Poultry and swine production systems are similar. For example, commercial chicken production systems can market meat birds (broilers) at around 30 days of age (broiler) and can produce around 320 eggs per year from a layer. These systems depend upon elite genetics, nutrition, and management to achieve these results. Essentially, all poultry production systems (e.g., turkeys, ducks) are similar to the chicken broiler industry described below.
Parent breeding birds produce eggs for both the broiler and layer systems; however, birds used for meat are different from those used for eggs. Thus, the broiler and layer industries are essentially separate. Workers remove the eggs from the hens to allow artificial incubation. Day-old chickens go to broiler units (meat) or for growing out to egg-laying age. Hens move into the layer shed at the point of egg production. Nutritional systems are complex and similar to the system used for intensive swine production. Complex biosecurity systems have evolved to prevent outbreaks of disease within the very large population of birds found within a commercial farm. These include the exclusion of access to wild birds, careful sourcing of replacement birds, use of batch rearing systems (all-in-all-out systems followed by disinfection of premises), and use of prophylactic vaccination and treatment programs. Veterinarians are helping to develop new ways to control disease and maintain production in commercial units housing thousands of birds as antibiotic growth stimulants fall out of favor.
Parameters that determine poultry farming profitability are similar to those for swine farming. Again, poultry veterinarians and commercial producers have systems that provide them with real-time, high-quality data on the health status of poultry within their care.
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