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While the flocks are usually of mixed sex, some operations may grow male and female chickens separately, depending on market requirements.
For example, one company grows out only male chickens in one area, allowing its operations and processing plant in that area to be geared up specifically for larger birds, while sending female chicks to another area.
Three or four temperature sensors in the poultry house allow the fan, heating and cooling settings to be adjusted as often as every three minutes.
Feed lines and pans run the length of the shed and are supplied automatically by silos from outside.
Water lines run the length of the shed, with drinkers at regular intervals.
Water and feed are placed so that chickens are never more than about 2 metres from food and water.
Although the remains of yolk sac taken into its abdomen at hatching contains nutrients and moisture to sustain the chick for up to 72 hours, it is important that chicks receive warmth, feed and water within a reasonable time of hatching.Over the life of the broiler flock only about 4% of chickens are lost.This is through natural causes or selective culling.Air quality is also managed by varying shed ventilation.Depending upon ambient conditions, the brooders will be removed at some time between 4 and 14 days.This practice may stimulate better digestion, improve bone strength and prevent birds from becoming over fat.For further information on what chickens are fed, see Feed.Meat chickens are farmed in large open poultry houses, usually refered to as ‘sheds’, ‘houses’ or barns, but sometines as ‘units’.Shed sizes vary, but a typical new shed is 150 meters long and 15 meters wide and holds about 40,000 adult chickens.On arrival at the broiler farm, day-old chicks are placed onto the floor of the shed, where they are initially confined to an area of between a half to one third of the total shed area (the ‘brooding area’) and given supplementary heating from gas heaters or heat lamps.This is called brooding and the heaters are referred to as brooders.