Winter management is precondition for production and better health of poultry birds

With drop in mercury level and change in weather from warm to cold, poultry farmers may have to face some challenges of low environmental temperature, poor ventilation and decreased photoperiod. The information was shared by Dr. A.P.S. Sethi, Prof. Department of Animal Nutrition. He said that these Seasonal fluctuations may directly or indirectly influence the egg and meat production. Therefore, farmers must be ready to take on these challenges by adopting some winter stress alleviating practices to overcome economic losses.

Egg production has a tendency to slump down in winter because of reduced hours of natural light. Since hens need sixteen hours of day light to lay well to their potential, therefore provision of light in the laying hen sheds should be considered according to need.

To protect the birds from cold, gunny bags or plastic sheet curtains must be installed on the side walls of shed. However, don't restrict ventilation in an attempt to conserve warmth. Good ventilation in the poultry shed is must, because chickens naturally produce a lot of moisture in their breath and droppings. Leading to ammonia build-up in the shed this higher level of ammonia will affect their eyes, respiratory system and ultimately affecting the productive performance. Poultry birds need plenty of fresh air circulating in and around the poultry shed, so care should be taken not to cover entire side wall but ensure sufficient open area towards the ceiling of shed to facilitate escape of foul air. To provide warm and cozy environment, increase in the depth of litter material (bedding) by six inch. Free access to balanced diet and fresh water must be available to chickens of all age.

Different age groups of poultry birds have unique requirements and abilities to bear cold stress. However day-old chicks are the most fragile and a temperature of 95o F during the first week is must. Chicks chirping loudly, or huddling in groups, are most likely feel too cold and need immediate attention and remedial measures. Try to feed them fresh water and place them near the brooders (heating device).

Dr. Sethi revealed some tips regarding winter stress alleviating management, He said that before arrival of chicks, preheat the brooder room for a day to 95oF,  install curtains on side wall of chicken houses without restricting ventilation, increase the depth of litter material (bedding) and maintain minimum ‘daylight’ of sixteen hour by light bulb for egg producers.