There are a number of “requirements” by which animals should be managed so that the best performance is achieved in a way acceptable to those responsible for the care of the animals and to the community generally. These requirements are the keys to good management and may be used to test the management of a poultry enterprise in relation to the standard of its management. These requirements may be called principles.
The importance of each Principle changes with the situation and thus the emphasis placed on each may alter from place to place and from time to time. This means that, while the Principles do not change, the degree of emphasis and method of application may change. Every facet of the poultry operation should be tested against the relevant principle(s). The Principles of Poultry Husbandry are:
If the enterprise is to be successful it is necessary to use stock known to be of good quality and of the appropriate genotype for the commodity to be produced in the management situation to be used. The obvious first decision is to choose meat type for meat production and an egg type for egg production. However, having made that decision, it is then necessary to analyse the management situation and market to select a genotype suits that management situation and/or produces a commodity suitable for that market. A good example is that of brown eggshells. If the market requires eggs to have brown shells, the genotype selected must be a brown shell layer. Another example would be to choose a genotype best suited for use in a tropical environment. The manager must know in detail the requirements of the situation and then select a genotype best suited to that situation.
There are three requirements that the poultry house must satisfy. The following are of major importance in achieving a high standard of production efficiency:
Confining the birds will provide a number of advantages:
Importantly, the confinement of the birds at higher stocking densities has a number of disadvantages also including:
A harsh environment is one outside of the comfort range of the birds. In this context high and low temperature, high humidity in some circumstances, excessively strong wind, inadequate ventilation and/or air movement and high levels of harmful air pollutants such as ammonia are examples of a harsh environment. Much effort is made in designing and building poultry houses that will permit the regulation of the environment to a significant degree.
It is the responsibility of management responsible for the day-to-day management of the birds, to ensure that the environment control systems are operated as efficiently as possible. This will require a good knowledge of the different factors that constitute the environment and how they interact with each other to produce the actual conditions in the house and, more importantly, what can be done to improve the house environment.
A good poultry house has to satisfy the welfare needs of the birds. These needs vary with the class, age and housing system. Failure to satisfy these needs will, in many cases, result in lower performance from the birds. These needs include:
The presence of disease in the poultry flock is reflected in inferior performance and it is a must that the flock is in good health if their performance is to approach their potential. There are three elements of good health management of a poultry flock. These are:
The prevention of disease is a much more economical way of health management than waiting for the flock to become diseased before taking appropriate action. There are a number of factors that are significant in disease prevention. These are:
One of the first skills that should be learned by the poultry flock manager is to be able to tell when all is not well with the stock. Frequent inspections looking for signs of sickness are required. It is accepted that all birds should be inspected every day as a first task on the farm for signs of ill health, injury and harassment. At the same time feeders, drinkers and other equipment can be checked for serviceability. If a problem has developed since the last inspection, appropriate action can be taken in a timely manner.
If a disease should infect a flock, early treatment may mean the difference between a mild outbreak and a more serious one. It is important that the correct treatment be used as soon as possible. This can only be achieved when the correct diagnosis has been made at an early stage. While there are times when appropriate treatment can be recommended as a result of a field diagnosis i.e. a farm autopsy, it is best if all such diagnoses be supported by a laboratory examination to confirm the field diagnosis and to ensure that other conditions are not being masked by that originally diagnosed. When treating stock it is important that the treatment be administered correctly and at the recommended concentration or dose rate. Always read the instructions carefully and follow them.
Diets may be formulated for each class of stock under various conditions of management, environment and production level. The diet specification to be used to obtain economic performance in any given situation will depend on factors such as:
Maximising production is not necessarily the most profitable strategy to use because the additional cost required providing the diet that will give maximum production might be greater than the value of the increase in production gained. A lower quality diet, while resulting in lower production may bring in greatest profit because of the significantly lower feed costs. Also the food given to a flock must be appropriate for that class of stock – good quality food for one class of bird will quite likely be unsuitable for another.
The following are key aspects in relation to the provision of a quality diet:
The term “stockpersonship” is difficult to define because it often means different things to different people. However, “stockpersonship” may be defined as: the harmonious interaction between the stock and the person responsible for their daily care. There is no doubt that some stock people can, under identical conditions, obtain much better performance than can others. The basis of good stockpersonship is having a positive attitude and knowledge of the needs and behaviour of the stock under different circumstances, of management techniques and a willingness to spend time with the stock to be able to react to any adverse situations as they develop to keep stress to a minimum. Having the right attitude is also a very important element. The stockperson who spends as much time as possible with the stock from day old onwards – moving among them, handling them and talking to them will grow a much quieter bird that reacts less to harassment, is more resistant to disease and performs better.
There are available for use by stockpersons a number of different management techniques that, while not essential for the welfare of the stock, do result in better performance. Examples of these are the regulation of day length, the management of live weight for age and of flock uniformity. The good manager will utilise these techniques when ever possible to maximise production efficiency and hence profitability.
There are two types of records that need be kept on a poultry enterprise:
For records to be of use in the management of the enterprise, they must be complete, current and accurate, be analysed and then used in the decision making process. Failure to use them means that all of the effort to gather the information will have been wasted and performance not monitored. As a result many problems that could have been fixed before they cause irreparable harm may not be identified until too late.
There are three important elements to good marketing practice:
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