The mortality rate in poultry farming can be reduced provided the space requirements in poultry are adhered to. Many poultry farms are overpopulated and they don’t even know it. The only time they can guess is during an outbreak of diseases and infection. It increases the morbidity as well as a loss of investment.
Overpopulation is a challenge in both worlds of man and animal. It is an underlying cause of many other problems which includes food scarcity, and availability of resources etc. Poultry farmers should consider the ratio of birds to the space available before commencing operations.
A wholesome and healthy environment is needed for a business to survive and poultry farming business is no exception. Chickens need an enabling environment to thrive and this includes enough space per bird. How is this calculated?
Space Requirements In Poultry Farming
A balance must be achieved when starting a poultry business in order to grow and reach maximum productivity. The ecosystem has a way of striking this balance even in the wild and a poultry farmer should not wait for epidemic to strike before doing the needful.
A typical and ideal situation is ensuring a two square feet (2sqft) space for each bird. This means for every five hundred (500) birds, there should be a thousand square feet (1000sqft) to house them. The space available should determine how much birds you can raise.
However, the age and breed of poultry birds can also influence this arrangement. The space required for day old chicks is not the same for point-of-lay birds or adult cocks. Therefore, the capacity of the birds should be known before raising them. Chickens are different from turkeys in size even thought there are turkey breeds about the size of chickens.
Breed of poultry bird determines their space requirement and adherence to this goes a long way in determining the viability of the poultry business. Healthy birds is an healthy investment. What type of chicken do you want to raise? What age do you want them to grow into before disposing them? These are questions to be answered by the farmer.
Space requirements in poultry farming can also depend on the weather, season and style. In cold weather, chicken are best huddled up together for warmth while reverse is the case during hot seasons. The style of poultry whether cage system, deep litter or free range are also important. The coop space must be balanced with the pen space for effective management.
The space needed for broilers is quite different from that of layers. Some birds are known to lay eggs relative to their size. Their movement should not be impeded for any reason.
How To Determine Required Space For Your Stock
It is relatively not an herculean task to determine the space for your bird stock. You just need to give the birds enough room to exhibit and showcase themselves. The more space the birds have, the happier and healthier the birds will be. This will in turn result in more productivity and sales.
For commercial farms, an average of twenty-two laying birds are required per ten square feet (10sqft). An average layer of six weeks with a weight of 400g will need about 0.16 square feet to thrive. Where the birds spend the better part of their day is the best tip to getting it right.
Space Requirement And Feeding Routine
Space requirement cannot be overrated when it comes to the overall health and lifestyle of animals. The number of birds per feeder or simply put, the feeder-sharing ratio depends on many factors.
The size of the feeder is not exempted as the height, depth and length has their own roles to play. A 8.2ft long feeder will allow about 100 birds comfortably. But this same feeder can only take 20 adult birds. As the birds age, the feeder space increases and this means additional feeder to accommodate them and avoid cannibalism.
Also, the nutritional requirement of the birds per time is worthy of note. Their feeding needs differ as they grow old as well the quantity. The feeder therefore may require changing to meet up this requirement. There should be an average space of 18ft between feeders for birds aged 6 to 10 weeks. This should be doubled after a month. 15 weeks old birds will require 43ft feeder space.
Space Requirement Per Housing Style
Space management in poultry farming is important when considering the housing style to be deployed. For free range pens, the space is not really considered by poultry farmers as some overcrowd their pen without realizing it.
Free range birds require between 250- 300sqft for each bird. This will mean for 1000 birds to roam around, 250,000sqft of range space is required. Anything short of this is over population. To effectively utilize this scenario, you can demarcate sections of the total land mass to be rotated on a regular basis.
Battery cage birds require enough space for them to move around in their designated holding. The space will also affect their method of waste disposal, egg laying area as well as their feeding trough.
Dangers Of Overcrowding
When the space requirements is not adhered to, there is danger looming. Overcrowding is when the space available for each bird is not enough for them to fully develop and grow. This problem is seen when there is an infection among the birds and the mortality rate is high. Others include:
Due to close proximity and the need for space, birds begin to peck each other and inflict injuries. The combs being the major target, the birds become exposed and vulnerable to bacteria and other infections.
Feeding time becomes survival of the fittest and the weaker ones would only feed on the scraps or remnant left by others. This makes the birds nutritional deficient and grow at a slow pace. The feathers fall off and the birds appear sickly.
When there is no enough space for birds, they are in close contact with each other and any infection spreads faster than when the birds are not closely packed together.
Space requirements is one criteria many poultry farmers take for granted and it causes more harm than good. For the overall welfare of birds and the investment, it is important to take cognizance of it.
The space requirement varies from bird species to specie, purpose of raising, age and housing style employed. As birds grow, their need for space increases and poultry farmers should be on the lookout.