HOUSING AND EQUIPMENT
It is difficult to class housing and equipment as an input, however, without them there in no broiler production. Good poultry housing tends to alleviate the extremes in the bird’s environment and to make it easier for the chicken to compensate for tits surroundings. This means a more optimum ambient temperature in the house, along with an adequate removal of moisture. Details of house designs and construction materials are a subject on their own, so suffice it to say that good housing should:
• Provide warmth to the birds in cold weather
• Reduce the ammonia level in the house
• Provide adequate air movement without providing drafts
• Cool the birds in hot weather
• Reduce the humidity in the house
When it comes to choosing equipment for a broiler house, the degree of sophistication which can be achieved is dependent on capital resources. Generally speaking, the less sophisticated the operation the more is required of the manager, however, equally good results can be achieved from an open convention house with tube feeders, as can from a fully automated controlled environment type house. In both cases, when it comes to producing a sturdy two week-old broiler, there is one thing in common, and that is a good brooding system.
A good brooding system should be able to simulate mother hen and provide warmth when it is required but at the same time allow the chick the opportunity to venture into cooler areas. When setting up a brooding system remember that different chicks have different temperature requirements. Growing make chicks have a slightly higher metabolic rate than do the females, and so will occupy cooler comfort zones of the brooding area. Small chicks tend to favour more heat than less heat. At the end of the day, brooding is more of a management skill than a mechanical skill and the making or breaking of a crop often occurs under the brooder.
Like housing, choice of equipment including brooders often boils down to personal preference and the pros and cons of various types of brooders could form the basis of a lengthy discussion, which is not the purpose of these notes.