The rainy season is one that is not as good for you and me as it is for poultry. With the onset of rains and the catastrophic events accompanied by it then arises precautionary measures. Just like you and I would wish to continue benefiting from the stock of poultry so does t
he poultry themselves clutch close to each other and hope for sunny days ahead. But before it gets sunny and a few birds sold or left to go the “natural” way what then are some of the considerations for farmers to take up or be aware of during the rainy season.
As the cool weather has already crept in the farmer, have to put in place special considerations. One of which is the shelter from the rain that is the need to have coops that are of the average considerations to prevent birds from being rained on. This can be in the coops as well as shelter areas for emergency situations. There is a need to ensure that the birds have a place to get away from the rain. Chicken too do not like the hard rains and would prefer to be under cover. As a farmer, you have to take measures to have roosts so that birds do not sleep on wet grounds. Temperature is not much of consideration to the health of mature birds except when this gets to a freezing point. However, the young ones should be under controlled temperatures. Litter management should be an area of concern during wet seasons. As the continuous turning and shaking of litter once a week is advisable. There is a need for the litter to be dry to and once it gets wet to be changed immediately. Wet litter promotes microbial growth that can be harmful to the birds in addition to producing toxic gasses not conducive to poultry health. The spraying of germicides and bactericidal sprays is essential in keeping diseases at bay.
Chicken would also tend to feed more during the rainy season as they burn more calories to maintain the requisite body metabolism. The calories consumed in turn help them to keep warms. Grass and other weeds even though being a familiar feed to the birds are of not so much nutritional value. During the rainy season, it is advisable to feed the birds more on grains to supplement the nourishment they get from early and late feeding on insects. For those with fully caged birds, it is a requirement to purchase enough food so as not to be caught up in the hustle to restock. Further, this should be well stored particularly on wooden structures and not directly on the floor. Keep some distance between the storage material and the wall. The floor should always be dry to prevent mold and fungus from forming which is harmful to birds. Infections such as arising from alpha toxin can be witnessed during this time. Some of the challenges that can be faced during this period include the delay in egg production, delay in growth, death of poultry, low food conversion, and even lever tumor.
The third point of concern is the birds drinking of water that is in pools as they roam freely in the compound. The water they drink is most probably contaminated with worms and pathogens. As such the birds would absorb these in their body and birds are as such affected by the worms and pathogens. They tend to be skinny and feed more during this periods. Farmers should then use wormers but should take precaution to read the labels on the direction for use and seek medication from qualified personnel. Drinking water should further be treated with chlorine or filtered and precipitated for 24 hours. Critical consideration of the water to chlorine ration should, however, be considered.
During the rainy season, there is a tendency for “mud balls” to form on the feet of birds. This is usually as a result of scratching of the ground in such for worms and insect. On worst case scenarios these can form hard balls and even lead to cracking of legs as such allowing for contamination. As a caring farmer, you should look for such balls and remove them from time to time.
A reduction in egg production is also a condition that is common during rainy season. Farmers should however not worry about this as remedies exist to improve the situation. During this period, the day length is usually shorter, and there is a need to fool the birds by providing a timed lighting system. Birds often lay eggs about the day length as light act as a way of stimulation. Hens would either lose feathers during this season a condition referred to as molting or completely stop laying. Is such advisable to use the timed lighting system that goes on after sunset up to 9-10 p.m. the bulbs should be in the range of 25-40 watts and not the regular lighting system.
By: Brian Obinga