In this tough time for the agricultural industry and country as whole, producers are likely facing challenges within their poultry operations on their farms. With current social distancing practices, it can be difficult to know how to access help for issues that arise. However, our poultry staff remains ready to assist producers in need. We are willing to make special considerations if barns need to be walked, and solutions need to be found for issues that arise. Our field marketers, nutritionists, technical service staff, and veterinarians are still working, although communication may be in a different form and involve less social interaction. We are still available to take calls, and best assist you with your current situation. We work together as a team to answer your questions and determine the best solutions for your problems.
The most important question for producers is at what point do they make that call for help. This can be a difficult question to answer. Some producers call when a minor issue arises, while others wait until it is too late. When in doubt, it is best to be make the call early as that can prevent issues from getting out of control.
How can a Veterinarian help?
A Vet is a vital resource to the success of the poultry farmer’s bottom line. They can help with flock health diagnostics bio security, day-to-day management, diagnosing and treating unhealthy birds, and other issues that may arise. Often when producers see that the health or activity of their flock is starting to decline, they take one of two paths. Either they choose to ignore the concern hoping that it resolves on its own, which works in some cases, or they immediately start medicating their birds, which is not the answer to the issue. Due to changes in antibiotic regulations, most antibiotics used must be signed off and scripted by a veterinarian. Vets will help you develop the best treatment plan possible to address health issues with your flock.
There are other examples of actions which should not be taken. Again, it is never a good idea to treat your flock with antibiotics without veterinarian advice. What may work for the flock at the time could potentially harm future flocks. Remember that veterinarians are experts on antibiotics and when to use them. You may have been raising birds for a long time and developed a wealth of experience and knowledge about medications. However, a veterinarian has current industry knowledge about medications and disease and can apply their current experiences with other operations and customers to provide you with best practice advice.
How can nutritionists and technical service assist producers?
Nutritionists and technical service staff assist producers with management issues, production goals, feed problems, and various other issues. they can be an asset to the day-to-day successful operation of your farm. These individuals can provide industry advice to help your farm become profitable and hit your production goals to improve your overall bottom line. It is important to ask for help when you have questions early, so that timely solutions can be made available.
What you do when you see health changes in your flock can be vital. First, you should assess the situation by looking at all factors. Things to consider are mortality compared to previous days, feed intake, water intake, and the environment. If all these factors seem relatively normal, monitor the situation by tracking the birds for the next few days. A major factor to bird health is air quality; always keep ventilation in mind, and good bio-security protocols can help clean up simple issues. If a situation like well-below normal water and feed intake occurs, there is abnormal bird mortality for multiple days, or your birds just don’t seem to be doing well for a long stretch of time do not wait to call for help as a major issue could exist with your flock.
In some situations, waiting a day to see if a trend has begun is a good idea. A prime example is a very small increase of mortality; if in one day you lose three birds out of a flock of 10,000, yet lost no bird the day before, you can wait a day to see if the mortality changes the next day. Remember that it is normal to realize some mortality when starting or after moving birds. In these situations it is best to make sure your
birds are eating, drinking, and looking healthy. If you see a rise mortality over the next few days, or anything else seems out of the ordinary, it is time to seek help from a veterinarian.
The right moment to call for help is not always going to be the same. As a responsible producer, you know your operation better than anyone. You see your birds every day and know your flock better than anyone else. The best time to call for help is when you are concerned; if you are concerned, we are concerned. Remember that calling early and getting your issues resolved is going to pay off down the road!