Lesiba Langa, Jericho, Brits, North West Province
We have just taken out our last batch of chickens and will now prepare to restock. The chicken house is undergoing general maintenance to fix the leaking roof and install new curtains.
Part of our preparations for the new batch of chickens is to clean and disinfect the house with Virukill to get rid of bacteria, viruses and fungi that build up in chicken houses. We then put down sawdust or sunflower husks as bedding and let it lie for three days before bringing in the new chicks.
We buy the Ross 308 breed from suppliers in Brits. As smallholder farmers we struggle to get day-old chicks as the better-known breeders focus more on large operations. We don’t have a stable supply at present and for our next batch we will have to find an alternative supplier.
After the chicks go into the house, they get a stress pack for three consecutive days. We then start with our 32 day vaccination programme for Newcastle disease, Gomboro and infectious bronchitis. The vaccines are administered through the drinking water where it cannot survive for longer than three hours before becoming ineffective.
We take away the water for two hours before vaccinating to build up a thirst and encourage the chicks to drink the water quickly. On day seven after the arrival of the day-old chicks, we vaccinate against Newcastle disease; on day 14 we give a combination of Newcastle and Gomboro vaccines.
We give the Newcastle vaccine again on day 21 and then on days 26 and 32 we administer the vaccine for infectious bronchitis. At this stage they are about a month old and weigh between 1.6kg and 1.9 kg. We feed a starter ration until they are 17 days old and then switch to a grower or a finisher ration, depending on availability.