When operating a poultry farm, especially a multiple house farm, it's essential to spend time working on even bird distribution early in the grow-out cycle and then continuing to improve it before the birds get to large. Good bird distribution will reduce fuel cost, minimize fan runtime, improve feed conversion, and increase average bird body weight (for maximum pounds).
Why Distribution Is Important
The number of birds your integrator placed in your houses is based on the amount of floor space available and the amount the birds will require at the end of the flock. The number of birds per square foot will vary based on the size bird you grow.
By evenly distributing the birds throughout the house you ensure they have proper access to food and water, as the drinker nipples and feed pans are also evenly distributed throughout the house, for maximum food and water availability as their needs increase. So when the birds are evenly dispersed throughout the house there should be just enough access to food and water to keep the birds well fed at all times. If there are too many birds in an area of the house access to food and water becomes limited causing the birds to gorge themselves when food is available, which can negatively impact both feed conversion and body weight.
The birds generate a considerable amount of body heat, and an even distribution of birds prevents heaters from running in areas with too few birds and prevents fans from running in areas with too many birds. This even heat distribution allows you to get the birds the maximum amount of air without running stoves, reducing wet or damp conditions, saving fuel, improving house conditions, reducing the likelihood of diseases, so less mortality and better feed conversion overall.
How to Get Them Even
Just after the final stage of brooding, as soon as you have released your birds to the whole house, you should begin spreading them out as evenly as possible and install your migration fences. At this early stage, uneven distribution won’t negatively impact your birds however later during grow out it will have a major impact on feed conversion and body weight. Getting the bird to move is most easily done when they're young and active, and to do this efficiently I use a Chick Chaser and a flashlight. I get behind the birds I want to move, shine the flashlight at the ceiling, and shake the chick chaser; this really gets the birds spread out quickly. The first move will be a rough guesstimate as the birds are small, very active, and they bunch up easily. Once the birds have been evenly spread out, as best you can tell, install the migration fences.
You can get a good idea of how evenly the birds are spread out when the lights have been out for a while, and the birds have huddled to sleep. You can also check distribution by reviewing your temperature sensor readings; provided the same number of vent boxes are all open in all sections of the house. Higher temperature readings can be a good indicator there are more birds in that section, but this should be visually confirmed. Subsequent moves are most easily done by bending the migration pipes back to the drinker lines while the lights are fairly low in the direction that makes it easy for the birds to pass. Then when you turn the house lights on medium bright, with the Chick Chaser and flashlight drive the birds from behind into the new area, putting the migration fences back in place and the lights back to normal. As the birds age, they become more and more lethargic. I’ve found moving small volumes of birds several times in a day to be far more efficient than trying to make a big move all at once. The process should be repeated over the course of the next week until the birds are evenly distributed.
In summation, consistent distribution of birds in your poultry house will generally result in increased weight gain, better feed conversion, reduced fuel costs and greatly reduced mortality due to consistent, better quality air flow around your birds. It's a winning situation all round!