As winter’s grip tightens in the UK, poultry farmers find themselves facing a unique set of challenges. From harsh weather conditions and sub-zero temperatures, the season demands strategies to ensure the well-being of flocks and maintain farm productivity.
1. Temperature regulation
Maintaining an optimal temperature within poultry houses becomes paramount during winter. Through insulation and the use of supplemental heating methods, poultry farmers can ensure targeted warmth without compromising the crucial airflow. The vigilant monitoring of temperature gauges should be a daily ritual, ensuring conditions remain consistent and optimal for the flock’s wellbeing.
2. Ventilation and humidity management
Achieving a balance between warmth and ventilation is critical. Adjusting ventilation settings to maintain a comfortable environment, coupled with vigilant humidity level monitoring is essential, as it not only reduces the risk of harmful gas buildup but also ensures an atmosphere that is conducive to overall flock health.
3. Shielding from wind, drafts and wild birds
Poultry houses should be incredibly well maintained all year, but particularly in the winter, as there are many issues that can arise quickly from insufficient building maintenance. Continually reviewing the condition of the building, including all walls, entrances, windows, doors, the roof as well as any internal rooms and areas is paramount. Ensuring tight seals around doors, windows, and vents is not only important for temperature regulation, but it also reduces the likelihood of wild birds, who are vectors for diseases like avian influenza, getting access to your birds. These measures will also help with preventing flooding.
4. Providing nutritious feed and water
Winter calls for adjustments in the formulation of poultry feed, as there are increased energy requirements for temperature regulation, whether the birds are housed or free-range. Equally critical is ensuring uninterrupted access to clean water, as dehydration exacerbates stress and health issues. Tailoring nutrition to provide additional vitamins and minerals is a big part of the strategy for ensuring the health and wellbeing of birds.
5. Monitoring health and disease prevention
The winter months intensify the need for regular health monitoring, and those caring for birds should be continually scanning for signs of illness and promptly addressing those concerns with expert veterinary care. Strict biosecurity measures, including restricted access and imposing harsher measures the closer you get to the birds, is a key factor in preventing disease introduction. Managing interactions with wild birds adds an extra layer of protection.
6. Managing egg production
Winter’s shorter days cast a shadow on egg production. Poultry farmers should employ the correct artificial lighting to extend daylight hours within poultry houses and adhere to regular lighting schedules to not disrupt the reproductive rhythms of the flock, ensuring continued and consistent egg production.
7. Preparing for harsh weather events
Winter can often bring around unforeseen weather circumstances, including heavy rainfall, harsh winds and snow. Backup generators can help maintain the uninterrupted power supply for essential systems. Stocking up on crucial supplies, including feed also becomes a strategic move to weather any potential disruptions.
8. Using technology for monitoring and control
Embracing the digital age, poultry farmers leverage technological advancements to gain real-time insights into flock health, environmental conditions, and critical biosecurity data. Bird flu outbreak maps, vehicle and visitor tracking, and digital record-keeping become indispensable tools, enabling proactive interventions and informed decision-making. The integration of technology can play a large part in enhancing overall farm efficiency.
Embracing the challenges and thriving
Winter may pose challenges, but it also offers opportunities for poultry farmers to showcase their expertise and adaptability. By implementing effective strategies, maintaining vigilant biosecurity practices, and embracing innovative technologies, poultry farmers not only overcome winter’s obstacles but ensure their flocks thrive throughout the season.
How Livetec is helping poultry farmers this winter
Livetec have been helping poultry farmers plan for a better future for the past decade.
Our Biosecurity Advisory Service and Contingency Planning drastically reduce the risk of disease incursion, and provide controlled measures to isolate the disease on-farm, reducing the loss of livestock and money.
Our experts can also provide advice on planning new buildings, from maximising site biosecurity, ventilation and airflow advice as well as how to protect your birds from the worst of the elements.
Find out more about Livetec’s unique range of services here.