11 Factors Affecting Broiler Growth (How To Make Them Gain Weight Fast)

Today, I’m going to breakdown ALL the key factors that are known to increase broiler growth and weight gain.

According to Aviagen, global commercial broiler chicken breeders:

There are actually eleven ways to make your broiler birds grow faster.

So, if you are looking to:

  • increase the growth of your broiler chicken
  • make them gain weight faster

…then this quick checklist will help you make those performance improvements.

The broiler body is a biological system #

The broiler chicken’s body is a system.

It has functioning which is largely controlled by physical and environmental parameters.

In other words,

The broiler body will do what it is designed to do (and more or less efficiently)…

…depending on the conditions of its environment or habitat.

Factors Affecting Broiler Growth and Weight Gain
(Source)

For maximum efficiency, the range of conditions must be kept at optimal levels.

There is, therefore, a production sweet-spot with the functioning of a broiler chicken’s body.

If the ideal conditions are met, the broiler chicken will achieve optimal performance.

The key performance goal for commercial broiler farming being quality body growth/weight.

But what a broiler farmer gets the conditions wrong?

The broiler body has coping mechanisms built in to adjust to suit the environmental conditions.

It can within a reasonable range of tolerance, successfully up-regulate or down-regulate.

But like any effort delivered,

Such a regulatory reaction comes at a material expense.

In other words,

More effort on the bird’s behalf to regulate its internal conditions to combat its external discomforts,

Equals less energy and effort spent on growth and weight gain.

The result?

A leaner, lighter broiler.

Less profit for your broiler business.

11 key broiler growth factors #

For best broiler farming results,

Commercial broiler breeders, like Aviagen recommend that you focus on keeping the following rearing factors consistent:

Factor#1: Stocking density #

Heavily populating your broiler house with densely packed flocks can have a negative impact on broiler growth and weight gain.

What are the causes of this decrease in performance?

A combination of issues actually.

They each have a knock-on effect, but in summary 2 points primarily:

  • overheating
  • concentration of waste

Broiler birds have no sweat glands, and therefore, are sensitive to environmental temperature.

And where there is more body heat from densely populated broiler houses, birds will find it harder to lower their temperature.

Also, a higher rate of waste (especially in deep litter conditions) will result in litter material being saturated with urine and faeces.

This can lead to degradation of foot health in birds.

Of course, affecting growth and performance.

Further reading: https://www.poultryworld.net/Meat/Articles/2020/12/Effects-of-stocking-density-on-broiler-production-parameters-682835E/

Factor#2: Ventilation #

Ventilation and airflow in broiler housing provide your flock with fresh air.

This is air that has low gaseous emissions like CO2 and ammonia from urea –  helping birds remain alert and healthy.

Consistent air temperature is also a benefit of good broiler house ventilation.

When well ventilated, broiler houses accommodate the birds keeping optimal body temperatures.

Further reading: https://www.poultryworld.net/Home/General/2018/4/Getting-ventilation-right-on-broiler-farms-275703E/

Factor#3: Lighting #

Lighting is a behavioural stimulant.

It steers physical movements, alertness and inclination to feed, drink and reproduce.

It has even been seen in studies that:

  • musculoskeletal development (broiler growth) and
  • feed intake (appetite)

…are significantly affected by the house lighting.

Variables such as duration of light availability, as well as light intensity, are known to be highly influential.

So immediate control over these factors should be sought after in technical planning.

Further reading: https://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/lighting-for-poultry-housing

Factor#4: Feed supply #

It’s no surprise that what and how you feed your broilers will have a direct effect on their ability to grow and gain weight.

The following variables are quoted as making the most difference:

  • feed type
  • feed freshness
  • water
  • feed availability
  • feed particle preparation
  • nutritional make-up
  • palatability
  • quality

Breeder advice and live trialling are good quality indicators for what is likely to work and deliver you the best results.

Further reading: https://www.wattagnet.com/articles/25933-ways-to-improve-broiler-feed-efficiency-beyond-nutrition

Factor#5: Chick quality #

The old adage: “…start as you mean to go on applies here.”

Chicks are the seeds of your poultry farming enterprise.

If the seed is good, then it is likely the plant and fruit also will be good – if husbandry methods are good.

To get your broiler profits off to the best head start,

You’ll want to ensure that your broiler chicks are 100% fit and healthy at delivery.

Any signs of poor chick condition as receipt are most certainly foretelling of future losses to your business.

Practice keen attention to detail when selecting your chicks.

Further reading: https://www.moyerschicks.com/resources/guides/guide-to-successfully-starting-broiler-chicks/

Factor#6: Health #

Healthy birds convert input most efficiently into the profitable output of growth and weight.

For broiler’s bodies to perform maximally at turning all that costly feed into profitable meat,

Their bodies need to be working at peak condition.

They need to be healthy.

If their bodies are hindered in any way and carrying additional burdens,

To compensate, this will result in less growth, less weight and less profit for you.

Further reading: https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-020-02484-3

Factor#7: Bird welfare #

Bird welfare is a natural flagging system giving you forewarning of flock problems.

Being able to read the signs of good vs. bad bird welfare will save untold profits for your broiler farm.

Being sensitive to ‘reading the game’ will help you stay on top of your peak performance.

And where there are storms around the corner,

Sensing a problem and giving you and your team maximum time to react and overcome,

Will nip any potential losses in the bud – before worsening sets in.

Further reading: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/media/5235309/Welfare-sheet-Broiler-chickens.pdf

Factor#8: Nutrition #

Quality of broiler feed is where you make your ‘points potential’ count toward the goal of profit.

Broiler nutrition is a fundamental building block of growth and weight gain.

It’s the substrate which the birds will use to convert increase.

Cutting corners is unthinkable.

And you’ll be shortchanging (or undercutting) your own business accounts.

Liberally give the broilers what their bodies need to perform.

They’ll pay you back.

Further reading: http://www.poultryhub.org/nutrition/nutrient-requirements/nutrient-requirements-of-meat-chickens-broilers/

Factor#9: Temperature #

Again, the point must be emphasised:

Broilers have no sweat glands.

And we all know just how effective sweating is at relieving our bodies of heat on a hot day.

With such a marked regulatory disadvantage,

Broiler birds compensate for this by:

  • behavioural adaptation (wing raising, separating from one another, finding cool/cold spots)
  • drinking more
  • eating less

These heat regulation adjustments have the side-effect of slowing down growth and weight gain.

Keep an optimal and consistent broiler house temperature for best results.

Further reading: http://www.poultryhub.org/production/husbandry-management/housing-environment/climate-in-poultry-houses/

Factor#10: Water supply #

Access to ample amounts of clean drinking water on demand is critical to maintaining bird comfort.

This resource is the primary mechanism that the birds have for keeping cool.

Aside from cooling, the broiler’s body demands a relatively large amount of water (almost double the weight of feed, by comparison – some 18 pounds in 6 weeks.)

Keeping tight consumption records help with identifying patterns of demand from the birds.

This way you keep on top of the challenge.

Further reading: https://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/water-intake-a-good-measure-of-broiler-performance

Factor#11: Vaccination status #

Ensuring broilers are well protected against potential disease outbreaks helps performance.

Disease serious saps the reserves of broilers, knocking their growth trajectory away from achieving your target.

Maintaining good preventative measures against disease is forward-thinking,

In avoidance of performance threats.

Further reading: https://www.msdvetmanual.com/poultry/nutrition-and-management-poultry/vaccination-programs-in-poultry

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