For most poultry farmers, Harmattan period is that time of the year when they refuse to stock Day Old Chicks (D.O.C) for brooding due to the fear that cold will kill all of their chicks.
Some even cover their entire poultry pens to avoid excessive cold but while doing all these they also affect the birds they tend to protect because there is no more cross ventilation for them.
On our previous topic, we talked about the ideal construction for a poultry pen which covered the ideal length, height, width and so on. Therefore it is not just all about buying chicks and putting them anywhere, they also have their own standard housing and methods.
Now coming back to harmattan season, following my interaction with some poultry farmers in my area, they pointed out some of the following challenges, they said:
- For me, Harmattan season is the most fearful season of my life as a poultry farmer, not only do cold kill my birds, the dusts also has its own bad effect on my birds.
- For me, Harmattan is one of the ugly periods on my poultry farming career as my egg production tends to drop drastically during this period due to cold.
- For me, I cannot brood Day Old Chicks (D.O.C) during this period because they will all die….Cold will kill them all.
- For me, there are a lot of poultry diseases that always affect my birds during Harmattan season so am not ready to risk it again so after my December sales, I will wait till March of the next year when the Harmattan period is over to stock again.
Well,now let me add mine, For me Harmattan period is even the best for me because I will get Day Old Chicks (D.O.C) stocked at a cheaper rate due to the fear of others to stock. Lolz!!!
Listen friends, Harmattan season is just like every other season out there.Knowing what to do, how to do them and when to do them, is what makes you stand out from the crowd and that is what we are going to be discussing right now.
Now we have been mentioning Harmattan for a while now, lets even know what Harmattan itself means….. so what is Harmattan?
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What is Harmattan?
This is a dry and dusty weather which is observed between the end of November and the middle of March. It is usually characterized by a cold, dry, dusty wind in the evenings until the early hours of the mornings.
The reason of this characterized weather condition during harmattan is because during this period, there is little amount of water in the atmosphere (low humidity) with this, stuffiness increases and thus leads to spread of infections or diseases generally.
Harmattan wind is considered to be a natural hazard because during its passage,the wind picked up dust particles and could push large quantities of sand, provoking the spread of wind-borne diseases.
During this period, chicken easily come down with all sorts of pulmonary(lung) diseases, which really compromise the respiratory processes and eventually hamper poultry performance”.
This harmattan period has various adverse effects on Human health and also that of Animal especially poultry, this triggers a lot of diseases. The most common health challenges in poultry during this period includes but not limited to common Cold, Eye problem, and catarrhal, pneumonia,nose Bleeding, Bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease and many other cold related health problems.
It is good for us to protect our birds from these infections in the spirit of making them stay healthy.
The Following Healthy practices can be Adopted to help Scale through this Period with Ease and Better Performance of the Poultry Chickens / Birds
1) Endeavor to supply plenty cool and fresh drinking water to the birds at all time to prevent dehydration.Basically, birds detest warm water as this increases the body temperature and hence lead to heat stress so ice block could be use in the afternoon to supply cool water.
2) Provision of additional watering space and drinkers will help the birds (Layers and Broilers on deep litter system) have more access to water without stress, shedding of the overhead water tanks will help prevent direct sun ray reflection in water.
3) During the early hours of the day and late hours at night, ambient temperature always drops and induces cold; therefore, lightening should be made available to generate heat in the poultry house in order to increase the temperature to a suitable level.
Read Also: Feeding Methods for Poultry Chicks / Birds
4) Serving of required quantities of more energetic feeds (high density feed) to chickens to generate body heat very early in the morning and during the hotter part of the day, little or no feeds should be made available.
5) In the case where planting of carpet grasses is not visible around the pen house, wetting the surface of the ground with plenty water could also prevent wind from blowing dust and heat from the ground in the afternoon and evening. This will help to guide against dusty air filtered into the respiratory system of the birds.
6) Removal of cobwebs and cleaning of dusty nets should be a regular routine,the net can be cleaned using wet rag or foam or hand brush.
Care must be taken when carrying out this operation to avoid scaring and stressing the birds.
7) Avoid burning of bushes meters away from the farm to prevent respiratory problem among the flock and also prevent heated saturated air around.
8) Water containing enough anti-stress agents (vitamins) and also electrolyte should be provided to the chickens, these will serves as thermal regulator to regulate the body temperature (whether too cold or too hot), and enhance daily metabolism.
9) Sprinkling of cold water on rooftop and sometimes on the birds during the hotter part of the day with the use of acceptable sprinklers and sprayers and where forgers and fans are available in the pens will also help as coolant.
10) Stocking density also has to be put into consideration in order to avoid overcrowding as this can lead to easy spread of infectious diseases within the birds.
11) Adhering to all other Bio-security measures and using of good management practice will be of help to prevent and overcome challenges during this period of the year.
Finally, to prevent the incidents of burns, fire outbreaks and other related issues on our farms, the following should be done:
1. Switch off all electrical appliances on the farm after use.
2. Quench naked fire if any when not in use.
3.Check all wooden and replace bad ones to prevent building from collapsing.
4. The use of noise cover should be encouraged within the workers to ensure they stay healthy.
5.Ensure proper storage of inflammable substance like petrol on the farm.
6. Ensure your farm has at least one working fire extinguisher and also train at least two people how to use it.
I hope with all these tips, you can confidently continue your poultry farming business even during the Harmattan season?
Let’s share our experiences below and learn from others.