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Rearing 1

Is it ok to use crumble feed during rearing stage?

Yes, crumble or mash are good for the rearing stage.

Would you recommend a 6-1 skipped feeding after 5 weeks in order to have an accurate dry weight sample during weighing in comparison to the recommended body weights from 5 weeks to 18 weeks?

Yes, the most accurate way to do sample weighing is during off-feed day. You can start your feed restriction program after 3-4 weeks to be able to give more feed volume to extend feed cleanup. Please take note that the weight indicated in Cobb supplements are dry weight from 2 to 22 weeks.

Do you recommend crumble feed for rearing and mash during the laying period?

Starter 1-4w (Small/Fine crumble)
Grower 5-15w (Coarse crumble)
Developer 16w-first egg (Coarse crumble)
Breeder 1 first egg-38 w (Coarse crumble)

Breeder 2 38-65w (Coarse crumble)

Rear 2

How frequent should the feeding management adjustment be done? When the BW uniformity of grower breeder flock is quite low?

During the rearing period, feed should be adjusted once a week. Use current weekly BW samples together with the feed guide as a consideration for the next week feed adjustment.  If the flock has a low BW and poor uniformity, it doesn’t mean that you need to adjust the feed more than one time a week. Please check the feed distribution, feed space per bird to fix uniformity issues, do proper grading when needed.  You may increase weekly feed more than the guide when the BW is below the standard and weekly weight gain is behind target but be careful and don’t overdo it. Remember, we expect the result of feed increment in body weight (feed response) 1-3 weeks later.

What is the possible cause of pullet tail pecking during growing with chain feeder systems?

Tail pecking can be triggered by feed management or nutrition. Broiler breeders are selected for high appetite for their optimal growth.  When we need to control the bodyweight by feed restriction, we need to be really careful and pay attention to ensure even/good feed distribution. Make sure you apply the correct alternative feeding program to attain a 30-60 minute clean-up time and water should be always available during off day and feed day.  Poor feed distribution or incorrect feeder space can cause this issue. Please follow “a progressive feeder space” program for chain feeders as below:
• 0-4 wks = 5 cm
• 5-8 wks = 9 cm
• 9-12 wks = 13 cm
• >12 wks = 15 cm
Sometimes, the issue in chain feeders is not due to insufficient feeder space, but because of too much/excessive feeder space.  When there is too much feeder space, the feed can’t be distributed well on the chain/track, and there may be some areas without feed on the chain. This can create the issue since hungry birds will try to pick anything to fulfill their feed requirement, and they may pick at birds’ tail/feather. Once it happens, tail pecking can spread to other birds and possible develop to cannibalistic behavior.
In the nutrient aspect, kindly talk to your nutritionist and make sure your feed nutrient follows our recommendation, especially Dig-methionine that contribute in feather growth/strength.

Cobb don't recommend increasing light intensity even for a short time during feeding. But some cobb technical recommendations indicate giving some light in feeding to provide better feed consumption per bird.

We need to keep light intensity at 5-7 lux during the rearing period which is sufficient for birds to find feed including small particles. What we mean by “giving some light during feeding time” are spot lights or spot lamps when the intensity is below 5-7 lux and fairly dark to find a small feed particle on feeder. It doesn’t mean to increase the light intensity in the whole house.  Some companies do not feed in the dark as the house is not totally dark. They put some spot lamps in the corners to help bird distribution. As long as “the spot lights” are not more than 5-7 lux in light intensity.  During the vaccination/grading you can use spot lamps or head lamps to help worker visibility only in the activity spot rather than adjust dimmer in the whole house to increase intensity.     

Rearing 3

Cobb highly suggests using total black out in rearing. How can I manage body weight in brown-out and open sided houses?

For brown-out shedding and open sided houses, we suggest higher BW standards than for open sided houses which is about ±100 gram (from 16-24 weeks of age) than the closed house standard. Please see Cobb 500 breeder supplement page 7.

What would happen if we managed the grading every day and give extra feed for small birds every day in a special pen? How can we manage the bird population in this small pen during rearing?

We don't recommend grading every day because this will create stress for the bird and interrupt normal growth and development. In general, grading should be done at 4 and 8 weeks of age and separate small birds in pens and give extra feed. Grading is a tool to improve flock uniformity but it's not tool to fix feed management issues. Farms should focus on feed distribution, progressive feeder space, water consumption, environment control and biosecurity for good flock uniformity. If you experience chick quality issues, we recommend doing an early grading at 7 days to recover super small chicks as soon as possible.

What is the target for percentage of uniformity in first week with good brooding management?

When chicks hatch normally, uniformity is 65%-70%. With good brooding management we expect to keep uniformity around 70% at 1st week.
Another indicator for good brooding management and uniformity is the number of super small chicks (BW 20% under standard) is less than 5% at 1st week.

Rearing 4

How is the amount of extra feed in small pens calculated?

Ideally, small birds should back to BW standard soon.
If doing grading at 7 days, small pen BW should back to standard at 4 weeks of age by giving an extra 5%-10% over the average feed.
If do grading at 4 weeks, then small pen BW should back to standard at 8 weeks of age by giving an extra  5% - 8% over the average feed.
Farms should focus on feed distribution, progressive feeder space, water consumption, environment control and good biosecurity.

Can we delay light stimulation at 23 weeks just to ensure almost all birds are ready for lay?

When you describe “all birds”, I will refer back to uniformity management again since we manage birds as flocks.
Delaying photo stimulation is an option when birds are not ready for photo stimulation due to either underweight, lack of flesh or low uniformity.

But don’t delay photo stimulation because

  1. Not enough fat reserve: If other indicators are good except not enough fat, then you must photo stimulate this flock. As we know, fat reserves take time and need high increment of feed for positive energy balance. I do not recommend doing high feed increments close to photo stimulation to build fat reserves rapidly. It will cause overstimulation and more metabolic problems later.

  2. Minority of birds are not ready: I discourage waiting if 15% of pullets are unprepared and compromise 85% of the flock that is ready for photo stimulation. The best way to manage this circumstance is separating the 15% of unprepared pullets and photo stimulate them later (22-23 weeks) if you have facilities and labor.

Please keep in mind, Broiler breeder are selectively bred for photo stimulation at 147-148 days to achieve maximum performance in an economical point of view.
Delaying photo stimulation will delay egg production, which will affect to TE/HH and make it difficult to control BW at a later period since the hen will require more nutrient for BW gain and disrupt the production schedule. The best solution is focusing on pullet management, building hen condition and good uniformity to meet the target at 147-148 days light stimulation. 

Rearing 5

Is there any correlation between body weight and fleshing or pelvic fat?

There is a study about the development of body composition of pullets and hens (Vignale et al, 2016) that show birds will develop lean mass (protein) with a high rate in rearing and then slowdown in production. For fat reserve, birds will develop fat mass after 12 weeks and continue to preserve fat in production. Both physiological developments will happen no matter how we feed birds (under/overweight, every day or skipped feeding). But body mass % or fat % will differ based on how we manage birds in rearing presenting in frame size, BW, fleshing and fat reserve.
To give you an example:
- Over frame size from overweight pullets and bring her BW back to STD during turn up phase: Since pullets have a big frame size, she requires more energy for maintenance and growth. A common mistake is trying to bring her BW back to STD with less feed increments during turn up. This will result in less flesh conformation and hard to get fat reserves. This is the point of no return, once birds become overweight during controlled growth, we must redraw the BW line from 15-21 weeks and let birds grow close to the redrawn line. We need to turn up her on time to get proper flesh and fat reserve. Target around 34 % achievement for overweight flock since we don’t want carryover high BW to the production period as well.

If you want to achieve proper frame size, keep birds on target for the Cobb BW STD and follow other management recommendations. You will see fleshing and fat reserve in these pullets with the Cobb STD BW. I do not recommend pushing high BW over STD in order to achieve flesh and fat.

How much extra feed should be given to underweight birds and how much less feed should be given to overweight birds?

There are several methods to calculate extra feed for small birds. I will share some of method that I’ve been used and it works well for your consideration.

“Percentage method”
This method works well with quick recovery during early age (1-4 weeks) when growth rate/week is high.
o Calculate the difference of actual BW from BW STD by percentage. Then, add extra feed followed by the diff percentage
o Example: At 3wks: When small pen has 15% BW difference from STD and feed guide is 37g. Add 15% in feed (37g x 1.15%=42.5g) and continue this calculation for 2 weeks. 

“Extra feed day method”
This method is applicable after grading at 4, 8 weeks
o Usually during this age, we have already applied feed skipped and calculate feed consumption/feed day
o Example: 4/3 feeding program with 91g feed/feeding day. Give the extra 91g in small pen as below
   - Don’t let feed allocation/feed day > peak feed.
   - Apply this method for 2 weeks continuously
   - Add extra feed on feed day only! E.g. 91g/4days=22.75g, 91g+22.75g=113.75g/day

To simplify feed management for Large birds, we can give same amount of feed as the medium bird group. Overweight birds require more energy for maintenance and growth. With the same feed amount as medium birds and same competition among heavy birds, this eventually will slow down weight gain and BW in heavy birds.

If body weight is attained but fleshing is behind the target, what could we do in this case?

1. Over Frame size from overweight pullet: As pullets have big frame size, she requires more energy for maintenance and growth. A common mistake is trying to bring her BW back to STD with less feed increments during turn up. This will result in less fleshing conformation. Once birds become overweight during controlled growth, we must redraw the BW line from 15-21 weeks and let bird grow close to the redrawn line. We need to turn up feed on time but target around 34 % achievement since we don’t want high BW to carryover production period.

2. Nutrition point: Cobb pullets can achieve BW with high calorie feed but need optimal protein and amino acids to develop fleshing conformation. Pullets must receive the minimum requirement of nutrients in each period of the growth stage. Please see the Cobb nutrition recommendations and nutrient intake on pages 5, 7 and 15 in Cobb500 breeder management supplement.

Rear 6

What is most accurate for weekly weighing during the growing period? Off feed or 6 to 8 hours after feeding?

At 2-22wks, Cobb BW STD will be dry BW (without feed).
If you have flocks with prolonged feeding time in early weeks, so birds are still on daily feeding, I suggest to weigh bird before feeding time.
If doing every day feeding during 2-22wks, weigh birds before feeding is the most accurate way for the weekly sample.
At 23 weeks, BW will back to wet BW again. I recommend to weigh birds 6-7 hour after feed time from 23 weeks.
For accuracy on BW sampling: I recommend using a sampling pen to prevent bias by selection and weighing at the same time/same day at a designated spot. Example:  Weigh birds at 2 pm, every Saturday.

Is it required to revise energy/protein value in winter or summer considering birds feed intake quantity?

It will be easier for the farm manager to adjust feed quantity and keeping the feed formulation consistent in such a situation. In a typical floor housing setup, we may consider decreasing energy intake per day by average of 2.0 kcal/1°C temperature rise from 21 to 26°C range. Example of a 5°C temperature rise will require a feed decrease of 3.6g per day in a standard 2,800kcal/kg diet. Whereas, energy intake per day will be increased by average of 5.5 kcal/1°C temperature drop from 21 to 16°C range. The basic approach is to measure average daily temperature and calculate from there, then deduct some wind chill by natural wind factor if any. However, bodyweight progress along with production will need to be monitored too. This is because birds will also end up taking more protein when we increase feed amount and it is not ideal to control energy levels by using feed alone in a much lower temperature environment. Heating is recommended if temperature drops below 18°C. Alternatively, birds will typically take less feed due to hot environment and eventually lose their productivity when temperature goes above 27°C without windchill effect.

Please give some key points about skip feeding in the pullet stage.

We will consider implementing a skip feeding program in the pullet stage when the feed clean-up time is less than 30 minutes. 6/1, 5/2, skip-a-day are examples of skip feeding program, usually practiced from 4-5 weeks until 18-20 weeks depending on the situation. For example, we are currently providing 50g feed/bird/day at 8 weeks old. So, the total feed per bird for 7 days (1 week) would be 350g. In the 5/2 program, we will give this total 350g in 5 days only and 2 days no feed. So, the final feed allocation will be example day1 70g, day2 70g, day3 no feed, day4 70g, day5 70g, day6 no feed, day7 70g. By doing this, we allow more feeding time to the pullets by increasing the feed quantity but still maintaining a total of 350g feed per bird for the week. This practice will help the pullets achieve better flock uniformity as it gives more time for the smaller birds to eat.

What type of light should use in the brooding house, LED or incandescent bulb?

Using LED lights in poultry houses versus incandescent bulbs is definitely gaining attention due to LED efficiency and lifespan. During brooding, focus on light intensity >60 lux and good light distribution in the brooder. These will provide the correct environment for birds to learn and find feeder and water. For brood grow lay system that use LED lights with adjustable dimmer controls, it is important to choose the correct color temperature of around 2700-3000K with good light distribution to get correct photo stimulation. For more information please go to the Cobb website and find a good article on LED lighting by Andrew Bourne, our Cobb World Technical Service Specialist.

What is right age to transfer females to the breeder farm? As we have to transfer the males first, what is the recommended age for male and female transfer to the breeder farm?

Both female and males are usually transferred together from rearing to the laying house around 20-22 weeks. The sexual development and feeder setup will determine if we need to consider transferring males first or later than females. If the male feeder set up in rearing is different from production, we highly recommend to move males 5-7 days prior females, so they learn the new feeding system. If the male sexual maturity is ahead of the female, males can be transferred 5-7 days after females to allow females an additional 5-7 days to mature. Otherwise we can consider temporarily mixing fewer males 5-7% at the point of mixing and slowly increasing to 8-9%. On the other hand, if male sexual maturity is behind the females, then males can be transferred earlier than females to train them to the male feeder and accelerate the male maturity.

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