Discussion created on 08/14/2008

Breeder farm management



Breeder management may refer to pure line management, parent stock management, and grand parent stock management depending on the context. Although there may be small variations in management among these stocks some basics are common within layer breeder stocks and broiler breeder stocks. The main aim of the breeder management is to produce the more number of fertile eggs per pullet and increasing the hatchability by hygienic handling of the fertile eggs. One must also strictly monitor the health of the flock in order to prevent spread of infection through vertical transmission from the breeder stock to commercial chicks. Here this topic discusses only about the special management that are not regular among commercial farm management, all other management are common.

Biological isolation

Biological isolation refers to location of the breeder farm away from other commercial poultry farms in order to prevent the spread of diseases between the flocks.

Though these farms must be located separately they must be in close vicinity of the city to have a good transport facility and other amenities such as water, electricity, and availability of labour.

Biological isolation further insist on regular blood testing the flocks for vertically transmitted diseases and zoonotic diseases and culling of positive reactors at regular interval. The common diseases for which the blood testing is carried out are pullorum, fowl typhoid (salmonellosis), mycoplasma gallisepticum infection, and mycoplasma synoviae infection. Personal hygiene of the farm workers is also important because zoonotic infection salmonellosis can spread in both ways between human and the birds. Breeder management consist of chick management, grower management, and layer management.

There are three types of breeders
1. white egg layer
2. brown egg layer
3. meat type broiler breeder

Hatchery procedures

1. Chick delivery
While the chicks are hatched out in own hatcher or chicks are bought there is specified ratio of male: female to start with. This ratio varies depending on the type of bird to be purchased or reared in brooding.
Type of bird male : female
White egg layer 10-12 :100
Brown egg layer 10-12 :100
Broiler breeder 12-15 : 100

2. Toe trimming and comb trimming

Male chicks from the male parent line are vent sexed and then they are generally toe trimmed and comb trimmed. This is done to ensure that there is minimal occurrence of cannibalistic behavior and to prevent the damage to the precious pullet by cocks during natural mating. Comb trimming is done to prevent the occurrence of peck order when more cocks are reared in a single pen.

As we know that vent sexing method is not 100 accurate this leads to mixing of males from female line and vice-versa.

This mixing of male and female due to sexing error can be easily identified and culled during sexual maturity as shown as below

Bird appearance cockerel pullet
Toe, comb trimmed bred culled
Toe, comb untrimmed culled bred

*bred – these birds allowed for breeding.
*culled – these birds are culled because they are due to sexing error.

Housing Methods

Breeder are housed in three types of housing they are,
1. All litter floor
2. Slat and litter floor (or plastic floor)
3. Cage system

Of these systems all litter and cage system is more common in India. Broiler breeders generally prefer all litter system because of heavy body weight birds and layer breeders chose the cage system.

1. All litter floor
In this system of housing more number of floor eggs occurs. They are the problem lading “blow-up” in the incubator. There is also high percentage of cracked eggs which must not over than 2 for young flocks and 3 for old flocks. Providing adequate number of nest box reduces floor eggs.

2. Slat and litter floor (or plastic floor)
In this system 2/3 of floor is slat and 1/3 is litter floor. In this system of housing 5 more number of eggs per pullet can be obtained and 3 times lower floor eggs compared to all litter floor system. Laying house mortality is slightly higher in this system than all litter floor.

Brood - grow system of growing

In this system the birds are reared in a single house during the brooding and growing period by restricting the floor space during the initial 5 wk period and then allowing full space after that. This system is useful particularly for avoiding stress to birds while shifting of birds from one house to another and also for easier vaccination program.

Brood –grow – lay system

In this system once the chick enters the house it is reared in the same shed for its life time until culling. The shed has all provision from brooding equipment to nest boxes for egg collection in the laying period.

Rearing methods

Egg layers
1. Sexes intermingled - in this method the chicks are separated only until they are reared in brooding guard after that they intermingled as per specified ratio
2. Sexes raised separately – the male and female chicks are reared separately until 12 weeks after which 5male is mixed and then at 18 weeks remaining males are mixed.

Broiler breeder
1. Sexes raised separately – the male and female chicks are reared separately until 21 weeks after which 12cocks for every 100 pullet is placed together.
2. Sexes intermingled - in this method the chicks are reared separately until 2 weeks after that they are beak trimmed and mixed as per specified ratio.

Floor space in deep litter
Type of bird chick grower Layer
Layer breeder(male) 1.5 Ft2/bird Or 7 bird/ m2 2.5 Ft2/bird Or 4.25 bird/ m2 -NA-
Layer breeder(female) 1 Ft2/bird Or 10.8 bird/ m2 1.5 Ft2/bird Or 7 bird/ m2 2.5 Ft2/bird which includes space for male
Broiler breeder
(deep litter) 1 Ft2/bird Or 10.8 bird/ m2 2.5 Ft2/bird
Or 4.5 bird/ m2 3 Ft2/bird
Or 3.5 bird/ m2
Broiler breeder
(slat cum deep litter) -NA- -NA- 2.25 Ft2/bird

Ravi Subramanian
Ravi Subramanian
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Abdulfatah Abdulfatah
Agricultural Engineer
June 13, 2011

Good development about mycoplasma gallisepticum infection. it is very interest to receive comparision between managing breeder birds ( pullet and layer ) at cages 

also the comparision between managing breeder at floor and cages

Kapil Babu Khanal Kapil Babu Khanal
Poultry farmer
November 6, 2013
This article is very interesting. Can anybody suggest me , how would be the peformance if broiler breeders are brooded and reared in cages and placed on 2/3 slat system for laying ?
December 28, 2013
cute article but where is the rest?
Howard Eubanks Howard Eubanks
June 12, 2016

Can anyone supply economic information on sexing chicks at hatcheries of commercial broiler operations?
What is the typical range in cost of sexing each bird?
How effective are typical practices?(How often are errors made?)
What are the benefits and range of monetary upside?
What is the typical cost of errors made?
August 17, 2018

What is the requirement space for broiler breeder bird in environment control system house in laying stage?

January 12, 2021
Can you please share the full article about breeder management?
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Utsav Prakash Tiwari
Utsav Prakash Tiwari
Ph.D. in Nutrition
  DURHAM, North Carolina, United States
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