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Sexually mature hens.JPG

Female Management 

Female Management 1

How would you strategize feeding to peak production in CCS housing with two body weight categories, small and medium/large in pens?

This is a very tricky question. Please remember that when we do grading, our primary objective is to synchronize the weight and feed in all groups of birds on or before 12 weeks or not later than 16 weeks. Since you are asking about CCS housing (I assumed you are using auto feeders) it will be very hard and complicated on your part to feed different groups of birds in production since you are using automatic feeders. This can work for manual feeding systems with multiple pens but not for auto feeders without pens in production especially if you have auto nest as you will be feeding based on production.

How can we control the over stimulation of follicular development and fatty liver hemorrhage problem at peak time?

Fatty liver syndrome (FLS) is a metabolic disorder attributed to heavy pullets at photo stimulation, excess feed before onset of egg production and inadequate feed withdrawal post-peak production. Pullet bodyweight control and our recommended rearing feed curve works well to minimize the incidence of FLS during production. Cobb birds are very efficient bird so to prevent overfeeding them, feed according to the recommended weight curves. Make sure not to overstimulate them with either feed or light from 20-24 weeks of age. Feeding to peak and timing of feed withdrawal are also equally important factors that help control incidence of FLS.

What should we consider converting our farm from open to closed housing?

The first is ventilation control. In open sided houses you have no ability to control the air flow, ventilation will depend on the natural environment.  In the closed houses, we can modify the ventilation. For example, during the hot day, with fans and cooling pads running, we provide cooled air flow so the birds will be comfortable, even when the outside temperature is high. With this, we can increase the density without worrying about high mortality due to heat stress.  Second, with closed houses, we can manipulate light duration and intensity. We want to provide 8 hours at 5-7 lux in the rearing and then increase to 12 hours at 50-100 lux at photo-stimulation. In production, we maximize the hours to 14-15 per day.  With this lighting program, birds will be synchronized in maturity.  In open sided house it is not possible to provide 5-7 lux with 8 hours since the house is exposed to natural light (sun light).  The third reason is biosecurity. With closed houses, you can control biosecurity better. For technical considerations like electricity, number of fans, housing size, cost, etc., contact a consultant (usually from the equipment company) who can provide information.

Female Management 2

How much does housing, open versus closed, impact production percentage?

It is really dependent on your management/husbandry, because a lot of factors can affect production percentage.  But, definitely closed houses will improve performance if managed correctly.  In Indonesia, most breeder companies started to convert from open to closed houses back in 1998 to 2000 since they realized the benefit of closed house.  The investment of converting the house will be returned economically with better production, lower mortality, and higher house capacity.    

Are there some advantages to over stimulating pullets, for example only 7-8 mature follicles?

There is no advantage to over stimulating. However, 7-8 mature follicles (more than 1 cm in diameter), is still normal. We don’t want a hen with more than 8 matured follicles, as she is considered overstimulated. 

Before peak production, how much fat pad in cm is optimum?

To decide start of photo stimulation, we don’t measure fat pad in cm, but only measure the present of fat, if there is a fat we consider it as “yes” bird, if there is no fat we consider it as “no” bird, 90-95% pullet should be “yes” birds when you start light stimulation.

Female Management 3

What is the ideal wavelength of light for optimal production in PS?

We recommend 2700-3000K in color temperature which is around 600 nm in wavelength.

Is there any relation between double yolk eggs and over feeding?

Yes, over feeding can cause too many follicles to mature at the same time, which will lead to a double yolk issue.

If the production rise is more than the standard rise, can we double the recommended feed increase after 3 days? 

I prefer to follow the conservative feeding program (increasing feed with every 10 % increase in egg production and not giving the increment in less than three days).  In the case that production increases rapidly, I will wait another three days before giving further increments.

Female Management 4

What can we do when we find an unproductive bird or a female with follicles starting to atrophy? Should we cull it immediately or is there any treatment?

If the hen stopped laying because of diseases, she may be back to production after recovery. You can check the data of the flock for outbreak/issue history. The production graph might have two spikes. This means that hens went back into production after the infection cleared.  However, some viral infections cause follicles to atrophy permanently. This cannot be treated. But be careful, before culling. Put hens in designated pen and observe them. It is common practice in some countries to select un-productive females at >55 weeks of age to save feed costs.

You don't recommend giving pelleted feed during the production phase due to the short cleanup time. I agree with that. But, what about crumble feed? Is it recommended? What if the condition (weather) is so hot that the birds’ intake is very low? Do we still have to give the birds mash feed?

As long as your feed mill can manufacture crumble feed, I prefer to use crumble for all stages of the flock. The particle size of crumbles should be different based on the growing stage as below:
- Starter 1-4w (small crumble)
- Grower 5-16w (medium crumble)
- Developer 17w-first egg (large crumble)
- Breeder 1 first egg-38 w (large crumble)
- Breeder 2 38-65w (large crumble)

Can you explain the energy calculation for peak feed allotment?             

Energy for activity can be different based on your housing system. For example, the energy a hen needs if she is 3.6 kg BW with production of 86% and growth of 8.6 grams per day, the energy partition would be like this, 98.3 multiplied by 2.61 = 256 Kcal for maintenance. How much energy for production? First, we calculate egg mass. Egg mass is the percentage of egg production multiplied by egg weight.  Calories needed for egg production is 49.3 multiplied by 2.4 which equals 118 Kcal/day.  Then growth, 8.6 gram per day multiplied by 8.6 equals 48 kcal. Energy for activity is 15% of maintenance, so 256 multiplied by 15% equals 38 kcal. In total 256 plus 118 plus 48 plus 38 equals 460 kcal. If your feed has an energy equivalent of 2800 kcal/kg, you need to allocate 164 g/hen/d (460/2800). If your feed has an energy equivalent of 2900 kcal/kg, you need to allocate 159 g/b/d (460/2800).

What do you think if I only use 12-hour lighting to save electricity consumption?              

I think 12 hours is too short, even in the closed house the lighting duration should cover the natural day-length.  In equatorial countries, the day length can be more than 12 hours, and remember that before sunlight and after sunset we still can see the light for some time.  For Cobb breeds, I will not go shorter than 14 hours.

Female Management 5

Please suggest how to minimize floor eggs in production period.

Floor eggs can be caused by lack of nest training or poor nest box management. Floor eggs are a bigger issue in deep litter housing (versus 2/3 slats) when the birds don't get used to jumping up and down on the slats. To train pullets to jump, place a perch in the litter every 12 meters beginning at 12 weeks of age. To reduce floor and slat eggs, use a “walking pattern” beginning at the first egg. By walking we disturb the birds and discourage laying eggs in the wrong locations (corners, litter, near the wall, near partitions etc.). Please note, don’t disturb nest box areas during walking since that is the place where we want the birds feel comfortable (to enter the nest and lay eggs).

What is the effect if we increase the lighting time from 15 to 16 hours, can it increase egg production, especially at the age above 50 weeks of age?

I don’t think adding light duration at those ages will help with production. It will be wasting the electricity costs in my opinion.  The max lighting hours should be given at 27-28 weeks of age in birds with optimal condition. Additional lighting after 28 weeks of age will not help production.

What should we consider to withdrawal feed after peak production?

There is no exact standard for feed withdrawal, several points to consider for feed withdrawal are:
- Level of peak production, 86-88%?
- Amount of peak feed, 440-470 Kcal/bird?
- Weight gain of the hens, from onset of production to peak (ideal increase: 16-18%)
- Condition and body reserves of the hens, palpate the hens!
- Feed consumption time, normal or extended?
- Egg weight
- Time of the year, hot or cold weather

Female Management 6

How can I reduce egg yolk peritonitis problem?

1. Ensure that your pullets are ready for photo stimulation by managing bird to achieve the bodyweight and goal of each stage of growth and development. For the moment of photo stimulation, there are several indicators to consider (age, bodyweight, conditions and uniformity).  Peritonitis can happen when poorly conditioned pullets, which have less fleshing and fat reserve and an immature reproductive system, are forced to start laying eggs by photo-stimulating them.  You will see high numbers of peritonitis in flocks with poor uniformity since the spread of bodyweights includes small birds that’s are not ready and also heavy birds that are conditioned.
2. Ensure that you have proper stimulation by managing the lighting program and feed increments. As we know, birds are stimulated by light and feed. We must control the “after photo stimulation until onset of lay” period to have optimal stimulation and controlled progression of sexual maturity with steady BW gain. We recommend increasing feed 2-4g after photo stimulation until 5% production. The light length stimulation program for dark out rearing is 8 hrs straight to 12 hrs and gradually increase 1 hr every 2 weeks until 15 hrs. If we over stimulate the flock with either feed or light, the sexual maturity will accelerate and lead to over-stimulation of follicle development and excessive bodyweight gain.
You will see:
- Super Ovulation: The ovary will be overstimulated, an excessive number of follicles over 1 cm will be developed. We prefer to see 6-7 follicles per cluster during peak. Superovulation will show 8-13 follicles similar in size.
- % Double yolk:  high at 4-5% at peak production. This is an indicator of overstimulation conditions.
- High mortality: When there is no hierarchy between follicles, resulting in 2 follicles dropping into the infundibulum and creating a double yolk egg, internal laying, and/or egg yolk peritonitis.
3. Other environmental managements: Prevent stress that may impact the birds’ health and wellness e.g. feed and water stressing, ventilation or diseases challenges. These will rupture follicle development and may not maintain correct form (Flaccid yolk), resulting in internal lay and a high risk of egg peritonitis.

How can I prevent high depletion due to metabolic problems at 26-30 weeks? Is there any correlation with growing management?

There are several intervention/prevention plans.
• Apply Cobb feed specifications for Cobb birds and correct type of feed such as changing grower feed to developer feed at 106 days of age to develop maturity.
• Correct feed turn up during 15 -21 week of age for good development of maturity and birds’ composition
• Observe fleshing and birds’ composition at 12,16, and 20 weeks of age to have information to plan feeding schedules and 1st photo stimulation correctly
• Correct management for good uniformity such as feed distribution, progressive feeder space, water consumption, and uniform environment

• Do not push too much feed after photo stimulation

Are there any impacts of poor feeding management to hatchability?

Yes, especially when the flock has poor male feeding management.  Normally male feed cleanup time is really quick (15-20 minutes). Without good feed distribution, some males will take less feed and lose conditioning, while other males will take more feed becoming overweight. Both conditions are not good for male performance.  Female management also plays a role in hatchability. If we don’t have good feeder restriction, males can steal feed from female feeders and become overweight.  Overweight males will have poor fertility due to failed mating (incomplete mating), as they cannot balance correctly during mating. 

Female Management 7

The Answers You Need

Are there any impacts of poor feeding management to hatchability?

Yes, especially when the flock has poor male feeding management.  Normally male feed cleanup time is really quick (15-20 minutes). Without good feed distribution, some males will take less feed and lose conditioning, while other males will take more feed becoming overweight. Both conditions are not good for male performance.  Female management also plays a role in hatchability. If we don’t have good feeder restriction, males can steal feed from female feeders and become overweight.  Overweight males will have poor fertility due to failed mating (incomplete mating), as they cannot balance correctly during mating. 

On the basis of which criteria can we say that in our flock has good sexual synchronization?

A good sexually synchronized flock will have high hen receptivity and high mating efficiency. In other words, the scratch or mating area will have a balanced ratio of males to females. This would give us a basic idea. However, a more comprehensive guide to determine the correct male ratio should also take some criteria into consideration.
1) Weight differential between males and females at mixing.
2) Body composition, frame size and maturity development between males and females at mixing.
3) Genetics - there are differences in maturation rates, temperament and activity levels between male breeds and strains. Specifically for the Cobb MV males, they may be slightly delayed in maturity and need to be managed closely to achieve the full reproductive potential. However, by maintaining the BW on standard, we don’t see many issues.

At what age should we start photo stimulation in dark out houses?

Ideally we would like to have the correct BW 2.4 2.5 kg with correct female composition as fleshing #3  and #4 for 95% of the flock and fat deposit in 90% of the flock at 147-150 days of age. In the case that the bird’s composition is not ready, we can delay the first photo stimulation but should not delay photo stimulation beyond 154 days of age.

Female Management 8

What is the effect of ahemeral lighting programs on egg

We don’t recommend an ahemeral lighting program to customers. Customers can achieve good production with our genetic development combined with good management and a regular light program. For commercial breeders, we need to have consistent and practical management programs. The ahemeral lighting such as 14 hr  dark/ 14 hr light is not practical as well.

Would you explain photo refractory and what is the relation of it with egg production and quality?

Photo refractory means the inability to respond to light. Once pullets don't experience correct lighting either intensity or light length, they will lack a sexual response to a regular photo stimulation program. Consequences include a delay in the onset of lay, lower peak and poor persistency, and at depletion, there will be fewer hatching eggs per hens housed (HE/HH).
Hens are also prone to become overweight since they are delayed in production and overweight hens lay larger but fewer eggs.
Large egg size is difficult to manage as they are more prone to cracks.
In short, the flock usually doesn’t peak or persist well since they don't have good uniform sexual maturity. 

What can we do to reduce prolapse or cannibalism in breeders?                      

Prolapses can happen when under conditioned pullets are photo stimulated. If the reproductive tract is not fully developed and birds are forced to lay, this can lead to oviduct eversion and prolapse. Double yolks, the result of over-stimulation and over feeding can increase the risk of prolapse as well.  So, to prevent this situation, make sure your pullets are conditioned (age, bodyweight, fleshing, fat deposit) before photo stimulation.  Flocks with poor uniformity usually have a high incidence of prolapse since birds are not uniform during lighting, some of them are ready, some of them are not ready, so it’s important to maintain good uniformity beginning in rearing.  Cannibalism happens when other birds are attracted to and peck the blood on the vent of prolapsed birds. If we can prevent prolapse, we can prevent subsequent cannibalism. If you have birds with prolapse in your house, cull them immediately. They will not recover.

Will long storage (25 to 30 days) of GP hatching egg effect PS performance? Will old GP flock (more than 62 weeks) effect PS performance?

Short answer to the first part of your question is No. The long storage will have some effect on hatchery performance and eventually the quality of chicks hatched. However, with correct brooding and management practices, the PS performance will be ok. On the second part of your question, short answer is also No. However, we are all aware that age of the source flock may contribute to some variations in DOC uniformity and 7 days depletion. Most PS farms are starting with at least 70% and above chick uniformity and this is acceptable. Again, with good brooding management such as feed, feeding space, drinker, temperature, ventilation, etc., most farms are able to achieve good uniformity with low 7 days depletion and eventually good PS performance.

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