In the field of poultry farming, one often comes across terms like brooding and rearing. But what do these really mean? How are they done? It is time to find out!
Brooding refers to the time shortly after hatching, and you must give extra care and consideration to the chicks. Also, ensure their health and survival.
Rearing refers to the remainder of life after brooding until sexual maturity. You can do it in two ways, which are listed below.
Free-Range or Extensive System
This is the oldest farming method used by general producers, where land and monetary presence are insufficient. Instead of being contained in any way, free-range poultry farming consists of poultry birds able to roam freely.
It is practiced on a small scale in rural areas. During at least half of its life, a free-range chicken must have daytime access to open-air runs. They are kept in sheds at night.
Free-range chickens grow more slowly than intensive chickens. The benefits include a lowered growth rate and normal activity opportunities, such as pecking, scraping, outdoor foraging, and training, as well as fresh air and sunshine.
Free-range chickens have improved leg and heart health and a significantly greater quality of life as they mature slowly and have chances for exercise. It can be difficult to locate suitable land with proper drainage to mitigate worms and coccidian oocysts. Excess heat, cold, or humidity can affect the animals and their productivity.
Free-range producers have no control of the food their animals come across, unlike battery farms, which can contribute to unreliable productivity. Diseases are prevalent, and species are vulnerable to predators.
A lack of disease control in free-range farming in South-East Asia has been linked with Avian influenza outbreaks. Thus, the free-range culture approach is not ideal for commercial purposes.
Indoor or Intensive Method
Chickens are kept indoors in this process but with more rooms (around 12 to 14 birds per square meter). For starters, they have a richer setting with natural light or straw bales that promote foraging and perching.
With reduced crowding and more natural behavior opportunities, the advantages of indoor structures are of greater welfare. There are two types in the intensive or indoor scheme: (A) Battery Cage System and (B) Deep Litter System.
Battery Cage System
The cage system of rearing birds has been called a super-intensive system. It provides a floor area of 450-525 sq. cm per bird (0.6-0.75 sq. feet). The birds are housed in a cage in one, two, or three rows per cage, in single or double or triple rows.
It has a lot of advantages. A greater number of birds are reared in this method. It facilitates proper record management and helps recognize weak suppliers and prompt culling.
It helps to produce clean eggs and enables fast parasitic disease management, such as coccidiosis and worm infestation. For the region with mild climatic conditions where the day temperature in summer is not high, and the temperature does not sink too low, the cage housing system is suitable.
Caged egg development is more efficient than those kept in the deep litter environment. However, this type of rearing comes with its fair share of inconveniences. There are difficulties in ensuring proper ventilation of birds, especially in the summer season and under very high-density conditions.
The occurrence of leg issues, exhaustion of the cage layer, fatty liver disease, flies, and obnoxious gases increases in the cage system. Due to cage fatigue, leg weakness is usual in caged birds.
Deep Litter System
In this method, poultry birds are housed in large stalls of up to 250 birds filled with litter such as grass, sawdust, or leaves up to 8-12 inches deep each on the surface.
Primarily, this method is used for broilers in poultry farming. Farmers with sufficient space prefer this kind of culture because there is no cage and floor structure possible here. The deep litter method is widely used across the globe.
It is fruitful because it is economically productive. This method is hygienic, cozy, and healthy for birds. The built-up litter provides birds with vitamin B12 and riboflavin. Moreover, it also controls vices and illnesses and improves output values.
Materials such as paddy husks can be used as litter materials, sawdust, dried leaf, chopped straw, and groundnut kernels, depending on supply.
It is essential to consider a few points while adopting the deep litter system. The deep litter system must be kept dry. There should be enough ventilation on the farm.
The litter should be promptly supplemented with fresh dry litter, and you must feed birds a healthy feed. The deep litter method can commence in the dry cycle of the year as it provides ample time for bacterial activity (at least two months).
Other tips on Poultry Rearing
Size of the flock
Under market conditions, bigger units are more economical than smaller models. For commercial egg production, a unit of 2000 layers is typically considered to be economical. A unit intake of 250 chicks per week is viable in the case of broilers.
Purchase chicks with the highest rating. No amount of good leadership will transform low-quality chicks into good broilers or layers. In a commercial unit, you can make more benefits by procuring day-old pullet chicks. Straight-run chicks will deliver similarly good productivity in broiler units.
Random sample poultry performance test
In four places, the government of India has set up random sample test units for layers and broilers, i.e., Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi, and Bhubaneswar. The test results are released annually and provide details on the success under similar conditions of different strains and breeds of chicken. Such knowledge will assist in selecting the stock.
Newly hatched chicks need extra heat before they grow feathers. The brooding cycle is typically up to the age of 4-5 weeks and a little longer in the cold season. It is possible to carry out artificial brooding in deep waste houses or electrically powered brooder batteries.
The common heat source used is electricity. The need for extra heating for chicks declines as they mature. As measured by a thermometer, you should test warmth every day at 5 cm (2 inches) above floor level.
From the moment when the chicks no longer need extra warmth, you may remove additional lights. You can give dim light for broiler chicks during the night with a 40-watt bulb for every 250 chicks.
You can use new and well-established indoor areas with improved scientific welfare practices to attain maximum economic benefits from poultry production. You should take proper training before starting the poultry farm.