In livestock production, the best converter of feed to flesh is the broiler chicken. This breed of chicken is naturally built to consume less and produce more in terms of body weight. Aside from its excellent feed conversion ability, broilers also have a very short period to maturity. This is why broiler chicken farming is the most lucrative as it enables farmers to recoup their investment within a short period.
In broiler chickens production, the major determinant of the growth rate of the chicken is the feed they consume. Feed plays a major role in the growth rate of any farm animal, just that it is more pronounced in broiler chicken compare to other breeds of chicken. Aside from the feeding aspect of broiler production, other factors also play key roles in the growth rate of broiler chickens. The joy of your production is when your chicken can actually compete and control good price. This is not the function of the feed alone; there are some tips you can adopt that will enable you to get bigger broiler chicken than the usual ones at little or no cost. These tips are common but most neglected managerial practices; they are:
- Selection of broiler chicken
- Early feeding
- Light management
1. Selection of broiler chicken
There are different broiler chicken breeds called strains; we have: Cobbs, Hubbard, Arbo-acre, Ross; they are all good meat producer. Selection of your broiler bird starts from the eggs that hatch into the chicks and not just the chicks alone. It is imperative you ask certain questions from the hatchery management before the procurement of the day-old-chicks; these questions will aid your selection.
You need to know the average weight of the eggs that hatched into the chicks; this is because larger hatching eggs produce bigger broiler chicks. The weight of good hatching eggs ranges from 52g to 70g; every elevation in one gram in egg weight will result in an increase of 7.5g in the broiler body weight. Request this information from the hatchery management; it is not a trade secret, hence, it must be tenable when requested.
2. Early feeding
Management practices in broiler chicken farming are crucial to the growth of broiler chickens. Broilers, by nature, are very fragile and susceptible. They require proper management to ensure optimum performance. Feeding is very important in poultry production. The quality and quantity of the feed will determine the output, in terms of weight gained, in broiler chicken; hence, you must ensure you serve adequate feed always.
Early feeding is highly recommended in broiler production, ensure the chickens are not starved; supply feed as early as possible. This is because broilers are heavy feeders; but worry-less about their feeding habit because they will surely convert well, earlier than expected. Also, very important is the particle size of the feed; the smaller the particle size of the feed, the better it is.
This is because the smaller the particle size the large the surface area of the feed, the surface area is the point of nutrient deposition, hence, small-sized broiler feed releases nutrient faster and easier. Some farmers intentionally serve large particle size feed just because they want to delay the digestion in the quest of saving the cost of feeding; this is not a good practice as it will truly reduce the feed consumption but retard the growth rate and weight gained, so what is the point?
During the first week of the chicks’ life, they should be fed ad-libitum with relatively smaller particle feed and abundance of fresh clean water. The first week is very important; ensure you feed early to enable the rapid growth of tissues and body development.
3. Light management
In broiler chicken farming, the length of the day-light is very important and crucial to the growth of the chickens. Lighting has a lot of benefits most farmers do not know. Broiler chickens have lighting schedule that must the followed duly. Proper lighting program increases growth, reduces mortality due to leg problem and sudden death problem. Lighting programme for broilers is as follows:
- Ensure 24 hours of light for the first 3 days after hatching.
- Ensure 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness daily at 4-6days of age.
- At age 7-21, ensure 12 hours of lighting and 12 hours of darkness daily.
- Lastly, at 4 weeks of age upward, adopt the natural daylight.
Lighting stimulates feeding, this is why it is recommended at a high rate at the early life of the broiler chicken to ensure adequate feeding and water intake, hence, building a solid foundation. The period of darkness, at least 6 hours, helps to build the birds’ immune system and also conserve energy; the latter leads to better conversion of feed. A regular lighting program has the following benefits:
- It ensures uniform growth in birds
- It reduces stress as birds go to sleep filled and wake up to feeding.
- It reduces mortality and skeletal defects
Broiler chicken farming is a very lucrative poultry enterprise; it is more advantageous than other breeds of poultry birds; aside from its fast growth rate, it produces good quality meat with high protein profile. One of the best ways to stay afloat competition is to ensure your broiler chickens are of bigger weight always; the highlighted tips will enable you to have bigger chickens at every production cycle. These tips depend greatly on the management system; management of broilers needs more attention than other birds. It requires proper monitoring and strict schedules.
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