Housing Expensive housing and equipments are not necessary.However, a clean, dry structure that can be wellventilated, a brooder or heat lamps to warm the chicksand feeding and watering equipment are needed. Provide at least 2 square feet of floor space per broiler. Openings on three sides of the building provide plentyof fresh air for the birds. Plastic sheeting can be used toclose sides during brooding and in cold weather. Makecertain the concrete or dirt floor is at least 6 inchesabove ground level to prevent flooding. The roof overhang should be sufficient to effectivelyprotect against blowing rain.
Preparation and Brooding Clean and disinfect the poultry house, feeders and waterers atleast two weeks before the chicks arrive. Wash the house down with soap and water. Then spray acommercial disinfectant labeled for use in poultry houses. Be prepared for the chicks 2 days in advance. Put at least 4inches of litter on the floor of the cleaned, disinfected house. If a gas or an electric hover-type brooder is used, itshould operate at a temperature of approximately 92 degrees to 95degrees F. Gradually reduce the temperature 5 degrees each weekuntil the birds are 3 to 4 weeks old or until the housetemperature reaches 70 degrees F. When chicks are comfortable, they will bed down in a semicirclearound the perimeter of the heat zone. If cold, chicks will crowdnear the heat source. If too warm, they will move to the outerlimits of the brooder guard. Chilling can stunt chicks. In cold weather the heat source shouldbe turned on 48 hours before chicks arrive to adequately heat thelitter.
Rearing After birds reach 4 weeks of age, the idealtemperature range is 60 to 75 degrees F. When winter temperatures permit, the houseshould be partially opened to improve airflowand remove moisture. Supplemental heat may beneeded when the outside temperture is low. In hot weather, fans or evaporative coolers areused to cool birds more than 4 weeks old.
Feeding Optimum performance is dependent on propernutrition. The feed dealer should be informed of thetype of feed required at least 2 weeks before chicksarrive so that fresh feed can be ordered. It is absolutelyessential that birds receive a high-quality poultry feedcontaining at least 20 percent protein. Lower proteinfeeds will not do the job. Some exhibitors start chickson a high-protein (26 to 30 percent) turkey or gamebird starter to stimulate additional growth. Feed thehigher protein feed for 2 weeks. Switch to a broiler feedfor the remaining feeding period.
feed containing at least 20 percent protein. Lower protein feedswill not do the job. Some exhibitors start chicks on a high-protein (26 to 30 percent) turkey or game bird starter tostimulate additional growth. Feed the higher protein feed for 2weeks. Switch to a broiler feed for the remaining feeding period. Small amounts of broiler feed lightly moistened with cooking oiland fed several times during the day will stimulate older birds toeat more and increase growth. This supplemental feedingpractice can be particularly helpful in hot weather with birdsmore than 4 weeks of age. Caution: Do not put out moremoistened feed than the birds can eat in 10 to 15 minutes. Donot moisten the feed until feeding time. Be certain all birds caneat at the same time. An adequate level of vitamins in the diet is required to preventleg weakness. Adequate vitamin intake can be ensured and legproblems minimized by adding water soluble poultry vitamins todrinking water at the manufacturer‟s recommended level for thefirst 7 days. Do not add vitamins past this period. Continuedhigh levels can create health problems
All birds should be able to eat at once. One pie or cookie pan forfeed and one chick waterer per 25 chicks are needed the first 7days. For the first 4 weeks, one tube-type feeder per 25 birds isrequired. After 4 weeks, one tube-type feeder is needed for every15 birds. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times. One 2-gallon waterer per 50 chicks is required for the first 4 weeks. One2-gallon waterer per pen is required after birds are culled at theend of the fourth week. Waterers should be rinsed daily andscrubbed twice weekly. Feed must be kept before birds at all times if maximum growthis to be attained. Tube feeders are recommended because theyhold an ample supply of feed, can be adjusted easily as birdsgrow and are less likely to cause bruises than horizontal troughfeeders. Feeders and waterers should be kept adjusted so that thetrough portion is level with the back height of the birds. Broilers and roasters respond to attention. Walk among birdsand stir feed three to five times per day. This will provideexercise and increase feed consumption and growth.
Drinking Systems Water must be available to broilers at all times. Inadequate watersupply, either in volume or available drinker space, will reducegrowth rate. Monitor the ratio of water to feed consumption toensure that the flock is receiving sufficient water. Measure water consumption to monitor:* Feed and water system failures.* Health.* Performance. At 21°C (70°F), the ratio of water to feed should be close to:*1.8:1 for bell drinkers.•* 1.6:1 for • nipple drinkers without cups.*1.7:1 for • nipple drinkers with cups. Water requirement will vary with feed consumption.
Feather Picking and Cannibalism Snub the top beaks of birds if feather picking orcannibalism starts. Trim one-third of the upperbeak with an electric beak snubber. An anti-peck compound applied to the bloodypecked spots will usually stop cannibalism ifsnubbing is not feasible.
For best broiler performance, it is important to deliverthe chicks to the broiler farm as quickly as possible andfeed them immediately. Provide chicks with the properenvironment and correctly manage them to meet all oftheir requirements. During the first 10 days of life, the chicks‟ environmentchanges from the hatchery to the broiler house. Bothcurrent and final flock performance will suffer fromdeficiencies in the early environment. Chicks mustestablish healthy feeding and drinking behaviors if theyare to achieve their genetic potential for growth. A series of critical transitions in the first 7 to 10 days ofthe chick‟s life affect how and from where it receives itsnutrients. This is why the management in this period isso essential for optimum flock performance.
Managing environmental impacts duringproduction The extent to which a meat chicken farm impacts on the surroundingenvironment largely depends upon the management techniques applied. Awell sited, designed and managed farm should have few impacts tocommunity amenity (odour, dust, noise, light, and visual) and theenvironment (water and soil). Generally, odour is the most important issue associated with meat chickenfarms as its impacts are frequently more extensive. Even if the design includesbest practice shed insulation, ventilation, cooling, drinking systems andautomated controls, poor management can easily offset these positive aspectsand lead to excessive odour emissions. Noise can be an issue at some farms, especially where pick-ups occur at nightwhen the noise tends to travel further, background levels are lower andneighbours have an expectation that noise will not disturb their sleep.
Meat chicken farms are not significant sources of wastewater. However, dustfallout may contaminate watercourses either directly or by being washed in byrunoff. Hence, it is important to ensure that watercourses are isolated fromany areas where significant dust fallout occurs. If farms spread spent litter on-farm then specific management practices are required to minimise anyimpacts.Shed Preparation - Bedding The type of clean bedding used will depend on the availability and price ofproducts, but it should have the following attributes: Dry Highly absorbent Rapidly drying Remains friable Contain no matter which will restrict use of the end product (litter) on land
Best Management Practicerecommendations: Bedding is dry and level. New bedding is of sufficient depth (typically 50mm) to keep the birds from contact with the floor and provide warmth and comfort. Bedding is transported to farm and installed insheds during daylight hours. If stockpiled, bedding is kept under cover in anarea that limits its impact on neighbours.
Ventilation, Temperature and Humidity Correct temperature and humidity relative to the age of the birds are criticalfor the welfare and efficient rearing of meat chickens. These must bemaintained in accordance with the Broiler Growing Manual. Tunnel ventilated sheds can be operated using the three modes of ventilation:· Minimum Ventilatio· Transitional Ventilation· Tunnel Ventilation. Each of these should be used at the appropriate stage of the bird‟s life and inthe context of the climatic challenge and bird requirements in accordancewith the Broiler Growing Manual. Internal curtains may also be used duringbrooding to assist in maintaining the required temperature. Conventional sheds rely on wind flow and fogging to regulate temperatures. Power ventilation is integral for the operation of both tunnel andconventional sheds to maintain the necessary bird environment and mayoperate 24/7 depending on the age of the birds.
Brooder Management Two basic systems of temperature control are used for brooding broilerchicks: Spot • brooding (canopy or radiant heaters). The heat source is local so chickscan move away to cooler areas and thus select for themselves a preferredtemperature. Whole-house • brooding. The heat source is larger and more widely spread sochicks are less able to move to select a preferred temperature. Whole-housebrooding refers to situations where the whole house or a defined part of thehouse is heated by „forced air heaters‟ only and the aim is to achieve onetemperature in the house or air space. In both spot and whole-house brooding systems, the objective is to stimulateboth appetite and activity as early as possible. Achieving the optimumtemperature is critical
Best Management Practicerecommendations: Maximum and minimum temperature is recorded daily on the shed recordcards and HACCP sheets as required. The shed is pre warmed in winter to suit the birds‟ requirements and also insummer if needed in accordance with the Broiler Growing Manual. Shed temperature is adjusted as the birds grow in accordance with the BroilerGrowing Manual. Humidity is maintained between 50% and 70% Relative Humidity to optimisebird comfort.When operating tunnel ventilation mode: Fans and cooling systems are operated so as to optimise bird comfort inaccordance with the Broiler Growing Manual. Cooling Pads are sanitised with a Quaternary compound or other approveddisinfectant, applied to the sump in accordance to the manufacturersrecommendations or the processor‟s biosecurity requirements.
Lighting Lights are operated inside sheds for management and animalwelfare purposes in accordance with the Broiler Growing Manual. Theability to manage light intensity is important to bird welfare and is variedaccording to the birds‟ age and the operations being undertaken within shedsusingcontrollers and dimmers. Outdoor lighting is used to facilitate nightoperations and security..Best Management Practice recommendations: Lighting program is operated in accordance with Broiler Growing Manual. Throughout the batch lights are maintained in order to provide even lightdistribution. One row of lights is located in the centre of each shed and is able to bedimmed to allow for safe night time pickups. Shade cloth, blinds (black internal surface), shrubs and trees are used tominimise light in open sheds and so reduce scratching mortality. The impact of light on neighbours is minimised through shading of lights andcareful operation. Energy efficient lighting is used wherever possible.
Litter management in the shed Best Management Practice of litter material is integral to a well-operatedchicken meat farm. It has implications for both the health of the flock and fordust and odour levels. Factors affecting litter quality are shown in Figure 1below.
The moisture content of the poultry litter needs to be monitored regularlywith the aim of maintaining it between 15 and 30 per cent. The litter moisturelevel is relatively easy to estimate with a reasonable degree of accuracy byusing Table 2. For greater accuracy use a low-cost moisture meter.
Best Management Practicerecommendations: A vendor declaration is received from the bedding supplier certifying thematerial provided is free of contamination (such as, but not restricted to,treated pine) and this is kept with the batch records. Shed floors are constructed of an impermeable material. The use ofimpermeable hard surfaces such as concrete offer benefits with respect tocleaning and disinfection. If the floor is constructed of compacted earth, thenit is important to ensure the floor is level and repaired if necessary beforebedding is spread to ensure at least 50mm of uncompacted bedding materialis evenly distributed in all areas of the shed.The amount of bedding requiredand supplied in each shed is recorded on the batch card. Litter moisture content is visually monitored daily in each shed, withparticular emphasis on likely high moisture areas (e.g. around the air inlet,near drinkers). Litter moisture content is maintained between 15% and 30% (wet basis).Assess moisture levels in each shed on a weekly basis at equally spaced pointsalong and across the shed (such as: three points under the drinker lines; threepoints between the drinker lines; three points near the shed wall).
Areas of wet or caked litter within the shed are topped up, aerated (rotaryhoed) to enhance drying or the wet litter is removed and replaced. Foggers must be maintained and operated to avoid coarse drops that fall tothe floor. The misted water should evaporate before reaching the floor so asnot to wet the litter. Fans and ventilation management must be used in cold weather in a mannerthat will avoid moist incoming air condensing on the floor next to the wallcausing wet cold litter. Heaters should be used if necessary to maintain targettemperature. Ammonia level in sheds is controlled for both bird and human health byensuring they are consistently below levels where they can be detected bysmell (10 – 15 ppm). (When ammonia levels cause irritation (> 25 ppm)immediate action must be taken to reduce levels by reducing litter moisturecontent and/or increasing ventilation). When ventilating to remove ammonia from the shed, temperature andhumidity must be maintained to a standard appropriate to the age of thebirds. Excessive dust generation is controlled by fogging the shed when required. Gut problems in birds can cause wet litter, and immediate action must betaken to identify and, if possible, eliminate these problems.
Vaccination Vaccination alone cannot protect flocks against overwhelmingdisease challenges and poor management practices. Develop vaccination programs for broilers in consultation with •trained poultry veterinarians. Vaccination is more effective when disease challenges areminimized through well-designed and implemented biosecurityand management programs. Base vaccination programs on local • disease challenges andvaccine availability. Every bird must receive the intended dose of vaccine.• Breeder flock vaccination programs must be factored into the •design of an appropriate vaccination program for broilerprogeny.
Dead Birds Dead birds result from a range of routine disease, with the largest number ofdeaths usually occurring in younger very small birds. Mass death events mayalso occur due to catastrophic equipment failure or significant disease events.This section deals with the safe dispose of dead birds resulting from routineoperations. Animal waste is defined in the Act as including “…dead animals, animal parts andany mixture of dead animals and animal parts.” Animal waste is pre-classified asGeneral Solid Waste (Putrescibles). This means that the disposal of dead birdsto land would require a resource recovery exemption or will need to besubject to an Environment Protection Licence. Carcass disposal practicesmust not contaminate ground and surface water, cause odour nuisance, or land contamination as per the provisions of the POEO Act.Poor management of dead and or diseased birds could also increasebiosecurity risks. Best management practice for the treatment of dead birds requires the dailycollection from the shed and removal from the farm for rendering (if the farmis located close to rendering plants). If farms do not have ready access torendering plants the next preferred method of disposal is composting.
Best Management Practicerecommendations: Farm practices for dead bird management and disposal complywith the National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Chicken Growers(Australian Chicken Meat Federation 2010). Dead birds are disposed of or stored appropriately (for example,frozen) within 24 hours of dying. Where there is regular offsite removal of dead birds, the birds arecollected daily, placed in an enclosed container and either takenoff-site or stored in freezers until collection. A contingency plan is in place for disposal of mass birdmortalities (for example, from endemic disease, heat stress orexotic disease)
Off-site Disposal Rendering involves the removal of dead birds off farm. It islimited by economies of scale and is only viable if a renderingplant is located close by. Transport to a licensed waste facilityrequiresprior discussion with the local waste facility manager. Birds may also be temporarily stored on site and subject toagreement of the facility managerdisposed of to an authorised site such as a commercial compostingfacility or landfill.
Best Management Practicerecommendations: Dead birds are stored in specifically designed pick up containers with securelids and taken off-site daily or stored in freezers until collection. Collection point is in a designated area located as far away from theoperational area of the farm and from adjoining residences as possible. Itshould also be appropriately screened orsignposted. Ideally the collection vehicle should not enter the production area. Provide adequate room for stopping and loading. A contingency plan (e.g. short-term freezing) for situations where mortalitiescannot be collected promptly is developed and maintained. Any spillage in collection areas is immediately cleaned and decontaminated.Regular cleaning and disinfection of carcass storage containers and thecollection area is also undertaken to minimise the spread of disease by flies Records are maintained of collection (date and mass). Personnel disposing of dead birds should be instructed on the need tomaintain personalhygiene.
On-site DisposalComposting in Sealed Bins The composting of dead birds and litter should be conducted ona concrete slab or other suitably impermeable material andcovered by a roof. These measures are designed to preventcontamination of ground or surface waters or the surroundingarea and to achieve the necessary temperatures for destruction ofpathogenic bacteria and viruses.Composting in Bays and Piles If performed correctly, composting carcasses in open bays andpiles is an environmentally and biologically safe alternative.However, these facilities require correct design and managementto avoid any bio-security and odour issues.
Best Management Practicerecommendations: The design of any on site composting systems complies withCouncil regulations and the Environmental Guidelines Composting andRelated Organics (DECC 2004). The size of the compost bins is sufficient to more than managethe predicted volume of routine dead birds during productioncycles. Additional capacity should exist to manage periodicfluctuations, but additional disposal methods will be required fora mass death event. Compost bins are located to; as far as possible from propertyboundaries and sensitive land uses and are preferable out ofpublic view. To minimise biosecurity risks they should also belocated away from production areas and sheds. Any composting bins are sealed and are regularly serviced andmaintained.
Compost pads are located on an impermeable pad (i.econcrete or similar material). Any leachate is collectedand managed via drains/ponds with impermeableliners. Rodents, cats, dogs, feral animals, scavenging birds areexcluded from composting carcasses. Minimise the presence of flies in dead bird collectionand disposal areas by ensuring bird sare not leftuncovered. Personnel disposing of dead birds should be instructedon the need to maintain personal hygiene.
Burial Burial is an economical option and can be appropriate on some sites whereother options are not feasible. Not all soil types or locations are suitable foron-site burial, for instance areas with a high risk of water table contaminationor shallow soils. Dead bird disposal via burial may also not be appropriate inmore closely settled areas and on smaller properties where there is a higherrisk of odour or of predation by domestic animals: Consult with localregulatory authorities before considering this option. Best Management Practice recommendations: The bottom of the trench or pit is at least 3 metres above the maximumground water table. Burial cells should be lined with a modified soil or clay liner of at least 900mmof recompacted clay with in-situ permeability (K) of less than 10-9 ms-1 or anequivalent synthetic liner product. The liner must cover the base and all sidesof the burial cell, so that the ground water is protected from contamination.The final cover is at least 1 metre of compacted clay soil. The trench or pitmust be covered daily to contain odours and exclude pests The trench or pit is designed so that there is no surface or sub-surfaceseepage and no surface water entering. Burial sites are located out of public view.
IncinerationWhile incineration is biologically the safest carcass disposal method,it is not the preferred practice for the following reasons: It must to be performed efficiently, consistently and effectivelyto ensure completeincineration and to avoid odour andparticulate nuisance complaints. Appropriate incineration is expensive. It requires specificapproval and use of specifically designed and authorisedincineration equipment. The process eliminates the nutrients and organic matter that canbe beneficially re-used. Burning carcasses in open fires is unacceptable, as this createssmoke and odour and is unlikely to maintain a sufficiently highand consistent temperature. It is also a biosecurity hazard asthermal updraughts may disperse feathers and other matter.
Management of Extremes andEmergencies Extremes and emergencies on a meat chicken farm (i.e. duringhigh temperatures, loss of power and/or water supply) mayresult in mass bird losses. Farms must assess risks for theiroperation and have contingency plans in place to deal with thesecircumstances to avoid mass bird deaths, welfare issues, impactsto surface and groundwater and the spread of disease vectors. The highest risk is interruption to the power supply.Failure of Power and/or Water Supply Power supply problems that result in interruptions to ventilationand cooling equipment can result in mass bird deaths.
Best Management Practicerecommendations: Warning systems are installed to notify operator of power orwater supply failure. Back up power supply is available, with adequate fuel supply. Standby generators are regularly run (at least weekly) to ensurethey are working effectively. An adequate supply of spare parts is kept on hand (such as waterpump for the cooling or drinker system). Potential noise impacts are addressed during the installation ofstandby generators by installing mufflers and consideringacoustic screening. A back-up supply (tanks) or contingency for at least two dayswater is provided in case of breakdown or loss of supply (at least2 litres per bird).
Mass Mortality Event Farms require a contingency plan to cope withoccurrences of high mortalities. The disposal optionsavailable for a mass death of birds depend upon thecause of death. Disposal options may include: Burial on-farm. Disposal in a land-fill site. Rendering. Composting. Incinerating.
In the event of mass deaths the farm operator must immediatelycontact the processor. This will enable an investigation toascertain the cause of death and the best option for the disposalof the dead birdsBest Management Practice recommendations: Processor is notified and, when appropriate, the processor willnotify the relevant authority. Farms have a written contingency plan for disposal of massmortalities. A current contingency plan is maintained and displayed, and isavailable to all staff. All staff are aware of their responsibilities should a massmortality event occur.
A systematic approach is helpful whentroubleshooting health issues on the farm.These are the things to look at: Feed: availability, consumption, distribution, palatability, nutri• tional content,contaminants and toxins, and withdrawal. Light: adequate for efficient • growth and development, uniform exposureand intensity. Litter: moisture level, • ammonia level, pathogen load, toxins andcontaminants, depth, material used, distribution. Air: speed, contaminants and toxins, • humidity, temperature, availability,barriers. Water: source, contaminants and toxins, additives, availability, • pathogenload, consumption. Space: bird density, feed availability, water availability, limiting obstacles,limiting equipment. Sanitation: • hygiene of premises (inside and outside of house), pest control,maintenance, cleaning and disinfection practices. Security: biosecurity risks.