Farm ChoiceTM Layer Management Guide
Animal Feeds for your Lifestyle.
Net Weight: 20 kg Product #: 110414
Masterfeeds Farm Choice brand poultry feeds are balanced, quality products backed by results. We are proud feed suppliers of some of the most successful chicken, turkey and duck producers across Canada.
Masterfeeds poultry feeds promote optimal health at every stage and include wholesome grains and vegetable proteins balanced with minerals and vitamins, nutrient-dense, carefully-balanced diets, and formulations that increase growth and development.
The following information is designed to assist poultry producers to avoid management problems and prevent the potential for serious issues in the flock. A Masterfeeds Poultry Account Manager will help you maximize margins with a total barn approach. Factors such as temperature, intestinal health, lighting and stimulation, feeder space, water microbial and mineral content and floor space to name a few are imperative for ideal conditions for healthy and productive flocks.
Egg Production Breeds – Several Leghorn white egg strains are available. Leghorns start laying eggs at about 20 weeks, at which time they weigh about three pounds. With proper management, they will lay 18 to 22 dozen eggs per bird during the first year of production.
The brown egg strains will weigh about four pounds by 20 weeks of age. They come in a variety of feather color patterns and will generally produce fewer eggs while requiring more feed than the Leghorn breeds. They are generally classified as dual purpose breeds with the cockerels used for meat production and the hens for egg production.
Preparing for Bird Arrival
- Remove all old litter.
- Clean and disinfect house and equipment using an approved disinfectant.
- Fumigate if possible.
- Let house lie empty and air out for two weeks.
- Provide one square foot of floor space per chick, one day old through the 12th week.
- Place about four inches of clean, dry litter such as pine shavings or sawdust.
- Use chick guards: 18 to 24 inch cardboard to keep chicks close to heat, feed and water for first 10 days.
- Chick feeders: minimum of one foot long per 15 chicks.
- Water Fountains: one gallon capacity per 25 chicks or ¼ inch trough space per chick.
- Bring house up to brooding temperature one day before delivery.
- Fill waterers four hours before arrival. Allow birds to drink for three to four hours before giving first feed. This will help prevent dehydration.
- Refer to feeding guide to determine amount of feed needed for each stage of growth.
Buy chicks from a reputable hatchery. The source of chicks is very important to assure disease-free stock. The hatchery should source birds from government approved breeding flocks to minimize disease.
Brooder stoves or heat lamps can be utilized. Place a maximum of 350 birds per stove or 75 birds per heat lamp. Use a minimum of two heat lamps in case one burns out. Adjust the temperature to 32° C at the chick level. Reduce temperature 5° per week to a minimum of 16° C. The best indication of a comfortable temperature is when the chicks are spread evenly within the chick guard. Remove wet areas around waterers and feeders daily to maintain good litter condition and to keep leg problems and disease conditions at a minimum. Brooder litter paper should be used when starting chicks. It makes it easier for the chicks to get around and reduces the chicks’ tendency to eat the litter, causing starve-outs. Keep litter clean and dry to promote a healthy environment for chicks.
The effect of light on growth and production is a very important factor. Chicks should be placed on 24 hours of light for the first week. Broilers and capons can then be allowed to follow the natural day length as long as there is at least 14 hours of light provided.
General guidelines for total hours of natural and artificial light could be as follows:
- First week after chicks are housed – 24 hours of light.
- Two to six weeks – 16 hours of light.
- Six to 12 weeks – 13 hours of light.
- 12 to 18 weeks – 10 hours of light.
- At 18 weeks, increase day length one half hour per week until 15 hours of day length is reached. Laying hens must have a minimum of eight continuous hours of rest (black-out) per 24 hour period.
Use one 60-watt bulb for laying hens or very young birds. One 25-watt bulb (per 200 square feet of floor space) is adequate for growing pullets, broilers and capons.
Temperature & Ventilation
The optimum temperature range for birds over four weeks of age is 18° to 24° C. As temperature gets above or below this range, the production, growth rate or efficiency can suffer. To control temperature, ammonia, humidity, dust, disease and litter condition, fresh air movement is essential. Approximately five to 10 times as much ventilation is needed in warm temperature conditions as in cold conditions.
Water – The most important nutrient. Poultry should have free access to clean, fresh water at all times. During brooding, clean and disinfect water fountains daily. When starting day-old birds or after moving or transporting birds, give access to water before placing feed in the feeders. Water consumption will be three times as high when temperatures reach 38° C as compared to 10° C weather.
Grit – When birds have access to coarse litter or whole grains, an insoluble grit should be fed. Limit intake of grit to one pound per 100 pounds of feed or two pounds per 100 birds per week. Grit can be blended with their regular ration or offered free-choice in a separate feeder. But when offering a commercial prepared feed, grit is NOT needed (the feed is already ground).
Do not allow feeders to run empty or stale feed to accumulate. Never feed any feedstuffs that are mouldy, musty or suspect in any way.
Egg Storage & Cleaning
Eggs should be gathered two or three times per day. Wash, dry and cool them as quickly as possible to maintain freshness. The wash water should be warmer than the temperature of the eggs. Use detergents designed for washing eggs. Store eggs at approximately 10° C and 70% relative humidity.
Roosting & Nest Space
Roosts may be used for growing or mature birds, although they are not essential. Allow six inches of roost space per bird. To keep eggs clean, nests must be provided for laying hens. Allow one nest for every four hens. To prevent floor eggs, put nests in darkened area of the house. Keep the nests filled with adequate amounts of litter to prevent egg breakage and dirty eggs.
Space & Equipment Requirements
Absolute minimums per bird.
|Type of Bird||Age (weeks)||Floor Space||Feeder Spaces (linear inches)||Water Spaces (linear inches)|
|Leghorns||0 – 2||10.0 in2||1.0||0.25|
|2 – 6||0.7 ft2||2.0||0.5|
It is always a good idea to cull and destroy sick or lame birds. These birds are generally inefficient because they do not grow or produce eggs while continuing to eat feed.
By the end of the first production cycle (10 to 12 months of lay), many laying hens will naturally quit producing eggs and molt. These hens could be removed and slaughtered for meat, if desired. Birds in laying condition will have a large, bright, waxy-appearing comb, moist vent and flexible keel and pubic bones that are wide apart.
Non-layers will have a dull, small comb and dry vent with rigid keel. The distance between the pubic bones will be only one or two finger widths, while three or four fingers will easily fit between these bones of a bird in laying condition.
Leghorn hens may be molted (rested) after their first production cycle. After four to eight weeks of resting, the hens will return to production at a production rate somewhat less than their first cycle.
Almost every flock of birds is going to be exposed to a disease stress at some time or other. Many diseases can be prevented by keeping visitors and pet traffic at a minimum and controlling exposure to rodents and wild birds. A disease will usually result in a decrease in egg production or feed consumption, after which mortality may suddenly increase. An accurate diagnosis of the disease is necessary before treatment can begin.
Bird Health Problems
Coccidiosis: This disease is caused by a parasite called coccidia. The disease is common in both chickens and turkeys, as well as other animals. Masterfeeds Farm Choice brand poultry feeds contain Alltech® technology to aid in the development of immunity to this disease. Birds with this disease appear listless, pale and chilled and may also show bloody droppings. The disease may be treated with Sulfaquinoxaline or Amprolium in the water.
Mareks Disease: This disease affects the nerves and visceral organs of the chicken, resulting in paralysis and tumors of the internal organs. There is no treatment, however, vaccination at the hatchery is highly recommended.
Leg Problems: Twisted joints, swelled or bowed legs and curled toes will occur to a certain extent in most flocks of broilers and turkeys. However, management, nutrition, litter and disease can contribute to a higher incidence. To minimize the problem, follow feeding, floor space and equipment recommendations. Also keep the litter in good condition by removing wet spots and maintaining proper ventilation.
Breast Blisters: This condition is caused by constant contact with litter or equipment. The condition or incidence increases with wet litter, overcrowding and leg problems. The condition is most common with heavy broiler chickens or turkeys.
Cannibalism: This is a habit that develops in the form of feather picking, “pickouts” of the vent or picking at other areas on the bird. This bad habit can start at any age if conditions are right. The most common causes of cannibalism are overcrowding, too high a temperature, poor ventilation and high light intensity. Remove any affected birds, maintain adequate feed intake and correct any of the above management problems. Beak trimming could be considered to help correct the problem.
Lice and Mites: These parasites can steal profits without being noticed. They can cause severe decreases in growth rate. Lice can easily be detected around the vent or base of the feathers. Mites will appear as a sprinkling of gray pepper in the vent area. Both lice and mites can be controlled by insecticides. Three or four treatments at 10 day intervals may be needed.
Internal Parasites: Worms commonly infest the intestinal tract of birds. The most common are the large round worms, caecal worms and tape worms. Good sanitation between flocks and control of wild birds and insects will help prevent infestation of worms.