Trials in Malaysia and Thailand demonstrate benefits of water medication during first 7 days
Modern breeds of high-producing meat birds are derived from temperate zones and are unsuited for hot, humid tropical regions. Targeting the first seven days of the chickens’ life to minimize the stresses of the rapid growth phase and the effects of chronic heat stress can influence early liveweight gain and lower mortality. This is proving a cost-attractive way to improve carcass quality and evenness at pick-up.
Trials in Malaysia and Thailand have confirmed the importance of such early intervention, producing a 95-100 g gain in weight at 38 days with superior carcasses showing less fat and with less late mortality.
Jaya Gading Estates is a complex of 13 broiler farms located throughout Pahang State in East Malaysia. Established by Mr Yap Kim Hwah, Jaya Gading Estates remain family owned and operated by his brother, Mr Yap Kim Soon and his brothers. Jaya Gading is the largest broiler producer in Pahang State, handling 25,000 D.O. chickens weekly.
Mr Yong Khee Yen, Technical Manager for RCI Sdn Bhd suggested trialling the RCI H27 programme, which involves use of two commercial products to improve appetite and combat heat stress. A 5 cycle trial was initiated in July 2002 with a control group and a treated group fed a liquid appetite stimulant (Anigane, RCI, 1 ml/litre water) plus a powder product designed to enhance dietary electrolyte balance (Selectolyte, RCI, 1g/litre water), both in the drinking water, from hatching to day 7.
Differences in bird weight and lower mortalities were seen at end of the first week (Table 1). Birds were stronger, more active and settled more easily. They were observed to be at the feed more often and have better “bloom".
The better first week weights translated through to market with treated birds being heavier, more even and showing less late mortalities than untreated controls. Time to reach target weight was less, there was less culling and carcass quality was better.
The trial continued through a further 4 cycles with similar results.
|Number of birds||35,000||35,000|
Mean temperature 35C, Relative Humidity 80%
1 Anigane 1mL/litre drinking water, Selectolyte 1g/litre drinking water
Mr Yap Kim Soon, Director, Jaya Gading Farms acknowledges an average 20% improvement in performance on his farm. He added, “Catching time is always on time, there is less culling, the birds are very uniform and on average 150-200 g heavier “. As Jaya Gading is a vertically integrated operation, Mr Yap also observed that processing showed less fat and better quality meat which translates to better tasting meat.
Image:Mr Tiew Chee Wei (Farm Manager) and Mr Yap Kim Soon (Director) Jaya Gading Estates
The significance of the RCI H27 programme aimed at hatching to 7 days was tested by Centaco, a major integrated broiler operation in Thailand. They instituted replicated trials to examine the benefits of early medicating drinking water. Results from the initial trial confirmed the earlier Malaysian work (Table 2).
|No. of birds||D.O. weight, g||Feed intake, kg/bird||Mean weight, 38 days, g||Feed:gain|
|Treatment 1 - 4 x 80||40||3.090||1965a||1.68|
|Control - 4 x 80||40||3.078||1870 b||1.74|
ab P<0.1. Location: Centaco broiler farm, Bangkok, Date: 24.03.2003, Open Shed, Av. Temp: 32C, Av. R.H.: 70%. 1 Anigane 1mL/litre drinking water, Selectolyte 1g/litre drinking water
These results confirm that treating drinking water from hatching to age 7 days with Selectolyte and Anigane can result in 95-100 g extra weight gain at 38 days and with improved feed: gain.
Since medication is used in the first 7 days only, when water consumption is low (ranging from 180- 250mL /bird), cost of medication was less than $US 0.5 cents/bird.
With chicken meat at $US 1600/tonne the additional 95 - 100 g is worth approximately $US 15 cents / bird, providing a substantial cost benefit to the producer using the H27 program.
Mr Brett Ruth is Managing Director of RCI (Rural Chemical Industries (Aust) Pty Ltd), Locked Bag 3200 P.O. Coogee, NSW 2034, Australia. He may be contacted by E-mail, Phone or Fax