Broiler Stocking Density

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The ideal density at which to place broilers during grow-out is an ongoing debate. There is no definitive answer to this question. It is natural to assume that birds will perform better when given more space. However, it’s not more space but the improved environment that the added space may provide that is important. The modern broiler house enables producers to have great control over the house environment. Birds can be placed at higher densities as long as the correct environment (temperature, ventilation, humidity) is provided. Factors to consider when determining stocking density include but are not limited to bird size, feeder space, drinker space, house dimensions, bird welfare, nutrition, breed, performance and economic return. The ultimate goal is to maximize pounds of chicken produced per square foot while preventing production losses due to overcrowding. In many cases, producers have to settle for slightly reduced performance to achieve a satisfactory economic return. Another concern with increased stocking density is broiler welfare. Animal activist groups request that broilers be given more space during grow-out and cite behavioral and physiological stress as the reason.

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