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Farmers Tipped On Chick Management

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Herbert Musoke

Geoffrey Mukama, a veterinary doctor with Dutch feeds company Koudijs, says farmers need to understand that when you get day-old chicks, you become their ‘mother’. This means the farmer has to do whatever the mother would for the chicks, including keeping them warm, protecting them from predators or the rain and feeding them.

PREPARING THE BROODING HOUSE

Before stocking, the house must be swept and washed if it has been used before. The experts also advised farmers to disinfect the houses and all the equipment like feeders and drinkers. In case you are using nipples, they should be disinfected as well to kill any germs from the previous stock. “People fear brooding, saying it is a risky stage in poultry yet it is easy if one follows the right basics. “Getting someone else to brood for you becomes expensive yet you can do it and save money. Remember, you need to minimise expenditure to maximise profits,” Dr Mukama said. He urged farmers to maintain proper hygiene during brooding because the chicks are as delicate as a baby.

“The brooder should be weatherproof, where the conditions inside are controlled. Provide warmth for at least three to four hours before bringing the chicks into the house. “Its roof should not leak when it rains. Also, rodents like rats, wild birds and cats should be kept out of the brooder,” Mukama said. Aeration should be given special consideration. “Many farmers think brooders must be covered completely. This is wrong because it may cause death of the chicks,” Mukama said.

Curtains, including tarpaulins, leather or the black polythene bags used in building must be cleaned too. The farmer must also ensure that the house is warmed up to 33°C on the first day.

“Use husks, especially from coffee and rice. This is because husks from timber don’t absorb water and chicks may pick on them and chock them to death,” Dr Mukama said. Trainer Johan Verhoek said whatever a chick will develop into starts with the inputs on day one, adding that if chicks get stunted, there is very little a farmer can do it improve them. On stocking, a farmer should ensure that chicks weigh not less than 40 grams and check for disabilities. You should also have a record of whatever transpires every day, he advised.

Verhoek said farmers should observe their chicks to notice any reactions and changes. For example, when chicks are around the heat source, it means that the heat is not enough. When the chicks move to another corner, the heat might be too much or they are scared of something.

Water and feeds should be put in the house feeding troughs before the chicks are introduced. The feeds should be of the best quality with proper nutrients according to their size and body. “For instance, in the beginning, broilers are fed more proteins to build the body.

After gaining weight, they should be given more energy foods to enable them move to feeds and water,” Verhoek said. He added that lights should be left on during the brooding process because chicks should eat all the time.

You can start reducing the lights-on time slowly after brooding. “Make sure you have proper temperatures in the houses because if your chicks become cold, they will use the feeds to generate warmth for their bodies rather than making meat,” Verhoek said.

FARMING MASTER CLASSES

Dr Mukama and Johan Verhoek, a nutritionist and Koudijs representative in East Africa, were facilitating farming master classes organised by Vision Group with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands, KLM Airlines, Koudijs Nutrition BV and dfcu Bank. The Dutch company provided experts from the Netherlands for the training master class.

The sessions, which started with poultry farming yesterday, are televised live on Bukedde TV1 from 10:00am to 11:00am, with a repeat on Bukedde TV2 at 10:00pm. It will end on Friday.

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