For an accurate assessment of productivity in poultry production, every farmer must understand the importance of weighing scales. This is because by measuring the input and output of production, scales can be used in the economic analysis of a farm to determine the overall profitability.
Weighing Ingredients and Feeds
Scales can make or mar the quality of feed products hence, accurate scales for weighing feed ingredients are essential for feed formulation. It is for this reason that periodic calibration of scales is compulsory in a feed mill. The weight of raw materials for feed production must reconcile with that of the feed produced and the production loss of ingredients during milling activity should not exceed the normal range of 0.5%.
Also, as feed is one of the main cost items on the poultry farm, feed scale allows farmers to deliver the right amount of feed to the birds. With this, it is easy to detect symptoms of diseases that have to do with changes in the feeding patterns of birds.
Weighing Poultry Birds
Monitoring the weights of poultry birds from day-old is an essential management tool in poultry farming, and this calls for all commercial poultry farmers to own weighing scales.
Also, any poultry farmer keeping broiler or layer breeders must check the weight development of his birds. Too high or too low weights always harm the production results and also mean that the farmer is not taking full advantage of the birds’ genetic potential, which in turn influences the farm’s profits negatively.
With weighing scales that generate a high level of accuracy, you can detect any abnormal growth rate fluctuation in your broilers, layers, ducks and turkeys.
Also, knowing what your broilers weigh on a day to day basis is essential if you want to get them to market age on the target weight in the best, most cost-effective way. Important parameters to measure includes
- The minimum weight per day
- Maximum weight per day
- An average weight
- Weight growth etc.
In weighing layers, it is important to note that;
- Weekly measurement is not advised in actively laying birds since it can cause stress especially in very hot days but it can be done in cases of unexplained reduction in production.
- A sample of about 5 to 10% of the flock, taken from different points of the pen randomly, will do.
- Remember, the best weights for egg production in layers is between 1.6kg to 2.0kg. So do not expect bird below 1.5kg to lay and those above 2.2kg are tending to the obesity point which is associated with issues like prolapse.
- In case of disease, stress, change in quality and quantity of feed etc, a bird can lose around 50g to 100g per week sending it to a level in weight where it cannot lay any egg. This has been the case for many experiencing serious production declines.
In weighing broilers, note that;
- Daily measurement will help you ensure the daily Live Weight Gain (LWG) is on target.
- Young broilers can be weighed in groups of tens or twenties depending on the age and size of the scales you used to weigh them.
- Manually measure the average weight of the entire flock by weighing the container full of birds, then subtracting the weight of the container empty and dividing this by the number of birds in the container. Bigger broilers need to be weighed individually.
- Automatic measurement allows for large numbers to be weighed, with better estimate daily, easy monitoring and less stress for birds.
Although weighing eggs and monitoring changes in egg weight might not seem a priority, it is vital in monitoring trends in bodyweight. Egg weight and changes in egg weight can often be an early indicator of less than optimum nutrition intake.
A change in egg weight will be noted before an effect on production occurs. A drop in a bird’s egg weights implies inadequate nutrition, while over-feeding and excess nutrient intake will lead to a rise in egg weight.
Using daily egg weight in conjunction with bodyweight trends provides a poultry farmer with information which will allow any issues to be detected early, thereby aiding accurate management decisions of bird feed allocation during production.
Types of Scales
There are two basic types of Scales;
They provide the weight of the currently weighed bird and can only be manual. Weighing takes more time and getting the accurate weight of a moving bird is never as good as with electronic scales.
Digital scales are designed especially for live bids and have special hooks and platforms that allow for stress-free, faster and easier weighing. Records such as the exact date and time of weighing, the number of birds measured are with high accuracy. Digital scales can be manual or automatic.
Manual scales are portable, battery-driven devices that you can take with you anywhere you like. Using a manual scale means choosing a sample and putting them one by one on the weighing system. The weighing must be done at least once a week.
An automatic scale is installed at one place amongst the birds can consist of the scale itself and a hanging platform that the birds jump onto. The scale registers each increase and decrease in weight and records them automatically. The automatic scale weighs continuously 24 hours a day. Though the cost of acquisition is higher, it can save lots of money on labour costs.
Mechanical and Digital Scales can be of the following types:
Bench Scale: It is for high-precision weighing applications. It weighs one bird at a time and can give reasonably accurate estimates of the average weight. The scale has to be empty of birds before the next bird weight is recorded.
Floor/Platform Scale: They are perfect for an accurate weighing solution that combines a basic scale platform and indicator. The scale platform features a nonslip tread-plate surface that provides safe footing. The indicator handles a variety of weighing operations and can provide accurate, reliable weighing.
Hanging Scale: It comprises of a large round platform suspended via load cell and electronics from the ceiling and is designed for weighing live birds starting from day-old. The platform is fixed in the centre which enables the birds to get on and off from all directions. Weight is recorded when a bird gets off the scale. It produces more valid recorded weights than floor scales so the estimated average is better.
In conclusion, to exercise management control in poultry production, there is a need to have accurate management information. By keeping records of the weight of birds and the weight of feed they eat, decrease in body weight and feed consumption as well as when meat birds have reached uneconomical rates of feed consumption, can be spotted. Without this information, you may not even know there is a problem until it may be too late to do anything about it.
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