Poultry farmer

Targeted management to reduce mortality

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Sick animals, sudden death or a higher mortality rate are every pig or poultry farmer's worst nightmare. Not just because of the detrimental effects on the technical results, but also in the context of animal welfare. The mortality rate of livestock is a significant indicator of animal welfare in the house. Animal diseases and mortality are also regularly recurring topics in social debates about livestock farming. For this reason, producers also stand to benefit from a continuous focus on improving animal welfare and animal health, and reducing mortality.

A good start ensures animal vitality

Mortality in the flock or group is generally not a sudden occurrence, but is usually caused by factors in the previous links in the production process. To minimise mortality, it is therefore essential to ensure the right conditions during all stages of the animal’s lifecycle. Targeted management from the day the animals enter the house is absolutely essential to minimise mortality. The first days that young animals spend in the house are extremely important, as they are still very vulnerable at this stage of life. During this period their vital organs and skeleton are still developing, and the foundations are created for a strong immune system.

Prevention is better than cure

Preventing mortality among livestock is more than administering medication as a preventive measure. It is primarily a question of timely recognition of any warning signs, correctly identifying the root cause and assessing the severity of the situation. Only then can you determine how to adapt the management strategy and implement the right corrective measures. However, in practice, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the root cause and its effects if you are faced with unexpected and sudden mortality in the house.

Taking care of broilers
Lumina 38 bird management

Fact-based management

The control computers in your house can help you with effective, targeted management. The data generated by the climate, feed and weighing computers in your house provides a wealth of information about the behaviour, health and performance of your animals. Continuously collecting this data and presenting it in clear graphs and tables allows you to notice any abnormalities at an early stage. You can intervene quickly, often even before the problem has had the chance to impact negatively on your animals. This prevents outbreaks of disease and minimises mortality. 

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Create a growth enhancing house climate

Preventing mortality starts by regulating an optimal climate in the house, regardless of the outdoor conditions. The environment your animals live in also influences their development and well-being. Using a simple CO2 meter will already provide plenty of information about the air quality in the house and helps when checking the minimum ventilation level. Thanks to a good climate control system, extreme weather conditions and sharply fluctuating day and night temperatures will have no influence on the house climate. This also helps avoid the animals suffering from heat and cold stress. The right climate is beneficial to the growth and health of your animals and saves you costs for feed, water and energy.   

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Poultry farmer

The right portion of feed at the right moment

Accurately controlling the feed rations ensures your animals receive the right portion of feed at the right time. And contributes to healthy growth!  Provide fresh, palatable feed and adjust the amount and composition in time to suit the particular needs of your animals. A gradual transition to another feed type will prevent your animals experiencing any problems with the new feed. When designing a house, remember that all the animals must always have access to feed and fresh water.

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Monitoring keeps a finger on the pulse

Abnormal animal behaviour, falling production or weight loss are just a few signs that can indicate a lot about the situation in your house. Automatic monitoring systems that, for example, register the weight and water consumption of animals help you respond adequately and immediately to deviations and anticipate the needs of your animals. This will limit any production losses during a rearing cycle. 

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Taking care of piglets

Tips to avoid mortality

There are multiple factors that can cause mortality. They may relate to the management strategy, but also to genetics, the quality of feed or an infectious disease. Good management practice helps you keep these factors under control. By providing a good start for your animals, you can avoid problems later in the production cycle. The best start ensures animal vitality and optimal animal health and welfare. And that will be reflected in the revenue, because healthy profits are only possible with healthy animals.

To conclude, some tips to reduce mortality:

Prevent broiler mortality

  • Ensure a clean and dry environment. Good hygiene, and a clean, dry house are vital to prevent the spread of pathogens and bacteria.
  • Regularly check the temperature and ventilation levels in the house as they are key to preventing stress and respiratory problems among the chicks.
  • Ensure the chicks have access to sufficient good quality feed and fresh water to support healthy growth and development.
  • Avoid overcrowding and make sure the birds are well-distributed throughout the house. Chicks in houses with a too high stocking density can suffer from stress, disease and mutual aggression.
  • Provide sufficient light. Sufficient light stimulates chick growth and development and helps prevent pecking behaviour and cannibalism.
  • It is vital to regularly monitor chick health and deal with any problems quickly.
  • Work hygienically and wear clean clothing and footwear and disinfect your hands before entering the house.
  • Monitor daily chick growth. Stagnating growth may indicate problems, but too rapid growth is not good for development either.
  • Monitor daily water consumption. A sudden deviation in water consumption usually signals that something is wrong.
Prevent broiler mortality
Prevent layer mortality

Prevent layer mortality

  • Create a good house environment. Ensure the layers have sufficient space to move around, good ventilation and enough nest space to rest and lay eggs.
  • Avoid a high stocking density. Overcrowding in the layer house can cause stress, which can lead to mortality. Monitor the number of hens per square metre and ensure the stocking density is within the recommended limits.
  • Good quality feed is essential for good health and a strong immune system. Make sure the layers are given enough nutrients and avoid feed being wasted.
  • Good hygiene. Ensure the house is cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Regular inspections. Regularly inspection layer health and treat any diseases quickly to prevent further spread.
  • Enrich the environment. Provide adequate enrichment material in the house such as straw bales, perches, or nesting material to reduce stress.
  • Ensure a good light climate. The right light intensity and photoperiod is important for the health and productivity of the hens. Use a regular light plan and avoid sudden changes.
  • Monitor daily water consumption. A sudden deviation in water consumption usually signals that something is wrong.

Prevent piglet mortality

  • Ensure proper hygiene in the farrowing house and clean it thoroughly between each litter of piglets.
  • Provide a comfortable, safe environment for the piglets with a constant temperature and good ventilation.
  • Ensure the piglets have an adequate supply of feed and water. Provide consistent amounts of feed at regular times that suit the needs of the piglets.
  • Have the vet inspect the animals regularly and vaccinate the piglets to prevent or detect disease at an early stage.
  • Keep piglets separate from older pigs to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Limit stress factors such as noise, environmental changes and transport.
  • Ensure the animals used for breeding have high quality genetics to minimise the risk of abnormalities and diseases.
  • Implement a good management strategy that includes monitoring the growth and health of piglets and take measures to resolve problems.
Prevent piglet mortality
Prevent finisher mortality

Prevent finisher mortality

  • Hygiene. Ensure a clean and hygienic environment in the house. Clean and disinfect the house regularly to eliminate pathogens.
  • Feed. Provide the pigs with a balanced and nutritious diet. The feed must meet the nutritional needs of pigs at the different stages of their lives.
  • Water quality. Provide sufficient fresh, clean drinking water for the pigs. Regularly check the water quality to prevent contaminated water causing diseases.
  • Ventilation. Ensure the house is adequately ventilated to improve the air quality and reduce the risk of disease.
  • Monitoring. Monitor pig health regularly to detect any early signs of disease. Treat sick animals as soon as possible to prevent the disease spreading.
  • Monitor daily water consumption. A sudden deviation in water consumption usually signals that something is wrong.
  • Animal welfare. Create a sufficiently spacious and comfortable environment for the pigs. Reduce stress factors such as overcrowding, excessive temperatures or lack of space to move.

Prevent sow mortality

  • Ensure a sufficiently high feed intake. Sows need a balanced diet that contains enough nutrients for them to stay healthy and support their piglets.
  • Create a good house environment. The house must be clean, dry and well ventilated. There must be enough space for the sow and her piglets to move around.
  • Avoid overcrowding. A too high stocking density can cause stress and affect the health of sows. Provide sufficient space per animal.
  • Ensure good hygiene. Pathogens and infections can spread rapidly in environments with poor hygiene. Clean the house regularly and ensure good hygiene is maintained.
  • Provide sufficient, fresh water. Sows need enough water to stay hydrated and maintain milk production.
  • Monitor daily water consumption. A sudden deviation in water consumption usually signals that something is wrong.
  • Avoid injuries. Sows can become aggressive and harm each other if they are overcrowded or have no distractions. Ensure sufficient enrichment and distraction in the form of toys, for example.
  • Provide good health care. Regular inspection by a veterinarian can help detect diseases and other issues at an early stage, which can help prevent outbreaks among your sows.
Prevent sow mortality

However, no matter how good your sow management practice is, it is impossible to prevent mortality altogether. As long as the mortality rate is within the acceptable standard, there's no need to worry. But if you notice a rise in mortality, it’ time to take action and fast. Failing to respond, or too late, can have serious consequences and high losses.

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