Although this article was written for larger chicken operations, the principles apply to small operations as well.
Here we look at the effects of stocking density, one of the most important stress factors affecting production and yield in poultry farming.
High stocking density causes reduced feed consumption, lower growth rates and poor-quality carcasses. Besides, high stocking density may be associated with a surge in airborne pathogens.
Feed intake and conversion
A reduction of feed intake in response to increasing stocking density is often reported to be the result of feed restriction. The heat stress resulting from the increased temperature inside the litter and in between the birds with higher stocking densities, along with the increased level of ammonia, is also a factor contributing to reduced feed intake even though the feeder space per bird is kept constant. The reduced feed intake may result in better feed conversion when stocking density increases, but in many cases, feed conversion may not be affected and may even be worse.