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Expert share tips for poultry farmers
With drop in the mercury level and change in weather from warm to cold, poultry farmers may have to face some challenges of low environmental temperature, poor ventilation and decreased photoperiod.
These seasonal fluctuations might directly or indirectly influence the egg and meat production. Therefore, farmers must be ready to take on these challenges by adopting some winter stress-alleviating practices to overcome economic losses.
Egg production has a tendency to slump down in winter because of reduced hours of natural light. Since hens need 16 or more hours of daylight to lay well to their potential, provision of light bulbs in the laying hen sheds may be considered according to need. This will encourage hen to lay more number of eggs.
To protect the birds from cold, gunny bags or plastic sheet curtains can be installed on the sidewalls of the shed. However, don’t restrict ventilation in an attempt to conserve warmth. Good ventilation in the chicken shed is a must, because chickens naturally produce a lot of moisture in their breath and droppings. Poor ventilation inside their house may create an ammonia build-up which will affect their eyes, respiratory system and make them sick.
Poultry birds need plenty of fresh air circulating in and around the poultry shed, so care should be taken not to cover entire sidewall but ensure sufficient open area towards the ceiling of the shed to facilitate escape of foul air. To provide warm and cozy environment, increase in the depth of litter material (bedding) by six inch. Free access to balanced diet and fresh water must be available to chickens of all age.
Different age groups of poultry birds have unique requirements and abilities to bear cold stress. However, day-old chicks are the most fragile and a temperature of 95o F during the first week is a must. Chicks chirping loudly, or huddling in groups, most likely feel too cold and need immediate attention and remedial measures. Try to feed them warm water and place them under the brooders (heating device), before the arrival of chicks, preheat the brooder room for a day to 95oF, install curtains on sidewall of chicken houses without restricting ventilation, increase the depth of litter material (bedding) and maintain minimum ‘daylight’ of 16 hours by light bulb for egg producers.
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