How to manage poultry production this winter

Winter can have a negative effect on poultry production and this is an important concern for poultry. During winter when the temperatures drop, various problems occur such as: the reduction in egg production, water intake, fertility, and hatchability. The following points should be considered to achieve better production parameters during the winter season:

  • Orientation of house
  • Ventilation
  • Litter Management
  • Feed Management
  • Water Management

Prior to day old chicks being placed in the house, the surface of floor should be covered with a bedding material called litter. It gives comfort to the birds. A good quality litter serves as an insulator in maintaining uniform temperature, and also absorbs moisture and promotes drying. It dilutes faecal material thus reducing contact between birds and manure.

During winter birds take in less water, but it is necessary to still give a continuous supply of fresh water which can be consumed. Water must be fresh and clean. In ice falling areas, blockages of pipes is a major problem due to freezing of the water lines. When temperatures drop below 0ºC, it is important to carry out routine inspections of the pipelines, to avoid any blockages of water.

Many vaccines/ medicine/ anti-stress vitamins are given to poultry through water. It is important to ensure that the medicines/vaccines are given in less amounts of water so that the birds can consume all the medicated water since their intake is less in winter.

During winter it is also necessary to keep the poultry houses draft free but with plenty of ventilation, because if there is restricted ventilation it can cause ammonia build up in the air which causes respiratory problems. The birds need plenty of fresh air circulating around the house. There should also be an arrangement of exhaust fans to remove the impure air.

Preventing respiratory diseases and stress in the houses is crucial, especially during these cold months. Ensuring excellent bio-security measures are in place and a preventative program is followed will minimize the negative impact of winter’s viral and bacterial challenges.

Ask Bupo Animal Health for a preventative program to suit your farm.

Clinton Barnard
BAH- Poultry Specialist