A Complete Guide on Raising Broilers (Fattening of chickens)
“Fattening“ means a way of keeping, feeding, watering and protecting the health of chickens in a certain period of time in order to get as heavy a chicken as possible, with the least possible consumption of food and loss due to disease. The purpose of this fattening is not for fat, but exclusively for the production of quality chicken meat. The quality of chicken meat depends on the diet and type of food, housing conditions and length of fattening. By keeping chickens on the outlets (pastures), with a diet of mostly cereals and in prolonged fattening, better meat quality was obtained. However, chicken meat produced in this way is significantly more expensive, but, in addition, it is a highly sought-after food on the market of more biologically valuable food.
Fattening chickens in batteries is avoided, because the muscles of the legs develop less in chickens (they move less) and they often injure the sternum due to the solid surface. Due to the inflammatory process, the changed parts are discarded during the slaughter of chickens, and the chicken meat, due to its poor quality, loses its value.
It is common for all ways of fattening that the chickens are kept for the first 4 to 5 weeks under the same conditions of controlled environment, nutrition and care. During this period, strict measures of general prophylaxis and specific protection against most potential diseases of chickens are implemented.
In order to successfully fatten chickens, it is necessary to respect the acquired professional experience of previous fatteners and the scientific knowledge of many research papers in the field of production technology and poultry health care. In short, it is necessary to adhere to the following rules.
Procure broilers only from healthy, productive and well-protected parent flocks.
Healthy and productive parents, protected from diseases, pass on to their offspring – chickens all those traits that are important for efficient fattening. First of all, the speed of growth, good utilization of food, resistance to certain diseases, the desired conformation (body shape), etc. Disease-protected parents transmit antibodies to the chickens against the causative agents of certain diseases that were created during the protection of the parent flocks through the yolk of the hatching eggs.
Chickens produced in this way are healthy, vital, with an average body weight of 35 to 40 g without anomalies (crossed beak, deformities of the head or body) and capable of fattening.
Only one generation of fattening chickens of the same origin should be housed in one facility (minifarm), while respecting the principle “everything inside – everything outside”.
This rule is very important, although, at first glance, it seems too strict.
If several groups of chickens of different generations or more age groups of one generation of parents live in one facility (minifarm), we run the risk that newly settled chickens, which do not yet have any resistance to opportunistic pathogens, become infected from older, apparently healthy chickens. . On the other hand, it is impossible to effectively protect chickens of different ages, according to a specific protection program, from potential diseases, because not everyone has the same immune status, ie. not everyone has the same resistance passed down from their parents. Younger chickens from younger and well-protected parents have more passive antibodies than older chickens. A similar thing happens with chickens of different origins (from different parents or owners), because parents of different origins, and maybe even ages, are differently protected from diseases, and those differences are transmitted to their chickens.
In addition, when using live vaccines, it is impossible to isolate one age group of chickens from another, because the vaccine agent is transmitted by air and in other indirect ways from vaccinated to unvaccinated flocks of chickens, which disrupts the creation of immunity and protection of broilers.
In case of possible illness of broilers, by the end of the fattening cycle, fertilization, cleaning, washing and disinfection, the problem is remedied, if the principle “everything inside – everything outside” is respected. Otherwise, the disease spreads from one age group of broilers to another. In addition to significantly greater damage due to the disease, in this case it takes a much longer period of time for the disease to be completely eradicated.
For efficient fattening, in addition to healthy and vital broilers, it is necessary to provide a functional facility, clean and uncontaminated mat, optimal temperature and humidity, moderate population density of chickens, sufficient feeding and feeding space and appropriate lighting regime.
Reception and settlement of day-old broilers
Day-old chicks are delivered from the incubator station to the facility (mini-farm) in cardboard or plastic boxes, which have either wood wool or corrugated paper (crepe paper) at the bottom to prevent do not injure baby chickens by slipping and stretching. Boxes with chickens are delivered by a specialized air-conditioned vehicle.
Before settling the chickens, the production facility must be prepared in a timely manner. The interior of the area and the wider area around the building, as well as the road network are mechanically cleaned (garbage, mat and other dirt), washed with a pressure apparatus and disinfected with some effective disinfectant. Then a husk is brought into the building and spread, in a thickness of 8 to 10 cm over the entire floor surface of the building. After that, feeding and feeding equipment is introduced and evenly distributed throughout the facility. With a plastic curtain, the building is partitioned to 1/3 or 1/4 of its length. In the part of the partitioned facility, in which one-day-old chickens are housed, equipment for feeding and feeding chickens in the first days of life is brought in and distributed. Depending on the method of heating, circles, 3 to 4 cm in diameter, are formed under the heating bodies (artificial hens), with the help of hardboard partitions, 40 cm high. If the building is heated by heaters, only the corners of the used part of the building are rounded with hardboard partitions, or in some other way the chickens are protected from drafts and limited to the space where the feeders and drinkers are arranged.
At least 96 hours before the chickens move in, the facility with the mat and feeding and watering equipment is hermetically sealed and disinfected again with formaldehyde vapor. Disinfection lasts at least 24 hours. The facility is then opened, ventilated and heated to the desired temperature to receive one-day-old broilers.
If the system for feeding chickens is without drips, in the first days after settling the chickens, small glass or plastic drinkers are used. While the chickens are quite small, ordinary plastic trays, 60 to 80 cm in diameter, are used for feeding, but it is also possible to use new unused egg trays or trimmed cardboard boxes in which the chickens were delivered.
In battery fattening of chickens, although the batteries are equipped with a feeding and power supply system, it is desirable to bring another small drinker into each medium cage, in which the chickens are inhabited.
When the chickens arrive, they are brought in boxes and arranged along the object. The boxes are not placed on top of each other, because due to the elevated temperature in the facility, the chickens could suffocate. The chickens are then taken out of the boxes, counted and arranged around the feeders and drinkers.
Dead or discarded chickens are safely removed, or, if necessary to determine the cause of death in transport, are taken to a special veterinary institution.
Before settling fattening chickens in the middle row of cages of the battery system, it is desirable to cover the bottom of the cage with seven-layer paper (while the chickens are still quite small). After settling the chickens, one layer of soiled paper is removed every day, so that the chickens always have a clean surface during one week.
After 7 to 10 days, the hardboard partitions are removed and the chickens are allowed to move freely throughout 1/3 or 1/4 of the heated object. At the same time, the chickens gradually move from small to large feeders and drinkers. The transition must be gradual over a period of several days, during which time they become fully accustomed to the new sources of food and water. During fattening, the height of the feeders and drinkers is constantly adjusted according to the age of the chickens. With round feeders and drinkers, the edges of the plate should be at the height of the chicken’s back.
After two to three weeks, depending on the population density, the plastic curtain that blocked the building is removed, and the chickens are released into the rest of the building. This expansion of the space can be gradual, especially in the winter, so that the space is first expanded to half of the building, and 2 to 3 weeks later to the entire building.
In the first days of fattening, you should pay attention to the temperature-humidity regime in the building. This is especially important if the transport of chickens took longer.
When chickens move into a facility, they need more water than food. They have food in the remaining yolk sac, and they do not have water (as a reserve), so if the air is too dry, they can dry out. It is also necessary to follow the instructions on the temperature regime.
During this, it is necessary to constantly monitor the condition of the mat. The mat must be continuously loose and allow the chicken droppings to be mixed, dried and thus become harmless.
Ventilation of the facility is a condition for good growth of chickens or their lag in growth, or good or poor health. With well-designed ventilation, it is possible that, despite the higher population density, the mat will be dry and loose, the air clean without ammonia and other cloacal gases, and the health condition and growth are good. As chickens grow, the need for air increases and it is greatest at the end of fattening, when chickens are heaviest. It should never be forgotten that chickens are birds that need air more than any other species.
The duration of fattening
Time of duration is different and depends on Your needs. If you want a smaller broiler (less body weight), the fattening time is shorter, and if the chickens are fattening on the outlet (pasture), the fattening is much longer. The most common is industrial fattening of chickens, which lasts about 42 days. In that time period, the chickens reach a body weight of 1.8 to 2.1 kg with a food consumption of 1.8 to 2.0 kg per 1 kg of live weight gain. The achieved body weights of broilers at the outlet and their food consumption depend on the way the chickens are fed and kept, and they range widely. Usually, the fattening of chickens at the outlet lasts twice as long as the industrial fattening, ie about 12 weeks.
Catching, loading and transporting fattened chickens
Catching, placing in cages, loading on a truck and transporting fattened chickens is a job that must be done with great care.
Chickens should not be fed for at least 6 hours before being caught. Feeders and drinkers are emptied, in fact, depending on the type, they are raised or taken out of the building. Due to the relatively large number of fattened chickens per 1 m2, the capture is approached in such a way that it is not allowed to accumulate and suffocate chickens in certain parts of the building, especially in the corners. Therefore, it is recommended to partition the part of the building with a wire net, in which the chickens are easily caught, if they are in small numbers. Chickens are caught without rudeness (avoiding leg or wing injuries) and best at night, when the object is illuminated with blue light, in which the chickens cannot see, and workers can work unhindered, without the risk of suffocating the chickens and causing injuries. The fattened chickens are placed in standardized plastic cages (in each about 15 to 17 chickens depending on the season, the weight of the chickens and the length of transport) and are usually taken by truck to the slaughterhouse. Some fatteners place rails along the length of the object (they can be easily assembled and unfolded) on which small platform wagons move, on which cages are placed. From the wagon, the cages are manually loaded into trucks. Larger fattening farms use special devices for catching chickens and elevators for loading cages into specialized vehicles. From the fattening area to the slaughterhouse, the chickens should arrive as soon as possible in order to avoid losses in live body weight and possible mortality. During the summer, during the great heat, night transport is recommended, as well as performing other manipulations around the transport of chickens.
Preparation of the facility for a new shift
After the chickens move out, the facility is fertilized, the feeding and watering equipment is emptied and washed, then the facility is washed and after disinfection it is prepared for a new round of fattening chickens.
In the USA and some other countries, it is a well-established practice for a new batch of one-day-old chickens to settle in an undisinfected facility and on an old mat. This is possible, but on the condition that the mat is preserved and loose and that the chickens of the previous round did not have major health problems. This way of settling chickens does not have negative consequences for the health of newly settled chickens, it can even be useful, because chickens come into contact with beneficial microorganisms in the first days of life that inhabit their digestive organs and protect them from early salmonella infection.
Register the following information about chickens during fattening:
– date and number of inhabited chickens;
– number of the facility in which the chickens are inhabited;
– daily death of chickens;
– daily and weekly food consumption and type of food;
– time of vaccination (with data on the manufacturer and series of the vaccine and its duration) and possible treatment (type of medication and duration of treatment).
This production-health record is, on the one hand, important for the fattener to be able to see the costs and problems and possible errors in fattening technology, and on the other hand it is of great use to the expert, who should quickly and accurately diagnose, determine treatment and take other measures to remedy the health issue.
Chicken meat processing
The product called “chickenburger” is made from chicken meat. The meat is ground and shaped with the help of an apparatus (like a drumstick, thigh/leg, etc.), breaded and packed in foils. In addition to this product, “Frankfurt sausages”, hot dogs, chicken salami and risers, smoked drumsticks and thigh/leg, then meat and liver pâtés, canned minced meat and mixed cans (chicken meat combined with various vegetables) are also known. Grilled chicken livers, buns and wings are the delicacies that are talked about.
Chicken meat is a great prospect in human nutrition for several reasons:
It is a food rich in dietary proteins, easily digestible and tasty,
Its price, compared to other types of meat, is lower by 30 to 40%, which is certainly significant for the household budgets of a huge number of people.
Those interested, who will want to deal with chicken fattening, are advised to initially (in order to master the technology and gain experience, fattening on a small scale and with insignificant investments. However, with the accumulated experience in work and secured placement, with additional investments, they can gradually increase their fattening flocks so that this production would be profitable for them.
Feeding chickens for fattening
In order for chickens to grow quickly and use food well, they must be fed mixtures that contain all the necessary ingredients (energy, proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, microelements, etc.). The science of domestic animal nutrition normalizes the composition of the most favorable mixtures for broilers over 40 different ingredients. Therefore, the best and most complete mixtures for fattening chickens, with all the necessary ingredients in the required quantities and in the most favorable ratio, are produced in animal feed factories, which have modern automated and computerized technological equipment for this production.
Starter (450 – 500 g / chicken) is used to feed broilers for the first two weeks,
Grover (growth mixture; 900 – 1250 g / chicken) in the 3rd and 4th week,
Finisher in the 5th and 6th week
I (1800 – 2000 g / chicken), after 6 weeks, for extended fattening, finisher
II (quantity per chicken depends on the duration of fattening).
Pre-starters has recently been suggested. (80-100 g / chicken) is recommended in the first days, which, as stated, should improve the digestion of egg yolks in a one-day-old chicken and the development of digestive organs, as well as ensure better health and better broiler uniformity. Each breeding organization for a broiler hybrid that produces, in the instructions for fattening chickens gives the appropriate dietary norms (types, composition and quantities of mixtures. The most favorable form of food for pre-starters and starters are crumbs (crushed pellets), and for other types (grover and finisher) pellets, diameter 3, 2 mm. fraction, different granulations and lower consumption (chickens are grain eaters).
Factory premixes and own feeds
Although complete factory mixes provide the best and most proper nutrition for chickens in fattening, they often have a significant disadvantage and are expensive. Some breeders, in order to reduce food costs to a lesser extent (and these are the largest costs in the production of broilers, amount to 50 to 70% of the total costs), procures the so-called “Super-concentrate” and mixes it with nutrients that it produces itself or procures in the environment at a lower price. The fattener received instructions for the proper use of the “Super-concentrate” from the animal feed factory that produces it.
Sometimes the fattener has bad experiences with factory mixtures, so he decides to make a mixture of food for fattening his chickens. He sticks to the folk saying: “In everything and in your ears” or “Someone else’s hand does not itch”. He mixes the food by hand, by “shoveling” (transferring the nutrient mixture 3 to 5 times from pile to pile), with a homemade mixer (metal or cardboard barrel in which the food is mixed by turning or tumbling), or with a concrete mixer or a real livestock mixer. food (the most suitable is the so-called counter-current horizontal mixer). The composition of the most economical mixture is calculated by a nutritionist with a computer based on data on available nutrients, their composition and prices, but this has its price and is justified only in the case of large rounds of broilers, ie. Large amounts of food. That is why the fattener usually uses the “best”, “safe” and “verified” formulas, which he received from acquaintances or with which he has good experiences. While emphasizing and emphasizing that such formulas do not exist, because the elements for composing optimal mixtures change every day, here, however, and more for orientation, some examples of formulas for mixtures for broilers are presented. It should be noted that in Western countries, the use of protein foods of animal origin (fish and meat – bone meal) is increasingly being avoided, in order to reduce the risks of salmonellosis and some other diseases. Soy, sunflower, animal yeast and synthetic amino acids are used instead.
Nutrients from the Farm
Breeders of small flocks of broilers often try to fatten chickens with their grains (cereals, legumes), boiled potatoes, green, juicy and root food, waste from the farm and from the kitchen, etc. If such a diet is in accordance with the stated mixtures in terms of the composition of nutrients, the results are satisfactory, and if it is not, the chickens grow more slowly, die more and sometimes peck and fall off their feet. It is important that there is not much salt in the kitchen waste and that all the meat waste given to the chickens is previously cooked for at least one hour. Coarse grains, oil meal and fodder peas, mineral nutrients, meat waste and green and juicy nutrients can be given in special feeders, so that the chickens choose and look for them according to their needs.
Feeding chickens in organic production
As already mentioned, a fattener who wants to fatten chickens in organic production, must join an authorized organization from which he received all the necessary instructions. .
Clean (chemically and bacteriologically correct) drinking water must be provided to the chickens. Chickens consume approximately twice as much water as food, although on hot days, water consumption can be significantly higher.
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