Research on broilers and egg layers can be simultaneously carried out

The first of its kind model Environment Control Chambers (ECC) in India for research purposes will be put to use at the Namakkal Veterinary College and Research Centre (VC&RI) from Monday.

“It was established at Rs. 52 lakh — Rs. 47 lakh funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Rs. 5 lakh from the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University,” Dean of VC&RI Dr. K.A. Duraisamy said.

He told The Hindu that there are six separate chambers in the model research facility in which research can be simultaneous carried out among broilers and egg laying (layer) chicken under different artificially maintained climatic conditions.

“Research can be carried in about 2,400 broilers or 5,000 layers with focus on enabling quicker weight gain in broilers and improving quality and egg laying efficiency of layers,” he added.

Head of Animal Nutrition Department Dr. D. Chandrasekaran who will spearhead research in the ECC said that the chambers with walls on all its sides will help in maintaining the desired temperature with the help of big air coolers, exhaust fans to take away foul smell and sensors to monitor and maintain the conditions inside the room with preset conditions in a feeder.

“ECC — also known as poultry farms closed with side walls — is widely established and used in developed countries. In India there are very few ECC for broilers. Of the 1,000 layer farms in the country’s egg production hub (Namakkal) only two are ECC. This is due to the lack of awareness on the benefits of ECC among poultry farmers,” he added.

Recalling his research experience in the United Kingdom and active role played to establish and operate ECC in India, he said that ECCs have a host of advantages over sheds with open sides.

“Time taken for a broiler to reach full size of two kg is 42 days. In ECC broilers gain the same weight in 30 days as conducive conditions are maintained inside the ECCs,” Dr. Chandrasekaran said.

In the layer industry it reduces feed intake by 10 per cent and benefits farmers who are facing hardships due to escalating feed prices.

“On the other hand ECC with about one lakh chicken can be maintained by only one labourer against the more than a dozen in the existing sheds. It also reduces mortality rate of birds in summer,” he added.

According to him another salient feature ECC is protection for birds from aerial infections. n the research front, he said that focus will be in extending the efficiency of layers from the existing prime egg laying period when it is 18 to 72 weeks old and to improve weight gaining process in broilers in a shorter time frame. He said that the area needed for establishing an ECC is only 20 per cent of the space in which the farms are functioning, while investment is also only about a third of the investment for an existing shed.

Poultry farmers said that they will not be able to make a heavy investment to replace their open shed farms with ECC as they cannot afford to do it as the industry is in a very bad shape now.

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