Feed your birds well to keep them healthy

Avian influenza outbreaks have been a big problem for poultry farmers in South Africa. Good biosecurity measures are important in order to mitigate risk and to secure your birds’ health overall. 

Juan Pretorius, a technical advisor at AFGRI Animal Feed, gave some insight on this on African Farming.

Avian Influenza, or AI, is a disease mostly found in layers and broiler breeders. Broilers are less susceptible to AI, though.

AI is mostly grown by water birds and spread by wild birds that usually migrate from the northern hemisphere. It’s usually spread quite fast. 

“This year’s AI is quite different than the previous years’ because it’s a different variant. Usually, when your birds are infected, they die within a day. This year the incubation period was three to four days,” said Juan.

This pushed this disease to a new level because birds on the farm would start to look sick, but farmers wouldn’t realise the birds have AI.

“The problem with that is, by the time farmers do realise, it’s already spread through the farm. So, that is currently the biggest challenge with AI this time around. And if your biosecurity isn’t in place, it can quickly wipe out your farm.”

Biosecurity measures in order to mitigate risks of AI

Biosecurity is a broad term, and one should simplify it. 

‘Dip your boots into a footbath, spray your vehicle, limit the number of visitors to your farm,” Juan said. “That way you will limit the amount of chances for the disease to be spread in your farm, and just in general keep your farm clean.”

Good quality feed plays a role in order to secure good health for your bird

Good feed will never prevent disease on a farm but if will give your birds a good chance in life.

“It’s essential for the growth and development of the bird especially when they are young. 

Good quality feed just ensures that the gut health and development of the bird is 100% so later in life they are less prone to diseases.

“Usually in broilers the number of days you feed your chicks are limited to 30-35 days to reach 2 kg. By that time farmers usually sell the birds. If you have a lower quality feed it usually takes longer, up to 42 days, to reach that point. And then your birds become more prone to disease when they’re older.”

For more information, visit afgri.co.za

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