Broiler production is the raising of birds for the purpose of producing meat for food. These chickens are specifically bred for meat production and they have different body frame and nutritional requirements than other breeds i.e layers. Because of their body type, they grow extremely fast and reach butchering weight in as little as six weeks. The first requirement for growing broilers is adequate housing. Because broiler production is essentially a chick-brooding operation, the house should contain equipment so that such factors as temperature, moisture, air quality and light can be controlled easily. It should also provide for efficient installation and operation of brooding, feeding, watering and other equipment.
A key successful broiler rearing starts with having a systematic and efficient management program in place. This program must start well before the chicks arrive on site. As part of a management program pre-placement house preparation provides a basis for an efficient and profitable flock of broilers. The following checks need to be made:
After confirming that the equipment capabilities meet the number of chicks to be placed, install the necessary brooding equipment and check that all equipment is functional. Ensure that all water, feed, heat and ventilation systems are properly adjusted.
Verify that all heaters are installed at the recommended height and are operating at maximum output. Heaters should be checked and serviced an adequate time before preheating commences.
The thermostat should be placed at bird height and in the centre of the brooding area. Temperature ranges should be recorded daily and not deviate by more than 2 degrees Celsius over a 24 hour period.
Floor temperature check:
Houses should be preheated so that both the temperature (floor and ambient) and humidity are stabilized 24 hours before placement. To achieve the above target preheating needs to commence at least 48 hours before chick placement.
Chicks do not have the ability to regulate body temperature for the first five days and thermo regulation is not fully developed until 14 days of age. The chick is highly dependent upon the manager to provide the correct litter temperature.
If the litter and air temperatures are too cold, internal body temperature will decrease, leading to increased huddling, reduced feed and water intake, stunted growth and susceptibility to diseases.
At placement, floor temperatures should be at least 32 degrees Celsius with forced air heating. Litter temperature should be recorded before each placement. This will help to evaluate the effectiveness of pre-heating.
Minimum ventilation check:
Minimum ventilation should be activated as soon as the preheating begins to remove waste gases and any excess moisture.
14-16 drinkers/ 1000 chicks should be provided within the brooding area. All drinkers should be flushed to remove any residual sanitizer.
• Remove all water remaining from cleanout prior to filling
• Feed should be provided as a good quality crumble
• Do not place feed or water directly under the heat source as this may reduce feed and water intake.
Spacing chicks of similar age and flock source in a single house. Placement per house should ensure an “all in-all out” regime is maintained. Chicks must be carefully placed and evenly distributed near feed and water throughout the brooding area. Lights should be brought to full intensity within the brooding area once all chicks have been placed.
Monitor the distribution of the chicks closely during the first few days. This can be used as an indicator for any problems in feeder, drinker, ventilation or heating systems.
Characteristics of a good quality chick:
• Well-dried, long-fluffed down.
• Bright round active eyes.
• Look active and alert.
• Have completely healed navels.
• Legs should be bright and waxy to the touch.
• Chicks should be free from deformities (i.e. crooked legs, twisted necks and cross beaks).
Post placement of chicks
Ensure that both the feeders and drinkers are in adequate supply relative to the stock density and are appropriately placed. Feeders and drinkers should be placed in close proximity to each other.