Poultry has an crucial place in India as the eggs and chicken meat are important and rich sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. Poultry provides rich organic manure and is an important source of income and employment to millions of farmers and other persons engaged in allied activities in the poultry industry. Chicken is the most widely accepted meat in India. Unlike beef or pork , it does not have a religious taboo. The prices of chicken meat are lower than those of mutton or goat meat . Many Indian families , especially the educated people in urban areas , have begun to accept eggs as a regular supplemental part of their vegetarian diet .The forecast surveys indicate that as the present younger generation goes to the adulthood, the acceptability and demand for eggs and chicken meat in next 2-3 decades is likely to increase many-folds very rapidly.
Broilers are young chicken of either sex of six to eight weeks of age, tender meat with soft, pliable, smooth textured skin and flexible breast bone cartilage.
Provide 930 cm2 floor spaces per broiler chick. Provision must be made for adequate ventilation. The general management of broiler chicks is similar to those discussed under egg type chicks.
Provide up to 2 weeks 5 cm and from 3 weeks to finish 10 cm linear feeder space per bird. Raise the level of the feeder as the birds grow. Do not fill the feeder more than half. If tube feeders are used, provide 3 nos. of 12 kg capacity feeders per 100 chicks.
Composition of broiler ration
|Starter (0-5 weeks)||Finisher (6-7 weeks)|
|Groundnut cake (expeller)||15.00||11.00|
|Unsalted dried fish||10.00||8.00|
Alternatively commercial broiler starter and finisher rations prepared by reputed feed manufacturers can be given.
Production of Hatching Eggs
If hatching eggs are to be produced, cockerels have to be maintained. Rear at the rate of 15 cockerels per 100 pullets, cull- down to 12 cockerels at 10 weeks of age. For mating, provide one cock for 10-15 pullets of light breeds and 6-8 pullets of heavy breeds. Collect hatching eggs two weeks after introduction of males.
Gather hatching eggs 3 to 4 times a day. In hot or cold season increase the frequency of collections. As soon as the eggs are collected, store them at a temperature between 10 and 16oC with a relative humidity of 70 - 80%. Select eggs for hatching that meet the weight requirement and that are normal in shape, colour and texture. While storing and transporting hatching eggs, keep them with broad end up and handle the eggs very gently. If possible either set the eggs for incubation or market hatching eggs twice a week. Never hold hatching eggs for more than one week under ordinary conditions of storage.
The incubation period of chicken egg is 21 days. For successful hatching, eggs require specific conditions of temperature, turning and ventilation
Specific conditions for hatching
|37.5 – 37.8oC
|Humidity||60% up to 18 days||70% thereafter|
|Turning||Once every 4 hours up to 18 days||-|
Candle the eggs twice during incubation – one on 7th day and the other on 18-19 days of incubation. Transfer the eggs to the hatches after candling on 18th day.
Disease Control Guidelines
Diseases are likely where larger numbers of birds are reared in confinement. Therefore, a planned programme for the prevention and control of diseases in the poultry houses is a crucial factor in profitable poultry farming. The following general principles are to be followed.
HATCHING OF EGGS
Hatching of eggs refers to the production of baby chicks. In early days eggs were hatched by placing them under broody hens. Desi hens proved to be ideal for this purpose. Only 10 to 12 eggs can be put under 1 hen. This method of hatching is highly unsatisfactory for large-scale production of baby chicks. Incubators, which provide similar environment as that of broody hens, but more efficiently, are used at present for hatching of eggs.
The physical factors necessary for successful incubation are temperature, humidity, gaseous environment and turning of eggs. Optimum and uniform temperature inside the incubator is very essential for obtaining satisfactory results. The incubator temperature should be maintained as recommended by the manufacturer. It usually varies from 99.5° to 100.5°F (37.2°C - 37.8°C) for forced draft-type incubators and about 1°F higher for still-air incubators. Low temperature slows down the development of embryo and higher than optimum temperature hastens the embryonic development. When abnormal temperature conditions extend over a long period, hatchability is adversely affected by increase in embryonic mortality and weak and deformed chicks.
Humidity in the incubator affects hatchability. Dry and wet bulb thermometers are used for measuring humidity. In fowls egg takes about 21 days to hatch. The relative humidity should be around 60 per cent during the first 18 days of incubation and 70 per cent in the last 3 days for optimum hatchability. In the forced draft-type incubators the· temperature requirement decreases as the humidity increases.
Fertile eggs are loaded into the incubator with broad end up. Hatchability decreases when eggs are placed in the incubator with narrow end up as the embryo develops with its head in the small end . Turning or eggs in the incubator improves hatchability. Eggs should be turned at least 4 times during a day when turning is done by hand. Modem incubators are provided with devices for automatic turning of eggs at least 8 times or more during 24 hours. In this egg trays turn through an angle of 90°. No turning is required after 18 days of incubation.
Use of separate hatcher improves hatchability. When separate hatcher is used temperature is maintained at about 98°F and relative humidity at 70 to 80 per cent to obtain good hatch. Use of separate hatcher facilitates cleaning, disinfection and fumigation without disturbing other eggs.
Poultry management usually refers to the husbandry practices or production techniques that help to maximize the efficiency of production. Sound management practices are very essential to optimize production. Scientific poultry management aims at maximizing returns with minimum investment.
Brooder house: Brooder house should be draft-free, rain-proof and protected against predators. Brooding pens should have windows with wire mesh for adequate ventilation. Too dusty environment irritates the respiratory tract of the chicks. Besides dust is one of the vehicles of transmission of diseases. Too much moisture causes ammonia fumes which irritate the respiratory tract and eyes. Good ventilation provides a comfortable environment without draft.
Sanitation and hygiene:
All movable equipments like feeders, waterers and hovers should be removed from the house, cleaned and disinfected. All litters are to be scraped and removed. The interior as well as exterior of the house should be cleaned under pressure. The house should be disinfected with any commercial disinfectant solution at the recommended concentration. Insecticide should be sprayed to avoid insect threat. Malathion spray/blow lamping or both can be used to control ticks and mites. New litter should be spread after each cleaning. The insecticides if necessary should be mixed with litter at recommended doses.
Suitable litter material like saw dust and paddy husk should be spread to a length of 5 cm depending upon their availability and cost. Mouldy material should not be used. The litter should be stirred at frequent intervals to prevent caking. Wet litters if any should be removed immediately and replaced by dry new litter. This prevents ammoniacal odour.
Heating is very much essential to provide right temperature in the brooder house. Too high or too low a temperature slows down growth and causes mortality. During the first week the temperature should be 95°F (35°C) which may be reduced by 5°F per week during each successive week till 70°F (21·10C). The brooder should be switched on for at least 24 hours before the chicks arrive. As a rule of thumb the temperature inside the brooder house should be approximately 20°F (-6·7°C) below the brooder temperature Hanging of a maximum and minimum thermometer in each house is recommended to have a guide to control over the differences in the house temperature. The behavior of chicks provides better indication of whether they are getting the desired amount of heat. . When the temperature is less than required, the chicks try to get closer to the source of heat and huddle down under the brooder. When the temperature is too high, the chicks will get away from the source of heat and may even pant or gasp. When temperature is right, the chicks will be found evenly scattered. In hot weather, brooders are not necessary after the chicks are about 3 weeks old. Several devices can be used for providing artificial heat. Hover type electric brooders are by far the most common and practical these days. The temperature in these brooders is thermostatically controlled. Many a times the heat in the brooder house is provided by use of electric bulbs of different intensities. Regulation of temperature in such cases is difficult although not impossible. Infrared lamps are also very good for brooding. The height and number of infra-red lamps can be adjusted as per temperature requirement in the brooder house.
Brooder space of 7 to 10 sq inch (45-65 cm2) is recommended per chick. Thus a 1·80 m hover can hold 500 chicks. When small pens are used for brooding, dimension of the house must be taken into consideration as overcrowding results in starve-outs, culls and increase in disease problems.
To prevent the straying of baby chicks from the source of heat, hover guards are placed 1·05 to 1·50 m from the edge of hover. Hover guard is not necessary after 1 week.
Floor space of 0·05 m2 should be provided per chick to start with, which should be increased by 0·05 m2 after every 4 weeks until the pullets are about 20 weeks of age. For broilers at least 0·1 m2 of floor space for female chicks and 0·15 m2 for male chicks should be provided till 8 weeks of age. Raising broiler pullets and cockerel chicks in the separate pens may be beneficial.
Plentiful of clean and fresh water is very much essential. A provision of 50 linear cm of water space per 100 chicks for first two weeks has to be increased to 152-190 linear cm at 6 to 8 weeks. When changing from chick fountain to water trough the fountains are to be left in for several days till the chicks have located the new water source. Height of the waterers should be maintained at 2·5 cm above the back height of the chicks to reduce spoilage. Antibiotics or other stress medications may be added to water if desired. All waterers should be cleaned daily. It may be desirable to hold a few chicks one at a time and teach them to drink.