MANAGEMENT OF LAYER BIRDS
August 11, 2017

Layers

The female poultry bird which is reared for an egg laying is known as layers. These are sexually mature birds producing an egg.

Laying Phase

The birds produce their eggs between 20 – 72/75wks of age. Means laying starts at 20 wks of age and will lay the eggs up to 72 – 75 wks of age after that the egg production will decrease and the bird will be culled. This laying period is also known as laying cycle or biological year when bird reaches 5% egg production. The birds which completed their whole 75 wks laying phase is termed as “spent Hen”. The grower birds transferred to a layer house at 18 weeks of age

Cages

Now a day’s mostly all the layer farmer they are using a California cage system of rearing instead of pen system of housing because the space requirement is less, less problem of ectoparasite, less chances of disease spreading, more clean eggs and we may get actual egg production of birds, when we followed cage system of rearing. If we compared Space requirement in pen system it should be 1950 cm2 per bird while in cage 900cm2 per bird space is required. Some disadvantage with cage systems are wet litter, fly problem and high initial investment so, for a small poultry farmer high initial investment is a big problem.

Site Selection

  • A good market for egg exists.
  • Land and labour are available easily at cheaper rates.
  • Electricity, water supply, roads and drainage are readily accessible.
  • The house should be 100m away from highways and no crowded areas.
  • Land is elevated to avoid problem of water lodging during rainy season.
  • Enough space is available for future extension.

Various industrial events are now organised in Kenya which bring forward different management practices and technologies related to efficient supervision of layer birds.

LIGHT SCHEDULE IN LAYER HOUSE

Role of Light in Layer Birds

This light source enter in to eyes of birds induces response in hypothalamus, which affects the secretion of gonadotropic hormones and these hormone affect the activity of gonads and will responsible for reproductive behaviour of birds. Rate of egg production and aged sexual maturity are affected by a pattern of lighting.

Mostly in grower period the light should not be increase but in layer phase 22nd week onwards the light should increase at 15-30 minutes per week and it reach 16 hrs of total light [Means Natural light + Artificial light] at 33 weeks of age. During the laying period light should not decrease but increase 17 hrs light/day when birds lay for about 6 months of laying phase, light should not increase more than 17 hrs because there is not any kind of advantage over 17 hrs of light.

Source of light

Mercury vapour light, Fluorescent and incandescent light may be used. The distance between 2 bulbs is 10 feet. The height of bulb 7 – 8 feet from floor wall and if we are using a tube light instead of bulb than between two tubes light the distance should be 15 feet.

FEEDING MANAGEMENT

The quality and quantity of feed with method of feeding has got major contribution in the environment component, controlling the productive performance. This feed accounts for 65 – 70% expenditure in production of poultry. Hence, the due care must be taken for correct feeding. Feed should be balanced, devoid of toxic principles, free from bacterial contamination and anti-nutritional factor. Both under and over feeding which leads to depletion of body reserves and excessive fat deposition respectively is harmful in the form of drop in egg production or stunted growth.

Adult birds should be feed at least twice in a day. Feed in the poultry shed should not stock more than a one day’s requirement to avoid spoilage by rates. Feeders should not fill more than ½ to 1/3 level to minimize feed wastage. The finished feed should not stock more than 1 to 1½ months because it may develop rancidity/fungus. The feed in feeders should be stirred at 4 – 5 times in a day to minimize formation of cakes.

Table 1: Feeds for layers and their scientific requirement

Age Category Type of feed ME kcal/kg Protein (%) min. Crude fibre (%) max. Ca % P % Salt % Approx. Quantity required
21 & above Layers Layer mash 2650 18 6 3-3.5 0.5 0.6 40kg (110g/day/bird)

Layers are rather maintained on controlled feeding to avoid fat deposition, which may hamper further laying. Generally layer feeding is divided in 2 phases. 1st phase is from 18/20 to 42 weeks and 2nd phase 43-72/75 weeks/till culling. Energy content is increased by 50-100 kcal/kg of feed in second phase.

Table 2: Average daily feed consumption of layer (light breeds) depending on age and laying percentage

Age Laying percentage Daily feed / day / layer (g)
18 4 70
19 9 74
20 15 77
21 22 80
22 45 85
23 70 85
24 85 95
25 92 100
26 93 105
27-28 94 110
29-30 95 120
31-32 94 120
33-35 93 118
36-38 92 115
39-41 91 115
42-45 90 114
50-58 88-83 112
59-63 82-79 112
64-72 78-75 110

Note: Above figures are only guidelines of high producing breeds under standard conditions. The actual performance may vary depending on breed, climate, the health of birds, management and quality of feed.

Table 3: Vaccination Schedule (For Viral Diseases):

Sr. No. Age of Birds Name of Disease Route of administration Dose/bird
1 Day old Marek’s disease S/C, Neck/Wing Muscles 0.2ml
2 4-6th day Ranikhet disease F1 Strain I/Nasal or I/Ocular 1 drop
3 11th day Marek’s Disease

(Booster dose)

S/C, Neck/Wing Muscles 0.2ml
4 14th day, 2nd week IBD/Gumboro disease intermediate Strain Drinking Water As per Manufacture
5 21st day,3rd week IBD, Booster dose -Do- -Do-
6 35th day, 5th week Ranikhet disease Booster dose. F1 Strain I/Nasal or I/Ocular 1 drop
7 7th week Fowl Pox Wing web Prick Method
8 8th  week Ranikhet disease, R2B (Mukteshwar) Starin I/M, Thigh Wing Muscles 0.5ml
9 16-18th week Killed Ranikhet & Gumboro disease vaccine I/M in Breast or Thigh muscles 0.5ml

In Kenya, there are now various platforms available to have an insight into the poultry and livestock industry. Such industrial events bring together various companies from the worldwide industry to showcase their technology and innovative techniques to develop the industry.

Article Author:
Dr. Yogesh D. Padheriya and Dr. Panna D. Rabari1
Instructional Livestock Farm Complex
College of Veterinary Science & A. H.,
Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari
1 Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of VPH, College of Veterinary Science, AAU, Anand

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