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Gateway to poultry production and products

Management and housing

If poultry are to achieve their genetic potential for meat or egg production, they need an environment that meets their physiological requirements. This includes: i) a suitable physical environment in terms of temperature, humidity, air movement and the surfaces on which they live; ii) adequate food and water; iii) minimal exposure to disease causing organisms; and iv) avoidance of exposure to stress resulting from the physical and social environment. The factors influencing these are determined largely by housing and management.

Indigenous birds in small semi-scavenging flocks are typically provided with overnight shelter in very rudimentary structures made from local building materials such as thatch, timber, mud bricks and/or bamboo. Most small-scale commercial operations with commercial birds also use simple housing constructed from local materials, but in this case the birds are typically reared in confinement and fed compounded diets. As commercial production progresses to medium- and large-scale operations, greater use is made of commercial materials and equipment, accompanied by increased mechanization and automation. A major element of this progression is the move from natural to mechanized and automated ventilation with fans.

Whatever the production system, all management procedures with adult stock – during incubation and hatching, brooding of young chicks, and rearing of young meat and layer stock – should focus on meeting the birds’ physiological requirements at all stages of life by providing an ideal physical environment, minimizing exposure to diseases, meeting the birds’ behavioural and social needs, and providing them with clean water and good-quality feed that satisfies their nutrient requirements.