat: Wheat can be used for replacing maize as a source of energy.
  5. Wheat bran: It is bulky and quite laxative on account of its high fibre, manganese and phosphorus content.
  6. Pearl millet: This is a very useful feedstuff, similar to wheat in its nutritive value.
  7. Rice: Broken grains of rice can be used for replacing maize.
  8. Rice polish: This is a very good substitute for cereal grains and can be used up to 50 per cent of the ration. Because of the high oil content, it is likely to become rancid on storage under warm conditions.
  9. Deoiled rice polish: Energy content of deoiled rice polish is low because of the removal of fat, but it is rich in protein and ash content.
  10. Sorghum: The feeding value of sorghum is similar to that of maize. But it has a higher protein content, quite palatable and maybe used in place of maize. Sorghum-meal is a good source of some amino acids, but costlier than other oilcakes.
  11. Groundnut-cake: It is quite palatable and is widely used as a source of protein in poultry rations. It contains about 40 per cent protein.
  12. Fish-meal: Fish-meal is one of the best poultry feedstuffs as a source of animal protein. Its composition varies widely depending upon whether it is made from whole bony fish or fish cannery scraps. Most Indian fish-meals contain 45 to 55 per cent protein. The presence of fish scales reduces its feeding value.
  13. Limestone: Limestone is a source of calcium. It should not contain more than 5 per cent magnesium.
  14. Oyster-shell: Oyster-shell contains more than 38 per cent calcium, and is a good substitute for limestone. It is quite palatable.   

Care and management of newly arrived chicks

  • Plan the requirements of chicks, book with hatchery people and contact and confirm the exact date and time of arrival of chicks. When chicks are delivered, do not allow the delivery van into the farm premises. Take delivery at the entrance itself.
  • Keep boiled and cooled drinking water ready. Add 8gm of glucose, 0.5-1gm of mild antibiotic or antibacterial drug per liter, electrolytes and vitamin mixture at recommended dosage in water for the first day.
  • Antibiotics and vitamins may be continued for 3-5 days.
  • Keep medicated water in the water before leaving the chicks into the brooder arrangement.
  • Keep feeders open for five hours and spread a little feed on the newspaper. Check. Whether the chicks are healthy, of uniform weight with in the suggested range of 40-48 gm each.
  • Count the chicks, dip the beak of the chicks in the drinking water and place it gently into the brooding arrangement. .
  • Return weak, inactive, unhealthy chicks with matted feather at the back and the dead chicks and ask for replacement.Check that the chicks’ move actively scratching and taking feed and water.
  • If kerosene stoves or coal stoves are used a metal vessel with sand is placed over the stove to dissipate heat properly.
  • Heater coils may also be provided for warmth instead of bulbs. They have to be hanged above the reach of the chicks.
  • It is necessary to verify whether the warmth given is sufficient to the chicks. During 1st week, chicks require 35 C (95 F) warmth, which may be reduced by 5C every week.
  • If the chicks feel comfortable at the given temperature, they walk actively throughout the area unmindful of the heat provided and some taking rest setting their head down on the side, the posture being given the name as chick comfort.
  • Particularly, the hover may be put on for 22 hours in a day switching it off for only 30 minutes during the night. Later on, lighting for heat may be given during night only up to the end of 2nd or 3rd week, depending on the season. It may be restricted to one-week only during peak summer and extended to three weeks during winter or rainy seasons. In such seasons, it is advisable to close sides of the house with thick curtains during first week.

COMMON VIRUS DISEASE OF POULTRY

Ranikhet disease, also known in the West as Newcastle disease is a contagious and highly fatal daises of flows. In spite of the notable work done towards its control, this disease still ranks as one of the most serious virus diseases of poultry. The disease occurs in almost all countries and usually assumes a server form affecting birds of all ages. Mortality in flows varies from 50 to 100 per cent. 

Ranikhet disease is largely a disease of flows, but it also effects turkeys, pigenosn, grows, ducks, geese, koel pheasants, guinea-flows, partridges and doves. hedgehogs have been suspected as reservoirs of the disease. The disease is also suspected to cause conjunctivitis among laboratory workers and persons handling infected birds.

Symptoms
The symptoms vary according to the age of the affected birds. The first symptoms usually observed in young birds are sneezing, gasping and often droopiness. It is in this stage of the disease that the manifestations rather closely resemble those of infections bronchitis. Within a short time after appearance of respiratory symptoms, deaths occur in a flock in quick succession and in increasing numbers from day to day. 

Among growing birds and in adult sudden deaths occur in a dew instances, and are followed by a number of birds showing respiratory symptoms. The affected birds are full and depressed with ruffled feathers. These symptoms are accompanied by diarrhea, characterize by the passing of a watery stool with an offensive smell. There is profuse salivation. The saliva often accumulates in the mouth and obstructs respiration, which results in the production of gurgling disused birds may be soft - shelled and deformed. In turkeys the disease runs a very mild course. In adults, in particular, it may pass unnoticed except for some dullness, loss of appetite and other minor symptoms.

Treatment and Prevention 
At present there is no effective treatment of any value. Proper housing and general good care are indicated in an effort to shorten the duration and severity of the infection. 
An early recognition of the disease and application of struck sanitary measures are of great value in the control of the disease. Some important measures for its prevention are ; slaughtering of all apparently ailing birds, segregating of in - contact in group of 10 to 15 each; removal of all infective materials such as droppings, residues of poultry cleanliness ; and provision of separate attendants for each group of birds. 
The poultry farm should be at a distance from place of traffic. All newly purchased birds should be kept in segregation from not less than 10 days before taking them into the farm. The poultry runs should be ploughed from time to time and lime applied thereon as a general disinfectant. As far as possible the pens and runs should be made inaccessible to free - flying birds by providing a barrier of wire - netting.

Control 
Control of Ranikhet diseases can be effect with judicious application of sanitary and vaccination measures. The possibility of entry and spread of infection is considerably reduced through the maintenance of flock on deep little system and stopping all unauthorized entries, even of human beings, into the battery brooders. Disposal of fowl carcasses by burning or deep brutal to reduce the scope of carrion-eating birds like crows, kites and vultures perching near fowl pens or poultry farms helps to resume the hazards of this infection. Two types of vaccines are available in India, one for the adult birds an another for younger birds or body chicks. The virus strain for Ranikeht disease vaccine used for adult birds age over weeks was evolved at the Indian veterinary Research Institute. The vaccine consists of freeze - dried virus grown in chick embryos. Vaccination of birds 6 weeks old and above confers immunity for 1 to 3 years. Care should be taken to vaccinate bird’s not carrying heavy coccidian infection. Birds with heavy worm infection or coccidiosis are not protected even with a good vaccine. There are sometimes complications side reactions following vaccination. There are sometimes complications side reactions following vaccination with 'Mukteswar' strain of Ranikhet disease vaccine. These consist on inco-ordination of limbs and sometimes paralysis in 1 to 3 per cent to the vaccinated birds. The reactions may become more acute if the birds are affected with roundworms, coccidiosis or are weak on account of malnutrition.

Vaccination programme for layer type chicken

   Age

Disease

Vaccine

Route

1. 1 day

Marek’s

HVT vaccine

I/M

2. 5-7 days

RD

Lasota/F

Occulonasal

3. 10-14 days

IBD

IBD Live

Drinking water

4. 24-28 days

IBD

IBD Live

Drinking water

5. 8th week

RD

R2B/RDVK

S/C

6. 16-18 week

RD

Killed/Live

S/C

Artificial Insemination (AI) is an important tool to improve the reproductive performance of birds especially broiler breeders and turkey where fertility is low due to heavy body weight.  Eventhough AI is well developed technique in cattle, is not so well developed in poultry because no standard technique is available to store poultry semen for a long period.  The techniques available at present permits to collect semen and use it for insemination immediately with or without dilution using semen diluents at 1: 2 ratio.  Semen collected from one cock is sufficient for inseminating 5 to 10 hens depending upon the semen volume and sperm concentration.

At farms, where AI is practiced the males are kept separately in individual cages where sufficient space is available for movement of the birds.  There should be a particular team of workers to associate collection and insemination of semen.  Frequent changes of personnel in the team may affect the normal behaviour of birds.  Rough handling should be avoided, if not it may develop fear reaction, which affects the semen volume during ejaculation.

Characteristics of Poultry Semen

Semen consists of spermatozoa and seminal plasma.  Fowl semen is generally highly concentrated (3 to 8 billion spermatozoa per ml for broiler fowl).  This is due to the presence of limited amount of seminal plasma since the accessory reproductive organs are absent in avian species.  The seminal plasma is derived from the testes and excurrent ducts.  At the time of ejaculation a lymph-like fluid (also known as transparent fluid) of cloacal origin may be added to the semen in varying amounts.  The addition of transparent fluid to semen at the time of ejaculation act as an activating medium for the previously non-motile spermatozoa, thus ensuring their transport from the site of deposition to the sites of sperm storage tubules in the utero-vaginal junction of the hen's oviduct.

Usually cock start producing semen from the age of 16 weeks but the fertilizing capacity of the semen is low.  So the cocks from 22 or 24 weeks of age are used for semen collection. The natural colour of poultry semen is white or pearly white. Heavy breed male can produce 0.75  to 1 ml semen and light breed male can produce 0.4 to 0.6 ml of semen. A male can be used thrice in a week for semen collection with a gap of one day.  Although every day semen collection will not change the fertilizing capacity but the volume of semen will be low.

Equipment needed for A.I.

  • Small glass funnel with stem plugged with wax.
  • Inseminating syringe
  • Wide mouthed glass vial.
  • Small pyrex semen cup
  • Large flask to hold water at 180 C to 200 C range for short time holding of semen.

Steps in AI

AI in poultry is a three-step procedure involving semen collection, semen dilution and insemination.  The second step may be omitted if 'neat' semen (undiluted) is to be used for inseminations within 30 minutes after collection.

Semen collection

The first step in AI program is manual collection (milking) of the semen.  For semen collection, a team of two members are generally involved, one for restraining the male and the other for collecting semen.

The bird is held in a horizontal position by a person at a height convenient to the operator who is attempting to collect the semen.  To collect semen the operator should place the thumb and index finger of the left hand on either side of the cloaca and massage gently.  By his right hand the operator should hold a collecting funnel and with the thumb and index finger massage the soft part of abdomen below the pelvic bones.  Massage should be rapid and continuous until the cock protrudes the papilla from the cloaca. Once the papilla is fully protruded, the previously positioned thumb and index finger of the left hand are used to squeeze out the semen in to the collecting funnel.  Avoid contamination of semen with faeces and  feather.
Semen evaluation at the time of collection

  • Normal colour of the semen in pearly white or cream coloured.   Yellow semen and semen contaminated  with blood, urates, faeces or other debris should be avoided.
  • Do not allow semen to contact water.
  • If debris or contaminants are observed in pooled semen, carefully aspirate contaminates from the sample before mixing with additional diluent with the semen
  • Place the diluted semen in a cooler or refrigerator (3 to 12 oC) to cool down.

Insemination:
All equipment used for insemination should be thoroughly cleaned and dry before Use. Insemination must be carried out when majority of the birds completed laying since a hard shelled egg in the lower end of the oviduct obstructs insemination and lowers fertility.  In practice, inseminating chicken after 3 pm obtained better results.  In turkey flocks much better results are obtained if insemination is done after 5 pm. It is difficult to inseminate non-laying hens.  Usually insemination is done when the flock reaches 25% egg production.  Hens are inseminated twice during first week.  Then at weekly intervals.

Procedure:

  • Bird is held by the legs with the left hand down and tail tucked back and against the operator chest.
  • The thumb of the right hand is placed against the upper lip of the vent then with a rounding motion press the abdomen muscle.
  • Do not squeeze with fingers but apply pressure evenly with the palm of the hand. When the oviduct is everted, the second operator inserts the syringe into oviduct as far as it is going inside without exerting pressure.  The insemination apparatus is introduced into the vagina about 1 inch and semen is deposited at the junction of vagina and uterus.