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Monitoring Body Weights in Grow

The body weight and body weight uniformity is the best indicator of how well the pullet flock is performing. In the past, shank length was used as an indicator of pullet-flock performance, but it is difficult to influence shank length without also influencing body weight. As a result, monitoring the pullets' body weight on a regular basis throughout grow is recommended.

The pullets' rate of body weight gain can be controlled, in part, by the lighting program. Moreover, the rate of body weight gain is influenced by nutrition, the number and timing of beak treatments, the vaccination program, and the overall health status of the pullets. Birds grown on the floor will expend more energy and will often be as much as 50 g (0.1 lb) lower in body weight at 12 weeks of age than cage-grown birds. To offset any decrease in egg size caused by low body weights, it is common to delay light stimulation until the pullets reach the breed's stimulation body weight (usually the 18-week target weight).

Body weights should be monitored weekly during the growing period and at least until after peak. A minimum of 100 birds should be weighed individually with a scale having increments no larger than 50 g or 1/10 lb. Weighing should be started at 2 to 3 weeks of age and continued every week. It is most critical to weigh just prior to a scheduled feed change. If the flock is below target body weight, it should be left on the higher-nutrient feed formulation until the target weight for age is reached (see the Feeding the Pullet section). If the 18-week target weight cannot be reached, then attempt to increase body weight uniformity to better manage the flock in lay.

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