The following are the six (6) factors that affect the performance of the layer chickens in poultry production:
Hens need a moderate temperature for optimal performance. The Thermo neutral zones of the adult fowl within which performance is not adversely affected by temperature are from 12.8oC to 26.0oC. This temperature range supports the highest egg qualities.
When temperatures fall below the thermo-neutral zone, feed consumption increases while egg production drops and shell thickness is reduced. Temperatures higher than 26.0oC as in the tropics depress egg yield and egg quality.
2. Relative Humidity
High relative humidity (RH) impedes evaporative cooling and therefore makes panting virtually ineffective. This aggravates thermal stress. High RH may increase the risk of wet and mouldy litter. The recommended RH is 50-80% for layers.
The fowl is a small animal with a rapid metabolism hence its air requirements per unit of the body are high compared with that of other animals. The requirement can be met by straight-through passive ventilation in the hen houses.
Good ventilation is also needed to purify the air of carbon dioxide, ammonia, and noxious gases. The fowl can withstand a high rate of air movement, especially when the temperature is high because of its cooling effect.
Light has been shown to stimulate egg production in all birds and chicken is no exception. This is achieved by stimulating the pituitary gland which releases certain hormones necessary for ovulation.
The process requires a couple of hours for completion of the job up to egg laying. Increasing daylight advances sexual maturity and vice versa. Precocious maturity tends to result in a depressed rate of lay, and reduced egg size because of low POL body weight, light requirement considered enough for production is about 10 lux (one-foot candle).
The use of artificial light to give 14 to 16 hours light period helps to overcome the problem with natural day length which varies with seasons. The standard practice is to place one ceiling outlet for each 18.6m2 of floor and artificial lights should first be used on pullets after 5 months of age by giving 1 hour of additional light to the daylight.
5. Noise: Intermittent noise impacts negatively on egg production. A continuous noise, however, neutralizes the shock effect of sudden noises.
6. Floor, Feeding, and Drinking Space: These factors interact with temperature, ventilation, and RH to affect the performance of the fowl. It is therefore important to adhere to the established floor, feeding ad drinking space requirements per bird.
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