By Albert Makendenge
Biosecurity, pre-placement preparation, brooding management, litter management, water and feed management, stocking density, environmental management, and flock health management are main key areas of broiler production and management. Mistakes in broiler production that lead to high mortality usually come from these areas as explained below.
Besides feed (the single largest cost of broiler production), there are several other resources such as drugs as well as proper feeding equipment that requires the farmer to have enough capital to start and sustain broiler production. Being financially prepared ensures a healthy life for the bird through all of its growth and developmental stages. Most farmers, especially new ones, always make the mistake of starting poultry farming without having a cost analysis report and doing a feasibility study.
Flock health management is also very important in broiler management and farmers have got to be alert to any and every possible risk, danger or sign of it to the health of the birds. This is where most farmers come up short as they may not be consistent in observing their flock, which should be done on a daily basis. Late identification of a disease or any other health problem with the birds almost always leads to a higher rate deaths. Deaths that easily could have been avoided.
Another mistake that farmers usually make is overcrowding the broilers. Broilers need enough space which corresponds with their body weight and size at different stages of growth. Overcrowding can lead to stress, cannibalism, feather pecking and other issues. All these are responsible for high mortalities in broiler production. Besides allowing the birds the freedom and space to roam about, spacious housing (the right stocking density) also comes in handy when it comes to limiting the rapid spread of fatal diseases.
Poor hygiene in the poultry house and poorly ventilated housing system is also a common mistake. Keeping the birds in a dirty, poorly ventilated and dark houses can lead to many health issues such as respiratory problems, mite/lice infestations and a host of other health issues and diseases. Farmers have got to make sure to keep poultry house bedding clean and it also has to be changed often. The house also has to be well ventilated to allow for free air circulation and for natural light to enter.
Most farmers also fail especially when it comes to biosecurity measures which are meant to protect the birds from harmful biological agents like viruses, bacteria and parasites. The lack of well-defined biosecurity practices (such as limiting visitors, keeping food and water disease free, keeping rodents and other animals away) which are crucial to successful broiler production will definitely be responsible for the failure of it.
Last but not least is the lack of devoted attention to feed, water and light requirements of the birds. Broilers which are termed feed conversion machines always have got to have enough access to feed, water and light in the right quality and time to ensure for successful growth and development and not degeneration and death.