Poultry production: Considering free-range chickens

Question: We need to improve our cash flow. We want to establish pastures around our house for rearing free-range chickens. The pastures should have the right protein and dietary content so the chickens will grow correctly. Which breed of chicken should we choose? I thought it would be best to…

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Poultry production: Dealing with crusts on your chickens’ legs

Question: We are new to keeping chickens and housed them in an enclosure. They subsequently developed crusts on their legs. We’ve read in books and asked around and have had answers such as its being mites and that we’d have to use old engine oil to get rid of them!…

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Regenerative farming: Chickens help restore soil fertility

High-density grazing helped Angus McIntosh restore soil health, eliminate pests and diseases and double the feed conversion ratio of his chickens. Before Angus McIntosh started farming at Spier Biodynamic Farm just outside Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, somebody warned him that the soil there was very poor. “That person won’t…

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Poultry production: The importance of cleaning your chicken house

Question: Is it necessary to wash and sanitise a poultry house? Yes. In fact, it’s an important part of the production process to ensure that the house is correctly sanitised and rested before the next batch of chicks is placed. HOW TO Carrying out a good dry-clean and dusting off…

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Poultry production: The difference between incubators and brooders

Question: What are brooders and incubators, and how does one use them? Brooders are used on a farm and incubators are used in a hatchery. BROODERS There are many types, but their basic function is to provide heat for newly-hatched chicks. The simplest ones use wood or charcoal burners to…

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Poultry production: Water quality and vaccines

Question: Can water quality have a negative effect on vaccines used for poultry? There’s no negative effect on the “killed/inactivated” (oil emulsion) vaccines, applied as intra-muscular or subcutaneous injections. Water quality becomes very important, however, when “live” vaccines are used. Excessively hard water, or water that contains a lot of…

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Poultry production: Why vaccines don’t always protect your chickens

Question: Why do vaccines sometimes not protect chickens? The handling and storage of “live” vaccines is very important. Remember that these vaccines contain live viruses or bacteria. Very specific temperatures must be adhered to when storing vaccines, or they will be damaged. They should not be exposed to direct sunlight…

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Poultry production: How much water should your chickens drink?

Question: How important is water in the poultry industry? Water is a vital and important nutrient of poultry, and fresh potable water must always be available. Poultry drink twice as much water as the feed they eat and this fact must be borne in mind. Please note that these are…

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Poultry for Africa – not quite business as usual

Boschveld, a 50 ha farm in the Bela-Bela area of South Africa’s Limpopo Province, is the operational heart of Mike Bosch’s indigenous chicken business. Mike Bosch is white. He is also African to the core. His context is African, his approach is African, his adaptability is African, his knowledge and…

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Poultry production: Your chicken houses and warm temperatures

Question: I’d like to start a broiler operation in Phalaborwa, South Africa. I see that broiler houses need to be cooled to 21˚C up to day 21 of production. Is it necessary to do this? Temperatures in Phalaborwa sometimes reach 48˚C in summer. If your poultry house is well-designed, you…

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Tanzania gears up for local production of Cobb 500 chickens

The Tanzanian poultry industry is gearing up for the introduction of Cobb 500 broiler chickens by a new breeding partnership between Irvines Tanzania Limited and Tyson Foods of the United States of America. Irvines Tanzania Managing Director Pietro Stella said the Sh32 billion poultry farm in the Kilimanjaro region will…

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Festive season sparks brisk business for Zambian poultry farmers

Players in the Zambian poultry industry say chicken sales have risen by as much as 20% this festive season. The Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) says the rise in sales was due to competitive consumer prices arising from a drop in stock feed prices. “During the festive season we usually…

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Poultry production: Why do chickens snick?

Question: What causes chickens to snick (cough softly or sneeze)? The causes of snicking can be several poultry diseases or management issues. DISEASES Mycoplasma gallisepticum and synoviae can both be transmitted vertically from the breeder hens via the eggs to the newly hatched chicks. If this occurs, the chicks will…

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Poultry production: Possible reasons for poor feathering in chickens

Question: My chicks don’t have any feathers on their chests or backs. They are 42 days old today and have to be slaughtered. Can you tell me why this has happened? Could you please give a table that indicates what their weight gain should be today? Poor feathering could have…

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Poultry production: Learn more about fowl pox

Question: What is fowl pox and what can I do about it? This disease is common to all forms of poultry – commercial layers, breeders, broilers and village chickens. It is caused by the fowl pox virus and can be transmitted by direct contact with infected or carrier birds, as…

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Diligent management and reasonable care can grow flocks from family food units to productive businesses in a surprisingly short time.

Poultry production: Get to grips with feed conversion in broilers

An expert gives some suggestions to improve feed conversion ratios (FCR) in broilers. The secret of successful broiler nutrition is to adopt the correct feeding strategy to ensure the best possible feed conversion ratios (FCR). Rick Kleyn from Spesfeed, an animal nutrition company, has some suggestions on how farmers can…

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Poultry production: How to check the general health of your chickens

Question: How can I check the health of my chickens? If you use your basic stockman’s skills and your senses, a visit to the poultry house will provide a wealth of information regarding the health and management of the chickens. LOOK As you enter the poultry house, especially where young…

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Poultry production: Handling and administering live vaccines

Question: What are the guidelines for handling live vaccines and administering them orally (by mouth)? NEVER expose vaccines to sunlight. Store them in the fridge, not in the freezer. Always transport vaccines in a cooler box, with an ice pack to keep them cool. Starve birds of water for half…

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Poultry production: Raising broiler chickens without electricity

Question: Is it possible to produce broiler chickens throughout the year without electricity? Many poultry farmers started off brooding with charcoal or gas. There is no reason why corrugated iron houses cannot be heated successfully all year round. What is important is for farmers to use their initiative and look…

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Poultry production: What causes poor body weight in broilers?

Question: What causes low body weight in broiler chickens and what can I do about it? ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS Temperature extremes: When there are temperature variances during the brooding period, the growth of the chicks will be negatively affected resulting in poor growth and poor flock uniformity. In very hot weather,…

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Poultry production: What causes water belly in chickens?

Question: What is water belly in chickens and what causes it? The correct name for water belly is Ascites and it is an accumulation of non-inflammatory fluid in the abdominal area. The fluid is usually a clear yellow colour. The following are possible causes of the condition: Increased arterial pressure due…

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