ANDREW BOURNE, broiler specialist – World Technical Support, Cobb–Vantress Escalating commodity prices are decreasing profit margins and driving producers to seek ways of optimising their performance. Growers need to take a hard look at their management to find ways to fine tune their performance and gain the extra couple of cents per kg advantage. The key to success lies in establishing the physiological ‘building blocks’ – a well developed skeleton and healthy cardio vascular system. The importance of the brooding period cannot be emphasised enough, as this is the only opportunity to achieve such growth in a single week. The brooding period sets the precedent for good performance. To achieve the best start, the grower must provide the optimum transition from a hatchery to brooding environment which includes making sure the chicks begin feeding and drinking straightaway. The five brooding essentials are equally weighted in their importance: Feed access – immediate access to clean, fresh feed is essential – chicks should never have to search for their next meal. Temperature management – suitable litter and ambient temperatures at placement are needed for good activity. Fresh air – modern selection methods have produced a broiler that requires high levels of oxygen. Clean water – the adage ‘if the grower cannot drink the water the chicks should not’ holds true. High light intensity – well distributed light of at least 20 lux across the brooding area will ensure good activity. Good activity means good feed consumption. Follow these essentials and you’ll be well ahead in giving the chicks the good start that will enable them to take full advantage of the Cobb500’s ability to achieve the least cost advantage in producing chicken meat. We will be considering each of these five essentials in more detail in the coming months.