ERROR ON CHOICE OF BREED
Choice of breed is the cardinal factor that will either mar or made you as a poultry farmer. You cannot perform above the efficiency of your selected breed. Therefore, ignoring the advice on careful selection of good breed is suicidal to your entire poultry enterprise/business. Your success or failure commence here. Therefore:
What are the major factors of consideration in breed selection?
Breed is the bed rock of all animals’ production; good breed is the foundation to a successful animal production business. Good breed is the entry point to a profitable animal production business. Therefore you cannot afford to miss it at the point of breed selection else your productivity will be adversely affected.
Excellent breed is to livestock farmer what quality seed is to crop farmer. A crop farmer must sow quality seeds in order to harvest bounty harvest; likewise must a poultry farmer obtain quality day old chicks (DOC) for optimum production and profitability. Once a farmer got it wrong here, everything will be adversely affected.
No amount of quality drug(s), best feeds or excellent managerial practices can right the havoc created by poor breed. Poor breed will negatively affect the overall performance of your farm business causing great loses.
There’s virtually nothing the best civil engineer can do to a building with faulty foundations than to pull it down and rebuild it all over. The same goes with a farmer with poor breed!
A breed is a species of animal with distinctive, homogeneous characteristics, and performance deliberately developed through genetic breeding which differentiate them from other animal.
How to get good breed is the first though that should comes to mind in broiler production enterprise – that’s the best and indeed the safe starting point of a successful and profitable poultry business. We have many breeds of broiler. Let give brief description of some.
Marshal breed of broilers usually grows tall and big. (These outlook command market price) They are well recommended for small scale farmers who sell to the open market (consumer) as well as commercial farmers.
Therefore, if you intend to rear sizeable number of broilers aim at selling to individual consumers, or targeting festive season go for marshal breed. Marshall Breed is suitable for both commercial and subsistent poultry farmers.
You can also rear this breed against festive period or rear as special gifts to prominent individuals due to its giant physical outlook under good managerial practices (feed/feeding, water, housings…)
Abor acre plus
Abor acre plus are known for broad chest and achieve good weight within a short period. A farmer who decides to raise frozen chickens for sale or to the restaurant centers may go for Abor acre plus breed. Farmers who want to raise broilers for eateries targeting 6th week should go for abore acre plus because of the special weight gain associated with this breed under good managerial practices.
Abor acre can attain average of 2kg (plus) live weight at 6th week under good managerial practices.
Coob is one of the oldest breed of broilers in the world.
Coob breed also has excellent growth rate with high uniformity. The breed have high feed conversion ratio (FCR).
Coob can achieve better meat production under a seemly poor feed. They are good converter of feed. However, this does not exonerate the need for quality feed. Quality feeds is very central to excellent broiler production.
Ross is also one of the best breed of broilers. Ross has wide feet and broad chest, high appetite for feed which aid weight gain.
Hubbard has high feed conversion ratio and are very strong. Good adaptability to weather. Hubbard is also characterized with high growth and achieves market weight on time.
Anak is known for body conformation and big size.
Cockerels are raised for meat and can take up to six months to one year before maturity. We have white and black breed.
Unlike broilers cockerel can thrive well under unfavorable weather condition. Therefore cockerels are cheaper to maintain. To make maximum profit, cockerel should be raised in free range or semi free range system.
Kuroilers/Neoilers are of late introduced to Nigerian market. It’s a genetic combination of broilers and cockerels. They produce good meat and also have high resistance against sickness. Good table meat can be achieved at 12 weeks of raising kuroilers. Many farmers have developed high interest in raising kuroilers due to it high resistance to diseases and cheap means of feeding them.
SIGNS ASSOCIATED WITH POOR BREED
Poor growth despite use of quality feed and feeding
– Of what use is quality feed to locally breed fowl in term of weight gain? Such is the case of poor breed of broilers. Poor feed are poor converter of feeds.
Therefore as you notice poor growth rate in your flock despite quality feeds, good management and no sign of sickness, you may be raising birds from poor breed!
Poor weight gain (fcr)
Agood breed of broiler will attain average live weight of 1-1.2kg at 4 weeks old under good managerial practices. Right from the seventh day old, if your birds are weighing 80g-120g averagely despite best feed, water, temperature … and no symptom of any sickness, you are likely raising poor breed.
Dehydration and dullness
Poor breed develop thin dry legs despite good feed, feeding and water. One of the noticeable points of growth in broilers is the legs. Legs of poor breed will remain tiny and dried despite good management.
However, it should be noted that insufficient water, excessive heat (high temperature) and high dosage of antibiotic drugs can cause dryness of feet in poultry (especially at young age) apart from the issue of poor breed.
Unexplainable high mortality (death) is common among poor breed
Poor immune system make poor breed susceptible to diseases which caused high mortality as well as poor resistance to weather changes.
Poor eye sight
Bright eye sight is one of the good characteristics of good breed. A sleepy attitude is common and high among poor breed. Poor breeds are generally dull. They are not active. They are not excited at lightning, good feeds, good temperature. Nothing excite poor breed. Your bird’s response to lightening is one of the factors to look out for in determining quality breed of broilers.
Difficulty in recognizing feeds feeders and drinkers
Difficulty in locating and accessing feeders and drinkers is common among poor breed. Feeding trays for day old chicks are so designed to make it easier for chicks to identify (mostly red in color) However, poor chicks still find it difficult to identify feeders and drinkers. Many a time, you will need picking them with hands to help them identify feeders and drinkers.
Poor feed and water intake
Poor breed will not settle to eat; poor breed has poor appetite for feed. Poor breed practices pick and drop feeds syndrome while in sleepy mood. They do lots of selective picking of feeds. Sleepy and drowsy attitude is common among poor breed while feeding. Scratching of feeders is also very high. These they concentrate on instead of eating.
General weakness and Clustering
Poor breed are usually week on feet, cluster (gather) in groups even under good temperature and weather. They seem to support each other due to poor hormonal imbalance associated with poor breed. They rest on each other for support.
Loss of feathers/rough feathers
Frequent fall of feathers can occur even at young age. Rough feathers are also notice.
Restlessness, pecking and cannibalism
Restlessness leads to vices such as pecking and cannibalism. The beak developed into sharp pointed shape. They attack each other and any object in sight.
An act of finding resting place on any high platform is rampant among poor breed. Poor breed due to poor weight gain are light, therefore there is always an attempt to fly. Poor breed always view high platforms in the pen with an attempt to fly over it. They are restless.
CHARACTERISTICS OF HEALTHY CHICKS (GOOD BREED)
Bright eyes sight
Eyes of good day old chicks breed are bright and sharp able to identify feeds, feeders and drinkers easily in the brooding room. Check the eye sight; it should be bright and wide open, not dull, close or sleepy.
Good breed begins to eat and drink ravenously under good temperature right from arrival date. They are not force to eat, they eat at will.
High feed conversion ratio (FCR)
Feed conversion ratio is the amount of feed consumed by bird to gain body weight. Good breed has high conversion ratio. They are good converter of feed to flesh.
Good initial weight
Good breed is characterized with good average weight on arrival. Weights on arrival of good breeds are uniform because eggs sizing is well carried out before taking them to incubator in the hatchery. Average weight on arrival ranges within 40-45g. Therefore when you see day old chicks averagely weighing 20-25g, such are likely poor breed or eggs poorly selected for hatching. Such birds will not likely grow well. They will turn to runts.
Good breed are very active right from the point of arrival. Wings/feather flipping is common. High response to bright lightning is also very common among good breed.
Smooth, dry feathers
Feathers of good breeds are smooth and dry not rough.
Uniform distribution on floor space
Under good temperature, good breed are uniformly distributed on floor space. Clustering is not common among good breed. They don’t rest on each other for support under good temperature.
Non deformity (blindness or lameness)
Good breeds are not usually deformed in any way. If such occur, th percentage will be very low in the flock.
EARLY NEGATIVE SIGNS THAT YOUR BIRDS
MAY NOT DO WELL
Whenever you find these negative signs, it is a warning signal that your broilers breed may not do well and necessary actions must be taken to address the negative situation.
Poor weight on arrival
Weight on arrival is critical to the overall performance of your chicks. It’s unfortunate that many farmers never take record of the weight on arrival of their chicks. Good chick should weigh 40-45g averagely on arrival. Always take time to know the average weight of your chicks on arrival. This you do by randomly selecting some of the chicks either individually or collectively (like 20 of them) and weigh. When you weigh collectively you must divide the total weight obtained by the number of chicks taken. Use digital scale because it is more accurate in reading than the analog. Weighing must be done before your chicks pick any feed or drink water.
When you see your broilers sitting on drinkers or other high platform
When you see your birds sitting on drinkers or any high
platform, it’s a sign of poor weight gain which is highly associated with poor breed
or poor management! Ability to hop in broilers is a sign of poor weight gain.
Good performing broilers should build up weight that will hinder then from jumping/hoping on high platform.
When you see your broilers able to jump/hop on drinkers in their 14 days old and above, it’s a great sign of poor weight gain and you should be concerned.
Weight is the most determinant factor in broiler performance! Looks at the pictures I shared at gallery, birds weighing over 400g in their 14th day old; such birds will find it difficult to make any jump/hop which is a great sign of good growth!
When the crop is not swollen
After 72 hours of chick’s arrival, feel the crop of your chicks. A bit swollen crop is a sign that your chicks are eating well. It’s a sign of good response to feed and feeding. It’s a sign that the chick are enjoying the feed and are really eating it, however this will shrink down as digestion takes place – it’s a continuous process. Swollen, shrink, swollen, shrink… Crop is found at the base of chick’s neck. Crop should not be hard because that is a sign of poor digestion.
Watch out the legs of your chicks from the fourteen day of arrival. Tiny dry legs is a sign of poor breed or poor management (feed/feeding in particular)
Good breed under good management develops enlarge legs. One of the points of observation among others in broilers’ development is legs enlargement.
Poor response to feeds and water is highly common among poor breed. Frequent scratching of feeders is seen among poor breed. Scratching without really picking feeds is common among poor breeds. Pick and drop syndromes is common among poor breed! Water intake is also poor. However, it should be noted that excessive heat will make your chick run away from feed and water.
Restlessness characterize by high sound is common among poor breed. Feather flocking, pecking are common among poor breed.
When you find your birds crowded in groups despite good temperature, you should be concerned. Good breeds under good temperature are uniformly distributed on the floor space.
Poor response to lightening
When your chicks are not excited at the presence of lightning, you should be concern. Test their level of response to lightning by intentionally off the light and on it back in about 10 minutes after and watch out their response.
GUIDE AGAINST BUYING POOR BREEDS
These are necessary to keep you from falling victim to poor breed sellers. You must avoid buying poor breed in order to be successful in broiler business.
Never buy your day old chicks from untraceable hatcheries, open market or road side sellers
A genuine day old chicks sellers/hatcheries should have traceable contact address. Help our genuine hatcheries to win war against quacks by burning off day old chicks boxes. Don’t give it out, don’t sell it. Quacks hatcheries have no traceable address/phone number. Many a time they don’t have designed day old chicks boxes with traceable address. In fact you may not see name of chicks on the box. Avoid buying day old chicks from third party. Establish direct contact with reputable hatcheries/marketers.
Ask questions, visit farms, interact with other farmers especially in your locality. Don’t be a lone ranger. You need birds that will adapt and perform well in your locality. Know the performance status of birds in your locality before you make order. Make use of online and off line search. Ask question. The world is a global village.
Don’t just say I want to buy day old chicks, ask for a specific breed (Marshall, Abor acre, Ross, Anak, Hubbard, Cobb…) we have lots of marketers/hatcheries of day old chicks in Nigeria: OBASANJO,CHI, TUNS, SUPREME, NASTECH, AGRITED, AMO,MAX, ZARTECH, CASCADA, SAYED, FARM SUPPORT, FIDAN, BOOM, SABTECH, BNOT, RTO, POULTRYPLAZA…
Some of these sell same breed of day old chicks (DOC)
Farmer A and B may buy day old chicks from different hatchery/marketer, yet buying the same breed of chicks. Always specify what breed you are buying. When you ask for breed, they will tell you whether they have it or not moreover, it is a good reference point to know the performance status of the breeds you are buying.
Buy from branded and reputable farm/hatcheries: Obasanjo, Chi, Amo, Tuns, Nastech, Sayed, Agrited, Olams… are example of reputable farms/hatcheries or marketers in Nigeria.
Carry out personal trials
Trial is a way of experimenting different breed of chicks under same conditional treatment in order to determine best performing breed. This is one the best way to make good choice. Carry out trials on breed once in a while. For example buy two set of breed, give them same treatment (same feed, water, temperature, housing, lightening…) take the average weight after each seven days. This will show you best performing breed and guide in your future choice of breed. Or you make indelible marks (see gallery) on different breeds and rear them under same condition with aim of identifying best performing breed for future guide/references.
Maintain good record keeping
Good record keeping will help in taken future decision based on past performance. Some breed may be suitable for a particular area and condition, your art of good record keeping will show which breed do well in your locality. Some breeds had special handling peculiarity and challenges; your good record keeping will reveal all these.
Be flexible to changes. That a particular breed is good today doesn’t mean it will continue to be good all along. Hatcheries that fail to maintain good track of parent stock will not continue to produce good chicks. Be on the watch out and know when to switch over to better performing breed based on your findings.
Be at the collection centre early
I was at collection centre few weeks ago, where I saw an agent recounting customer’s chicks and started removing the extra ones. Some can even repackage your chick or exchange it altogether with another breed. Moreover, if you are buoyant enough visit the hatcheries yourself for collection because lot of funny things can happen on transit by the drivers. Some of these drivers carry different breed to designated places – lot of exchanges may happen along the way. Therefore you may want to buy from hatcheries having their own vehicle purposely for their own breed or personally visit the hatcheries for collection, if you are buying good number of chicks.
FACTORS THAT MAY MAKE YOU MISJUDGE GOOD BREEDS
It should be noted that there are certain factors capable of making you misjudge good breeds. Such include:
Poor quality feed and feeding
Feeds play a major vital role in broilers’ performance. Good quality breed will perform poorly under poor quality feed and feeding. You may also want to carry out trial of feeds on breed of chicks. By this you feed same breed of chicks with different type of feeds under same conditions. Maintain good feeding ration. Use adequate feeders. (See gallery) provide good water.
Good breed will never perform well under poor temperature. (See chapter two for recommended temperature) poor temperature will affect rate of feeding. Your chicks will keep away from feed under high/low temperature.
Chicks that live under darkness will not do well. Bright lightening is very essential to broilers performance especially during the brooding days.
When you over stock, you chick’s growth will be adversely affected, which you may mistake for poor breed. (See gallery) allowing excessively floor space will also affect weight gain of broilers.
Use of high dosage antibiotic drugs
High dosage of antibiotic drugs will retard the growth of your chicks. Follow manufacturer’s prescription.
Extending brooding days
When brooding days are extended beyond normal, bird’s weight will be adversely affected. I was in a farm where I met coal pot in the pen at the three weeks old of the birds. That is really bad. Broilers don’t really need heat at this age at all. Such broilers produce poor weight and feathers.
Infestation of lice
If you allow local fowl or wild birds into your pen, you will likely have lice infestation which will seriously affect weight gain of your birds. Always destroy birds’ nest found in your pen. Your birds will never do well (gain weight) under lice infestation. Check the bird’s wings to find presence of lice. Signs of lice infestation include: restlessness, anemia (pale looking), poor weight gain, feather pecking…
If found, a quick solution is to buy any ecto parasite solution. Measure about 100 mil in a bottle and add about 10 mil of methylated spirit into it. This means for every 100mil of ecto-parasite solution, you will always need 10mil of methylated spirit. Drop this combined solution on the wings and around the pen. You will be surprised how the lice will disappear. This is the most stress less way of delousing your birds.