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Growing (3-9 weeks)

  • How to set the correct light program in rearing according to your geographical situation, house type and production objectives.
  • How to promote correct pullet growth during this period.
  • How to use the chicks feathering and natural molting pattern to monitor chick development.

 

Light Program

Basic Principles

  • The hours of light at the end of rearing should equal the hours of light at the production house before the start of light stimulation.
  • The light intensity should be similar to what pullets will find in the production house.

Design your light program in five steps

Step 1
WHAT IS THE DESTINATION OF THE PULLETS?
How many hours of light do you have in your country when the pullets will be moved to the production house?

 

Step 2
WHERE WILL THE BIRDS BE TRANSPORTED TO AND FROM?
This determines the number of hours at the end of the program.

Step 3
NUMBER OF HOURS IN THE REARING HOUSE
Depending on limitations in step 1 and 2, determines the optimum end hours for your type of production

Short: ending at 9 – 11 hours / day

Long: ending at 12 – 14 hours / day

  • Open and closed houses
  • More time for feed intake
  • High electricity cost in closed houses

Step 4
SPEED OF LIGHT REDUCTION
Driven by your market requirements, egg size target and feed intakes.

Slow: 1 hour reduction / week

  • Bigger egg size in production
  • More time for feed intake
  • Recommended for Hot climates

Fast: 2 hours or more reduction / week

  • Higher sensitivity to light, faster start in production
  • Energy savings
  • If it doesn’t appear that body weight targets will be met at week 5, it is highly recommended to change to a slower reduction to allow body weights to improve. Once achieved you can return to the fast reduction.

Step 5
LIGHT INTENSITY AT THE DESTINATION
Light intensity should be adapted across the different rearing periods.
  • During the first week a higher intensity is needed to activate the birds.
  • After week 5, the light intensity should be decreased to calm the birds and prevent pecking and cannibalism. This is also recommended in open rearing houses.
  • Light intensity in rearing never should be much lower than what will be expected in the production house.
  • Always avoid any sharp increases of light intensity after transfer.

Pullet development

Pullets show extreme body growth during this period. This is especially true if we consider the percentage of growth compared with the previous body weight.

Even more importantly, at this stage the birds will develop most of their organs, skeletal system and muscles which are essential for their health and performance. Therefore, correct growth during this period is key to having  productive and healthy adult birds.

If growth is delayed in this period, further compensatory growth will be impossible as bone frame. The birds can reach the standard weight but the body development will differ and hens can become overweight.
Check that you are achieving the correct body weight from week 1 and take corrective measures before it is too late.

It is very important to achieve the standard body weight at week 5.

Feed Intake

It is very important to promote good feed consumption to maintain correct development:

  • Temperature at week 3 should be
    22 – 23 °C. This can be slowly reduced
    over the next few weeks to around
    19 at 9 weeks of age.
  • Maintain a low stocking density. In cage
    rearing systems birds should distributed
    along all the cages as soon as possible.
  • Maintain the adequate feeder space.
  • Never restrict the feed intake.
  • Provide a “midnight snack” if the standard weight is not reached.
    In floor system rearing keep an eye on your
    bird’s behaviour during its implementation.

It is very important to achieve the standard body weight at week 5.

 

Feathering

Correct feathering is essential to enable a bird to regulate its temperature properly and is indicative of good development. A series of natural molting will occur during the rearing period. It is important that molting occurs in the indicated periods, otherwise it may signal delayed physiological development of the birds.

Key Points

  • Implement the lighting program according to your house conditions.
  • Never allow day length to increase during the rearing period.
  • Achieve the required body weight at weeks 5 and 6 of age.
  • Provide enough feeder/drinker space as soon as possible.
  • Follow the feathering and natural molting time-line to monitor physiological development.
  • Provide some alfalfa/Lucerne in floor rearing during this period.
<< Brooding (1-21 days) Rearing period (9-15 weeks) >>

Short: ending at 9 – 11 hours / day

Long: ending at 12 – 14 hours / day

Slow: 1 hour reduction / week

Fast: 2 hours or more reduction / week

LIGHT INTENSITY AT THE DESTINATION

PULLET DEVELOPMENT

FEED INTAKE

FEED INTAKE