Tighten management in tightened industry
GEORGETOWN, Del. — A tightening in the poultry industry is pushing growers to be more productive.
While integrators may help less well-performing growers with a producer improvement plan, all growers can look for ways to be more efficient, said University of Delaware Extension poultry agent Georgie Cartanza.
Working with growers on Delmarva, Cartanza encourages them to keep a rolling six-flock history and be aware of what losing the oldest flock does to that average.
“Being mindful of that six-flock is critical in where you stand,” she said.
Cartanza said in her experience, the better performing growers “are really good at the basics.” Being conscious of what’s going on in the house, they are able to catch issues sooner and correct problems.
Cartanza’s suggestion for a self-imposed improvement plan starts with getting back to the fundamentals.
Those include feed availability, water quality, litter management, house lighting and air quality.
Growers don’t control the quality of the feed that the birds eat but can control it’s availability in the house, Cartanza said.
Keeping feed available to birds improves feed conversion and weight gain, Cartanza said, especially in the first two weeks of a new flock, in what she called the cheapest period of weight gain during the growout cycle.
For another perspective, Cartanza said losing a teaspoon per pan per day equals 0.01 point of feed conversion at the end of the flock.
Keeping water available is just as important.
“They’re going to drink twice as much water as feed they eat,” she said.
Cartanza said she tells growers not to make too many assumptions about the water flowing though drinker lines for the birds.
Growers in an antibiotic free growing program should monitor the water’s pH and treat it if necessary to keep it close to 5 on the pH scale to help control coccidiosis, which can lead to necrotic enteritis.
A more acidic pH makes a less hospitable gut for the parasite to thrive.
Cartanza said some farms she has worked with had water testing at 8 and 9 on the pH scale before treating it with citric acid or Poultry Water Treatment.
“It really seems like it’s been helpful,” she said.
Growers don’t control chick quality but do control air quality to provide the best environment to grow.
Air quality and litter management go hand in hand, Cartanza said, with the main goals of controlling ammonia and humidity in the house.
“It’s a living environment,” she said of the litter. “As soon as that last flock moves, litter conditioning needs to begin.
“The house doesn’t start to rest until you’ve conditioned that litter.”
While integrators with have different lighting programs, the basics are the same: Even distribution, and the right intensity to stimulate bird’s weight gain.
Consistency and limiting stress is key to good performance, Cartanza said.
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