Broiler chicks need solid foundations to get them off to the best start for a healthy and profitable finish, but what comes next at the growing stage is just as important.
Here, Andrew Fothergill, National Poultry Advisor at ForFarmers advises on the factors needed to ensure broilers maintain an optimal condition throughout their growth.
The emphasis is often put on the critical early days in a chick’s development, but optimising broiler nutrition at carefully managed times is key to ensure your birds deliver a healthy finish and meet your business objectives.
Broiler crop cycles are relatively short, and there is a lot that needs to be achieved.
As such, a range of factors must be considered to support the health and performance of the birds.
At around ten days of age, the chicks are typically large enough to consume a pellet.
They are ideally transferred to a pellet ration as soon as possible to optimise consumption and growth rate and avoid feed wastage.
The change needs to be planned to avoid any concurrent activity such as IB vaccination, for example.
A feed that focuses on gut health is essential to support nutrient absorption, encouraging strong skeletal development and improved FCR.
ForFarmers APOLLO Grower supports broilers through this critical stage of growth and intervention.
The APOLLO Grower diet should be fed until all planned interventions, vaccinations (such as Gumboro), and subsequent reactions and risks of coccidiosis are complete, to ensure stress in this phase is minimised, and growth is maintained.
The APOLLO programme has been developed so feed changes are planned around key vaccination periods, helping to reduce bird stress which in turn supports increasing daily growth.
Housing and environment
With each day in this short growing stage so important to the overall performance and profitability of your birds, minimising disruption and keeping external factors as consistent as possible has a huge impact on a broiler’s overall performance.
We must ensure that any changes we make are done at the right time to make them as subtle as possible for the birds.
Humidity and temperature are interdependent, so these factors need to be continually monitored and adjusted depending on the building and external conditions.
As broiler birds grow and stocking density increases, the environment temperature profile needs to be continually managed so any changes made are minor.
Pay particular attention to maintaining environmental conditions at thinning, when bird numbers and proximity of birds to each other is altered.
Generational improvements in genetics have led to faster growth rates, making each day an even more significant proportion of the cycle.
This means that any disruption can have a significant impact, interrupting feed consumption and growth.
A well-balanced approach to nutrition that is optimised at each broiler stage will support your birds in maintaining healthy growth.
APOLLO Grower encourages a healthy gastrointestinal flora, strong skeletal structure, and dry litter, providing the foundation for achieving high-end weights with lower losses, reduced mortality and rejections, and an improved feed conversion ratio.
While monitoring daily growth rates, water consumption is another critical indicator to keep track of.
Water consumption is strongly correlated to feed consumption, and it’s also an indicator of behavioural changes caused by stress or disease.
The modern broiler producer is constantly striving for continual improvement in their bird and business performance.
Central to this is producing a fast and efficiently growing broiler to high welfare standards.
The ForFarmers APOLLO DataView app enables customers to analyse their broiler data to measure success and drive healthier returns.
This allows producers to easily record critical data, including water consumption, daily mortality and vaccine application details.
They can then monitor this data over a specified timeframe and analyse results in a graph format.
Utilising this digital tool supports producers in building on the foundations from the starter phase by carefully maintaining health and growth in readiness for the broiler’s finisher phase.
The ForFarmers Apollo diet has been designed to improve broiler growth, feed conversion ratios and support skeletal development and gut health to help broiler producers maximise their profitability and achieve their business objectives.