Broiler Management

It is a bird of about 8 weeks of age of either sex (straight-run chicks) with an average body weight of 1.5 to 2.0 kg with a flexible breast bone cartilage, pliable and tender meat.

Housing systems
Broilers can be housed on deep-litter, slatted or wire floor or cages.  However, cage, slat and wire floor rearing of broilers are not as popular as litter floor rearing, due to problems like breast blisters, leg weakness and higher initial investment.

Rearing systems
The systems of rearing refer to either single batch at a time (all-in all-out system) or multiple batches of brooding and rearing of broilers.

All-in all-out system
Under all-in all-out system, the farm will have only one batch of broilers, belonging to the same hatch at any time.  Sufficient chicks will be purchased to accommodate the entire farm capacity, reared and marketed in a single lot.
This system is more hygienic, lesser sub-clinical infections and horizontal spreading of diseases and thereby lesser mortality rate, better growth rate and improved feed efficiency.  However, this system is not suitable for large scale farming and needs higher fixed and working capital per bird.

Multiple batch system
The multiple batch system consists of rearing of more than one batch of chicks at any time, with a batch interval of 1 to 4 weeks. Here, the farmer is buying day-old chicks and selling grown up broilers at weekly, fortnightly, once in three weeks or at monthly intervals.  The chicks are reared for five to six weeks of age, or until they attain the desired body weight and sold for table.
The ideal system for India at present is having 5 to 6 batches of broilers at any time, with weekly interval between batches and “direct retail marketing”.   Here, the birds will be marketed daily, from 40 to 54 days of age, based on their body weight, i.e. heavier birds will be sold earlier; giving a chance for weaker birds to have a compensatory growth.

Floor space, feeder space and waterer space
The floor space requirement of broilers varies depending on their body weight at the time of marketing, housing systems, marketing age and ambient temperature.  The feeder and waterer space also varies depending on the environmental temperature and health condition of the birds.  The following is the approximate floor, feeder and waterer space requirement for broilers.

Age Floor space/ bird Feeder space/ bird Waterer space / bird
Up to 18 days 450 cm2
(0.5 sq.ft.)
3 cm 1.5 cm
From 19 days to 42 days 1000 cm2 (1.1 sq.ft.) 6-7 cm 3 cm

Brooding and rearing of broilers
It is similar to that for egg-type chicks.

Cage rearing of broilers
Broilers can also be reared on cages.  Broiler cages are similar to that of grower cages.  To prevent the breast blisters, the bottom of the cage may be coated with some plastic materials.  The floor space requirement in cages is 50% of the floor space needed in deep-litter. The relative advantages and disadvantages of cage rearing of broilers are,


  • Higher density of rearing possible
  • Easy to catch the birds at market time and hence reduces bruising
  • No expenditure on litter
  • No incidences of coccidiosis
  • Reduced cannibalism
  • Cleaning and disinfection easier
  • Better growth and feed efficiency


  • Higher incidences of breast-blisters which increases carcass condemnations
  • Higher incidences of crooked keel
  • Wing bones will be more brittle which will be a disadvantage for the processor also.
  • Birds are not having access to the unidentified growth factors in deep-litter system.
  • Cleaning faecal-trays is not labour friendly.
  • High initial investment on cages.
  • Birds will be uncomfortable especially during summer

Generally, three types of feed are offered to broilers from day-old to marketing.
0-2 Weeks – Broiler Pre-starter mash / crumble
3-4 Weeks – Broiler Starter mash
5-6 Weeks – Broiler Finisher mash

In open sided broiler houses, the most commonly recommended lighting programme is 24 hours light during brooding period, followed by 23 hours light and one hour darkness per day, until marketing.  This one hour darkness is to train the birds to acclimatize for darkness, in case of power failure, which may cause panic and trampling.

Vaccination schedule

Age Vaccine Route of administration
1 First day Marek’s (at hatchery) S/C at neck
2 5-7th day RDV F1 I/O or I/N
3 14th day IBD Vaccine I/O or I/N
4 21st day RDV La Sota Drinking water
5 28th day IBD Vaccine (Booster) Drinking water

Sex-separate rearing of broilers
The growth rate, floor space and the nutrient requirements of male and female broilers are not the same.  Since the males grow faster than females, males need higher floor space and nutrients than female broilers.  Due to these reasons, male and female broiler chicks are reared separately, in many countries, from day-old to disposal.  Here, day-old broiler chicks are sexed by “feather sexing method” rather than by “vent-sexing”, as in the case of egg-type chicks.  The sexed broiler chicks are brood and reared separately until marketing. Separate diets are provided for males and females.  Male broilers require more protein, whereas the females require less energy and less protein.


  • More uniform body weight of flocks can be produced by separate rearing of sexes.
  • Specialized market requirement can be met.  The females can be reared, dressed and sold as whole chicken; whereas the male carcasses will be exclusively used for deboning and various cut-up parts.
  • More accurate feeding to meet out the specific requirement of each sex will be possible.  This will lead to better growth rate and feed efficiency.
  • Due to flock uniformity, the automatic processing equipments can be adjusted more accurately for greater processing efficiency and minimum condemnations.
  • Minimise the incidence of cannibalism and peck order, due to more flock uniformity.


  • Increased costs of sexing.
  • Larger breeding flocks are necessary to meet the demand for male and female broiler chicks.  In turn, hatcheries may require that their customers always purchase equal number of male and female chicks.

Measures of performance efficiency in broilers
 1. Livability

Livability % = Number of birds sold x 100
Number of birds at the beginning

Normal value is 97 to 98%
2. Feed Efficiency or Feed conversion ratio

FCR = Total quantity of feed consumed per bird in Kg
Mean body weight gain in Kg

A value of 1.8 or lesser at 6 weeks of age is preferable.

3. Broiler Performance Efficiency Factor (BPEF)

BPEF = Live weight in kg x 100
Feed efficiency

Higher the value better will be the index. A value of 100 or more is desirable.

4. Broiler Farm Economy Index (BFEI)

BFEI = Average live weight (kg) x per cent livability
Feed efficiency x growing period (days)

A BFEI value of 2.0 and above indicates better management of the farm and optimal performance of the birds; whereas a value less than 1.3 indicates poor performance of the flock.

Squab broilers
Very small broilers, weighing around 0.9 kg weight at around 28 days of age is called squab broilers. These are raised straight-run, processed, eviscerated and sold as fresh or frozen whole carcass.

Preparation of Poultry for Show

1) Selection of birds

  • Select only healthy birds.  This is important for two reasons:
  • It increases the chances of winning the price since healthy birds will have good physical condition and bright appearance.
  • It reduces the chances of spreading diseases to other birds present in the show.

2) Training birds
The birds to be presented for show should confirm to the standard description for its breed and variety.
Select the bird early.  At least one week before the show, place each show bird in a cage similar to the one used during poultry show.  Handle each two to three times a day in a manner similar to that used during judging so that the birds get trained and do not get excited during the show.  Do not expose the red coloured birds to direct sunlight for several hours because it will fade the plumage colour.

3) Washing the birds
When the plumage is soiled and dirty, it does not look good in show cages.  The birds are washed with detergent solution (avoid the detergents which makes the feather brittle).  If external parasites are present, birds may de dipped in 0.25 to 0.50 % Sevin solution.
A bird can be washed for 15 to 20 seconds and the bird should be placed in a drying cage and it gets dried in 20 to 30 minutes.  The birds should be dried slowly for best results.

4) After washing

  • A small piece of cloth is moistened with baby oil or vitamin E enriched oil and rubbed over the comb, wattles, beak and shank of the bird.
  • A mixture of equal parts of alcohol, glycerine and olive oil makes an excellent cleaning and polishing solution for shank, feet, comb and wattles.
  • Check the nails and beak and see if any trimming is needed.
  • Tooth pick is used to clean the bird’s nostrils.

5) Transporting the birds
Transport the birds in a clean cage with straw or wood shavings as bedding material.  Do not provide water since it will spill and spoil the bedding material.  If the birds are to be transported to a long distance, water should be provided at intervals during transport.

6) Care of birds during show
Make sure that the birds are provided with plenty of feed and water during the show.

7) Care of birds after the show
After the show, the birds should be quarantined and should not be mixed with other birds in the farm immediately because it may transmit some diseases which has been acquired during the show from other birds.  After 14 days of quarantine, they can be mixed with other farm birds


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