As the mercury drops below 12°C during the winters in various regions in India, poultry farmers need to gear up to numerous challenges. These multiple challenges include productivity, well-being, and health issues such as reduction in egg production, reduced water intake, decreased weight gain, reduced fertility, and hatchability issues among poultry livestock. Winter poultry farming in India is an art and science that requires understanding and knowledge about specific regional challenges and being prepared accordingly. The tips and strategies provided below will help you maintain the coop conditions, adjust nutrition and feed supplements, and monitor the health and well-being of poultry. These tips will also help you to maintain and enhance the productivity of livestock irrespective of the season.
Let us first understand regional climatic conditions in India:
Northern India: Harsh winters with temperatures dipping significantly along with windy conditions.
Southern India: Southern India experiences mild winters as compared to other parts of the country. However, the temperature difference is significant as compared to summers in Southern India, which can affect the livestock at poultry farms.
Eastern and Northeastern India: Because of the Himalayan ranges, this area experiences winters along with high humidity. This unique atmospheric condition during winter poses unique challenges to managing poultry farms in this area.
Western India: Cold nights and dipping temperatures are experienced. Desert areas experience chilling winters with windy weather.
Facing these challenges is tricky but not impossible! The following proven tips and strategies will successfully help you to manage and maintain the productivity, well-being, and health of your livestock and poultry farm during winters.
Protection From Cold Using Natural Resources – Sunlight
- Optimal usage of natural resources – Design your poultry house in a way to be exposed to maximum sunlight during the day. As days are smaller during winter, try to have arrangements handy for additional lighting sources.
- Protection against Wind – Usage of impermeable materials such as gunny bags, straw bales, or other similar materials at the entry points will help you protect your livestock from chilling winds.
Ventilation and Air Quality
- Moisture Control & ventilation – Moisture is released because of bird’s droppings and breathing. Bird’s droppings also release a chemical named Ammonia. Accumulation of this chemical in the farm can be harmful to the livestock. Thus, ensure to have fresh air circulation and proper ventilation facilities. Good ventilation can help prevent respiratory diseases to the livestock.
- Windows for natural ventilation and Exhaust Fans for proper air circulation – Both windows and exhaust fans have their specific rolls in maintaining a health environment for poultry during winter. Windows can help in regulating the ventilation whereas exhaust fans can be useful to forcibly remove stale air and smell from the area.
Specific Floor and Bedding Requirements
- Floor preparation for chicks – Being delicate and prone to health issues, ensure that proper flooring preparations are done before chick placement. Use various litter materials that may be available within your region such as sawdust, grain husk, or other similar materials to cover the floor. By doing so, you will be able to provide a comfortable and insulated floor area to the chicks during winter.
Covering the floor with about 6 inches of litter material will provide appropriate warmth to the livestock and protect them from the harsh weather during the winter season.
Maintaining Warm Temperature
- Installation of Heaters: Though heaters may not be required in the majority part of India during the winter season, still temperature tends to dip considerably during the night. Thus, it is important to install heaters or traditional Bukhari’s to maintain and keep the shed warm, cozy, and comfortable.
The most effective and surprising part is that even a 200W bulb can provide a good warm, cozy, and comfortable environment for a small shed.
- Energy Diet – As birds consume more feed to maintain body temperature, provide a fat-rich diet to meet their energy needs without causing wastage.
- Continuous Feed and Water Supply – Increase the number of feeders and ensure a continuous supply of fresh water. If the water is too cold, mix in some hot water to bring it to a normal temperature.
Health and Well-being Preparations
- Regular Health Checks – Along with scheduled health checks, winter-specific regular health checks should be planned to check for frostbites and other symptoms concerning winter-specific illnesses.
- Vaccination – Provision for various medications should be kept handy, just in case of any emergency. Supplies of various antibiotics should also be ready for the treatment of any winter-specific illnesses. If required, consult your local or prescribed veterinarian.
- Pests and Rodent Control – During winters, pests and rodents look for warm places for themselves. Thus, secure your poultry shed or coop thoroughly.
Feed Supplements and Food Nutrition
- Storage of feed supplements and feed – Moisture can spoil regular feed and the supplements too. Thus, store feed and feed supplements in a dry place away from any spoilage.
- Nutritional Adjustments – Energy-rich diet is advisable during the winter season to maintain body warmth and productivity. Include nutritional intake through an increase in calories by the addition of grains and corn in a regular diet.
- Feed Supplements – Feed supplements that are rich in vitamins and minerals should be added along with regular feed intake to boost immunity, enhance productivity, and maintain the health of poultry.
- Water – During winter, water tends to freeze or is too chill to be considered as drinkable. Thus, deploy water heaters that can maintain appropriate water temperature.
General Health and Well-being:
- Daily feeding routine – During the winter season as we all tend to eat more, animals too will! Thus, increase the feed and supplements accordingly to ensure a proper feeding routine.