BROILERS PRODUCTION WITHOUT TEARS Part 1
Modern Broilers are reared within very short period of 5-8weeks to attain desired or targeted bodyweight. Broiler production is very capital intensive. The cost of rearing broiler including feed, DOC, drugs etc is on the high side, leaving only very marginal profit for the farmer.
Making profit in broiler production is dependent on 3 important factors: Feed conversion rate, bodyweight gain and %mortality. Experience has shown that having mortality above 5% of the flock will result into reduced or total loss of profit while mortality above 10% will make it difficult to realise the capital invested.
A wise broiler farmer must work closely with poultry veterinarian to ensure mortalities during rearing is put under check and its not close to 5%. One sure way to prevent high mortality is to be meticulous with observance of poultry health management principles: Optimum biosecurity, early disease detection and timely disease management
Apart from mortalities in later part of rearing caused by bacteria, viral and protozoan infection due to poor management, most mortalities in broilers usually occur in the first 7 days. Mortalities in the first 3 days are more related to DOC quality, transportation conditions and stress, but after 3 days the mortality rate is dependent on brooding quality.
The mortality pattern from 3days to few weeks gives you a clear signal on your management quality. Thus, mortality in the first few weeks is quality of the breeding flock, hatching conditions and quality of care received during brooding. The health status of broiler and quality of their immunity is dependent on the quality of care during brooding.
It is essential to remove dead birds as soon as possible and cause of death determined via studying conditions of death of the broilers, close observation of the flock and laboratory analysis. Mortality due to accident must be distinguised from infection of the flock. Broiler farm owner must work closely with their veterinarian for early detection of danger and prompt management.
As a guide there are some characteristics of death position in broiler which could be suggestive of probable cause but ultimate diagnosis of cause of death is dependent on thorough examination and laboratory analysis
Dead broiler lying on the stomach or back: This has been found to be due to metabolic disorder with a high incidence between 3 and 5 weeks.
Dead broiler lying on the back with wings splayed and often with one foot or the two feet in the air: This is called sudden death syndrome (flip-over disease). Its also a metabolic problem that can result in huge loss from 3weeks and above. The heart of the birds suddenly stops and the birds jump and died lying on the back.
Dead broilers that is well developed, with full crop: This often occur in older broiler due to heart related problem. Broilers are very prone to heart related problem due to their feed composition, fat accumulation and rearing techniques.
Dead broiler with moderate to poor condition and abdomen full of liquid: This is due to ascites and usually seen from 3 weeks of age. Poor ventilation with high carbon dioxide accumulation in pen house and heat stress could be the predisposing factor.
Dead broilers lying on the stomach, neck forward and feet back: This has been found to be caused often by choking. The choking could be due to viral or bacteria respiratory infection or severe reaction to vaccination.
Dead broiler in seal position: lying on the stomach with feet back, neck stretched, beak slightly open and often with a morsel of litter in the beak: This could be due to overdose of some anti-coccidial agents or necrotic enteritis.
High mortalities in broilers production is avoidable if quality DOC are stocked and given best management practice accompanied by principle of poultry health management under supervision of an experienced poultry veterinarian.
Iskiil O. Oyenekan, DVM, Msc
CEO, Komplete Vetcare Consult
Abeokuta, Ogun State