POULTRY PRODUCTION MANUAL
Broiler breeder producers generally keep daily feed and production records. Any drop in egg production or feed consumption, or a rise or fall in water consumption that is unexplained by other factors, should alert the producer to a potential problem. If ill or dead chickens are seen, then the response strategy for dead birds must be followed. If the problem is related to production only, then veterinary advice must be sought.
For any breed of chicken, whether meat or egg, a drop in feed or water consumption can be a sign of an infectious disease. Feed and water consumption should be monitored closely. A significant drop in consumption must be considered a trigger event and specific diagnostic actions should be taken. Included among those actions would be investigations of the watering or feeding system to ensure that a failure in the supply has not resulted in the observed consumption drop. If there is no physical reason apparent, then diagnostic procedures should be followed in the same manner as if sick birds were observed. Included among the diagnostic procedures should be the collection of feed and water samples. In the event of a drop in production or a drop in feed consumption, veterinary advice should be sought.
For broiler breeders, production records currently in use will provide a good means for recording this information. The result of any investigation should be recorded in the flock log. A drop in egg production or fertility may be an indication of infectious disease. Such drops should be investigated and diagnostic services sought if a management cause cannot be readily identified.
Enhanced mortality records
Recording mortalities more than twice a day will enhance records and enable a more immediate response to a triggering event. A further enhancement would be to record mortalities by category. Categories will break down the types of mortality seen and will give additional clues as to the underlying cause of the problem. Such mortality categories can be easily observed and described by farm personnel.
- Flippers: large, well-conditioned broilers usually found dead on their backs. These broilers generally have feed in the crops, indicating that they have been eating well.
- Culls: small, poor-doing broilers that are removed by the grower.
- Legs: those birds that are removed by the grower for leg deformities or other apparent disabilities.
- Other: sick or dead broilers that do not fit into the other three categories. This type of mortality is a signal that an infectious disease may be present in the flock.
- Replacement pullets and cockerels
- Culls: small, poor-doing chickens that are removed by the grower.
- Other: sick or dead birds that are not usual culls. This type of mortality is a signal that an infectious disease may be present in the flock.
- Adult birds
- Culls: small, poor-doing chickens that are removed by the producer.
- Legs: chickens showing difficulty walking due to obvious leg problems.
- Other: sick or dead chickens that do not fit into the ‘culls’ or ‘legs’ categories. This type of mortality is a signal that an infectious disease may be present in the flock.