Care and Management


Care of laying birds Use correct lighting schedule to ensure better performance. While light period should not be increased for growing birds, it would be advantageous to increase the light period or photoperiod for laying chicken from 22nd week of age onwards at the rate of 15 minutes per week so as to reach 16 hours of total photoperiod (natural plus artificial). When the birds have been in lay for about 6 months, the photoperiod may be increased to 17 hours per day. The light period may be constantly maintained throughout the rest of laying period. There is no special advantage in increasing the photoperiod over 17 hours per day. The lighting programme, if started, should be followed systematically.

Eggs produced under clean conditions are most profitable. To produce table eggs keep males out of flock. Fertile eggs deteriorate more quickly than infertile eggs. Provide clean good litter material in the nest boxes. Collect eggs as frequently as possible at least 3 times a day and keep them cool until they are disposed off. In warm weather increase collection to four or five times a day.

Handle eggs carefully. Collect the eggs in clean filler flats or in well-ventilated wire plastic baskets. Market eggs frequently. If the percentage of dirty eggs is more, check the management of layer house and take corrective measures.

Summer management Chickens prefer a laying house temperature of about 23.8oC and are comfortable up to 29.4oC. When the laying house temperature is above 32.3oC, birds are uncomfortable and the feed consumption is greatly reduced with low egg production. Over 37.8oC, the mortality rate is rather high. Coupled with these, the farmer often faces low egg prices also. Therefore adequate protection of laying birds during hot weather is emphasized.

The following tips are recommended to keep the birds comfortable and to curtail deaths during summer months.
  • Provide plenty of clean, cool drinking water at all times. Crushed ice may be provided in waterers if possible.
  • Plant shade trees around the poultry house.
  • Use a hosepipe sprinkler on the roof. Sprinkling can reduce temperature inside the house.
  • Clean the wire netting regularly to maintain perfect ventilation.
  • Reduce the thickness of old built-up litter. Two inches of fresh litter may be provided in the place of old litter.
  • Preferable to give artificial light in the early morning hours so that birds eat and drink more during the cooler hours of the day.
  • Provide plenty of soluble grit so that the hens can adjust their calcium intake. This will save a lot of cracked and broken eggs.
    Addition of electrolytes, Vitamin C, and probiotics in drinking water helps to alleviate heat stress.
  • Provide fan ventilation during summer.
  • Feed during cool hours of the day. Addition of vitamins and minerals in the feed is advantageous.
  • Hang wet gunny bags on the sides.
  • Keep water in mud pots.
  • Provide sprinklers in the pen.
Production of Hatching Eggs If hatching eggs are to be produced, cockerels have to be maintained. Rear at the rate of 15 cockerels per 100 pullets, cull- down to 12 cockerels at 10 weeks of age. For mating, provide one cock for 10-15 pullets of light breeds and 6-8 pullets of heavy breeds. Collect hatching eggs two weeks after introduction of males.

Gather hatching eggs 3 to 4 times a day. In hot or cold season increase the frequency of collections. As soon as the eggs are collected, store them at a temperature between 10 and 16oC with a relative humidity of 70 - 80%. Select eggs for hatching that meet the weight requirement and that are normal in shape, colour and texture. While storing and transporting hatching eggs, keep them with broad end up and handle the eggs very gently. If possible either set the eggs for incubation or market hatching eggs twice a week. Never hold hatching eggs for more than one week under ordinary conditions of storage.

The incubation period of chicken egg is 21 days. For successful hatching, eggs require specific conditions of temperature, turning and ventilation

Specific conditions for hatching

Temperature 1-18 days
19-21 days
37.5 37.8oC
36.9 37.5oC
Humidity 60% up to 18 days 70% thereafter
Turning Once every 4 hours up to 18 days  
Ventilation 1-18 days
19-21 days
8 changes/hour
12 changes/hour
(Source: Kerala Agricultural University)

Candle the eggs twice during incubation one on 7th day and the other on 18-19 days of incubation. Transfer the eggs to the hatches after candling on 18th day.

Care of growing chicks Debeaking  is an established procedure for poultry management, usually carried out by means of thermocautery by using electric debeaker. It prevents cannibalism and feed wastage. It is important to remove only 1/3 of the upper beak and slight cutting only of the lower beak. Debeaking can be carried out between one day and six weeks of age. Debeaking may have to be repeated sometimes before the pullets are placed in the layer house, say at about 16 weeks of age. Birds under backyard system are not to be debeaked. If indicated broiler chicks may be debeaked during the first week. A trained person should carry out debeaking.

Dubbing may be resorted to in day old chicken belonging to breeds, which have larger/lopped comb.

Backyard poultry The main breeds of backyard poultry are Kalinga Brown, Mumbai Desi, Rhode Island Red and CARI Nirbheek. The methods of rearing chicken in the backyard differ greatly from place to place. Though the housing conditions are almost adequate, proper attention to feeding is practically not given. Also the production potential of the desi flocks in such units may be greatly improved by introducing exotic blood. Therefore particular attention may be given to those important aspects namely,
  • Introduction of exotic males in the backyard units.
  • Rearing of cross-bred birds viz. Gramalakshmi, Gramapriya, etc.
  • To give better ventilation in the night shelter.
  • Timely preventive vaccinations and deworming.
  • To provide some amount of balanced feed rather than leaving the birds entirely for scavenging.
  • To provide some amount of balanced feed rather than leaving the birds entirely for scavenging.
  • A suitable all-purpose premix
Vaccination for chicken

The general guide for vaccination for chicken

Name of Vaccine Route Age of birds
La Sota or F vaccine Ranikhet Intranasal drop 3 to 7 days
Marek's vaccine (in Hatchery) Intramuscular 1 day
Infectious Bronchitis (1st dose) Eye drops 2 - 3 weeks
La Sota Ranikhet Drinking water 5 - 6 weeks
Fowl Pox (1st dose) Wing Web 7 - 8 weeks
R2B Ranikhet Sub cut or Intramuscular 9 - 10 weeks
Infectious Bronchitis Eye drop or drinking water 16 weeks
Fowl Pox (2nd dose) Skin Scarification 18 weeks
La Sota (if necessary) Ranikhet Drinking Water 20 weeks
La Sota (if necessary) Ranikhet Drinking Water 40 weeks
IBD :    
Mildly invasive vaccine Drinking Water 0 - 3 day
Intermediately invasive vaccine Drinking Water 15th day
Intermediately invasive vaccine Drinking Water 28-30th day
(Source: Central Avian Research Institute)
References Kerala Agricultural University. 2001. Package of Practices- Recommendations: Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur. .