A worldwide movement
Poultry producers worldwide are taking steps to phase out antibiotics in their production – some because of government regulations and others due to consumer demands.
Historically, antibiotics have been used in different phases of a broiler's lifecycle. Typical use cases are:
- Treatment of bacterial infections
- Treatment of day-old chicks in the hatchery to avoid infections and to reduce the effects of poor farm conditions during brooding
- In the feed as a growth promoter
There is a general acceptance of the therapeutic use of antibiotics to treat infections. However, the use of antibiotics in hatcheries and as a growth promoter is decreasing worldwide.
Optimize production without antibiotics
Phasing out antibiotics means that the chickens are more susceptible and have less resistance to illness. The chickens are therefore more vulnerable towards other factors such as climate, feed, and water.
An optimal climate is one of the main factors for optimal poultry production, and several aspects influence it:
- Air velocity (Chill effect)
- Air quality: CO2, ammonia, dust
Day-old chicks start their life being partly cold-blooded. It means that the temperature surrounding the chicks is crucial for their body temperature. They need to have the correct body temperature (40.0-40.5o Celsius) to grow and to develop the organs like the cardiac, respiratory, and digestive system. The optimal temperature will result in optimal growth, but also the immune system can only be developed optimally if the body temperature is correct and kept stable. A robust immune system is the best alternative to antibiotics.
A climate and ventilation system must ensure that day-old chickens maintain the optimal body temperature that allows them to seek feed and water. Later in the production cycle, the correct temperature ensures the best productivity for bodyweight and FCR (feed conversion ratio).
Traditionally, natural ventilation has been widely used in poultry production, either in an open house with curtains going up and down, or in combination with a tunnel system. With natural ventilation, however, it is difficult to control the temperature.
A mechanically ventilated house in a closed production environment enables you to control the climate in the production facility. Several different ventilation principles for mechanically ventilated houses are available. The most typical ones are Side Mode, Tunnel and Combi-Tunnel. Side Mode ventilation, which uses wall inlets for air intake is particularly well suited for temperate regions. Tunnel ventilation creates an air current lengthwise in the house and is well suited for regions where cooling with air velocity is always required. Combi-Tunnel is a combination of the two principles – wall inlets are used to ventilate the house during a cool season and the Tunnel principle during the hot season. It is the most applicable ventilation system in the subtropical climate and most tropical regions.
Side mode ventilation uses wall inlets for air intake and is especially suited for temperate regions.
Tunnel mode ventilation creates an air current lengthwise in the house and is well suited for regions where cooling with air velocity is always required.
With SKOV’s ventilation systems, you can make sure that the climate factors in the house are always optimal for the chickens’ current weight and age. Our ventilation systems ensure that the temperature in the house is kept stable and uniform throughout the house. By avoiding drafts and fluctuating temperatures, you give the chickens the best conditions for growth and healthy well-being even without, or a reduced, use of antibiotics.
Monitoring your production
Keeping a close eye on your production is always recommended, but with an antibiotic-free production, it gets even more critical to monitor the well-being and continuous growth of the chickens.
With Episcope Trend Warnings from SKOV, you can monitor your production and get early warnings. Trend Warnings will give you warnings when irregularities are detected in your production, such as fluctuating or uneven temperatures throughout the house. Factors that compromise the optimal conditions are identified early on, which gives you time.
This video will explain how Trend Warnings can warn you of changes in your production and how you can use the measurements to optimize your production.