As a poultry farmer, keeping birds healthy should always be your priority. Why, because healthy birds make for better profit. Several factors may want to hinder the possibilities of profitable poultry production. However, it is your responsibility to forestall disease outbreaks on your farm. Here are six important poultry health management guidance to keep your birds healthy.
Choose the Right Type of Birds You Need
In the poultry business, the most crucial decision you have to make is to choose the right breed of birds for the purpose you have in mind. You will need to make an informed decision as to the aspect of poultry you want to venture into as a poultry farmer. For instance, broilers production differs from layer production concerning the length of maturity and expectations. Be careful not to go into the poultry business because of hearsay. Ensure you do your findings well and make informed decisions on the choice of birds you want.
Also, note that not all poultry breeds perform equally well in your environment. Consult an experienced farmer and qualified veterinarian to decide what you want, then make your purchase. Be aware that some farmers rear a particular breed of broilers/layers. However, your experiences with that breed type may not necessarily be the same as theirs and may not be obtainable with you. So, learn to ask questions and join online forums to know more.
Set Up a Conducive Housing System
Providing safe and comfortable housing for your birds will provide optimal protection from adverse weather conditions. Be sure to plan the type of housing system to suit the choice of birds you want to raise, considering the developmental stages your birds will go through. Birds at day old require more warmth than birds that have come of age while laying birds might require a more ventilated and illuminated enclosure to reduce heat stress in a harsh tropical climate. Keep your poultry house from predators and other hazards like rain, direct sunlight and wind elements. For laying birds, the amount of daylight or artificial light it receives is a factor that influences its productivity. For instance, layers are prompted to lay eggs and mate when the days are long, and they moult when the days start getting shorter.
Invest in Quality Feed
Maintaining a good food source for your birds is another essential poultry health management practice. Do not seek to cut corners and ration feed as the productivity of your birds is a direct reflection of what they eat. Invest in quality feed. If you are compounding your poultry feed, ensure you consult an animal nutritionist to help you balance the daily dietary nutrient requirement in the feed based on the type of birds and their life stages. You might consider adding calcium and mineral-rich additives to enrich the poultry’s diet. Also, improve bone and eggshell quality.
Vaccinate Your Birds to Prevent Disease Outbreaks
Another important poultry health management practice is to properly vaccinate your birds. Infectious diseases are prevalent in the environment, and commercial birds of various breeds and strains are susceptible to disease outbreaks. To this end, vaccination is one of the most important aspects of poultry management. You must ensure you follow the scheduled vaccination programs to prevent disease outbreaks. Although at the hatchery, there are vaccinations for commercial birds against viral agents like the Newcastle and Marek disease virus. However, you must still make sure you administer other vaccines (Live/attenuated) to prevent several other diseases.
Practice Good Management
As a poultry farmer who wants to enjoy year-round productivity on your farm, you must imbibe best management practices to keep your birds healthy. One of these practices is to ensure that you limit human access to your farm as much as possible. Even if fellow farmers visit, do not let them near your birds. Your birds should not contact wild birds and rodents because they can carry germs and diseases.
Also, keep your environment clean and dry as much as possible. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after feeding or in contact with your birds. It is safe to have a designated overall or protective material (clothes and scrub your shoes with disinfectant) usable only in the pen house. Clean and disinfect pen houses, feeding and drinking troughs, cages and other tools that come in contact with your birds or their droppings. In cases of disease outbreaks, quarantine sick birds in a sickbay, away from the healthy ones, and immediately consult your veterinarian to report and get appropriate medical advice. Lastly, a good poultry health management practice is that you should not return recovered birds to the flock for at least 30 days.
Identify Diseases Early and Observe Biosecurity Measures
Farmers need to know the warning signs of diseases in birds; it will help prevent the spread of disease. These signs may include, among many others, rough feathers, reduced feed intake, depression, recumbency, huddling, closed eyes, respiratory symptoms (such as coughing and sneezing), and watery, greenish diarrhoea.
Other parasitic infections that can affect birds include lice and fleas. These parasites can lead to a massive loss on the farm, and restlessness and severe feather loss characterize their presence in birds. Early disease detection is crucial in disease control and helps save a lot of treatment costs which ultimately reduce the possibility of drug resistance.
As stated earlier, healthy birds make for better profit. These poultry health management tips should help you keep your broiler, layers and turkeys at their peak performance while keeping your farm running smoothly. Keep your flock healthy and happy, and you will have a productive year this 2022 —that’s how it works in poultry farming.