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Follow this, If your CHICKENS are Losing WEIGHT

Monika Mondal
Monika Mondal

With the change over from the free-range system of poultry keeping to the confined system or even semi-range system, birds have to be provided with all the nutrients through the feed. The knowledge of the science of nutrition is essential for the poultry farmers, whether they themselves prepare feeds for their own flock or buy ready-made feed mixture, to attain the objectives of producing well-balanced high quality feed that promotes maximum response at the least cost without competing with the necessities of human dietaries.

Poultry birds have no lips or teeth, hence require a more concentrate ration. Their digestive tract is a simple stomach which is comparatively short, and digestion is quite rapid. It takes about two and half to four hours for the feed to go from mouth to cloaca in the laying hen and 10 hours in a non-laying hen. Therefore, the nutritive requirements of poultry are more precise.

Unlike ruminants, where microorganisms synthesize a sizeable portion of essential amino-acids, vitamin B complex, vitamin K in the stomach, the poultry completely depends upon the dietary source for all the essential amino-acids, vitamin B complex, etc.


Poultry birds are fed collectively rather than individually. Due to a higher rate of metabolism, poultry requires a more exact ration.

Poultry is said to be under stress, when there is any departure from the normal routine causing inconvenience to the birds.


Nutritional deficiency, diseases, extreme weather conditions, crowding, debeaking and vaccination as also the unusual noise, transporting chicks etc. are the main causes of stress in the poultry. Profits from poultry operations depend upon the elimination of as many stresses as possible.

How to know of stress conditions  ?

Stress in the birds is indicated by the increase in size and functioning of a number of glands in the birds body and loss of appetite. Adult animals usually lose weight while growth slows down or ceases in growing animals.

How to deal with stress ?

Antibiotics and vitamin A are beneficial in reducing early chick mortality in diseases and also in times of stress. Their use is suggested after any shock or upset conditions such as overheating, chilling, vaccination, deworming and debeaking. They are fed 2 or 3 days prior to the period of stress and 2 to 5 days following stresses, depending on the condition of the birds.

Nutrition under heat stress deserves a special mention. Energy requirement of chicken decreases the feed consumption. The fall in feed consumption may cause general or specific nutrient deficiency. The real temperature range for layer chickens lies between 13 to 30 degree C. Thus the feed intake may decrease by 1.5% per 1o C increase in temperature as the latter increases from 20o C to 30o C, while the decline in feed intake may be 4-5% for each 1oC rise in temperature in the range of 30-40 degree centigrade.

While the increase in temperature decreases the energy requirement, the requirement for protein, minerals and vitamins do not decrease. The summer diet of birds should contain higher level of these nutrients.

The heat stress can be reduced by feeding diet which will lower the heat production in the body. Among the nutrients utilized by the body for energy, fats cause the lowest heat production and the proteins the maximum. Therefore, the dietary protein requirement can be minimized by ensuring that only essential amino-acids needs are met, and dietary excess of amino-acids are avoided.

Reports indicate a reduction in the body synthesis of vitamin C by birds at higher temperature. Restoration of impaired thyroid functioning (due 10 excess heat) and improvement in egg production and shell quality of eggs have been reported with the vitamin C supplementation of summer diets.

Birds require more water at higher temperatures. Plenty of cool and clean water must be ensured during summer months.

 what would you like to read : write to me : monika@krishijagran.com

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