Sbu Mohale, Mbombela, Mpumalanga
We have taken the last batch of chickens out and will start preparing for the next batch in a few weeks.
These coming few weeks are very busy as the festive season is approaching. The wedding and party season is about to begin, so the demand for live chickens will start peaking soon.
But for smallholder poultry producers this can be a challenging time to source day-old chicks as the demand is so high. This, coupled with the problem of loadshedding, which is affecting hatcheries particularly the smaller ones, is causing supply problems.
Once we have secured the new stock, we prepare by cleaning and disinfecting the chicken house. We use chemicals such as ViruKill, which is widely used by poultry farmers for preventing disease outbreaks in the crowded houses.
After disinfection, we put down the bedding of sawdust, or sunflower seed husks, which we source from a furniture manufacturer, or sunflower oil processors, close by. The house will stand empty for about two to three days before the chicks are brought in.
Once we’ve put the chicks in, they are given a stress pack for three days consecutively, followed by a 32-day vaccination programme for Newcastle disease, Gumboro (infectious bursal disease) and infectious bronchitis. These vaccines are administered through the drinking water. We will vaccinate again against Newcastle on day seven and then on day 14 we will use a combination vaccine for Newcastle disease and Gumboro.
We give the chicks starter feed from when they arrive until they are 17 days old and after that we give them grower or finisher feed, depending on the availability of the feed.