Chickens! We love them for at least a couple of reasons; because of course, we get from them eggs and meat. Layers are raised for their eggs, while chickens raised for meat are called broilers. These livestock have provided healthy nutrition for man for a very long time. In fact, chickens are said to outnumber humans. This is because people have invested, and keep investing greatly in their production as the demand for their products is very high. Some people solely depend on production and marketing of chickens and chicken products for sustenance, while some venture into the business to ensure additional source of steady income.
Now, this leads us to the reason you made that click on this article. You’re probably considering starting your own broiler production business, you need additional information to better manage your new business, or you’re just the curious type. Whatever your reason is, you have come to the right place.
Now, let’s talk a walk through the very important things to know, and put in place in terms of plans and structures when starting a broiler production business. But of course, there are different scales of broiler production, so the processes discussed here simply describe the things to put in place in order to start the business on a small scale. Once understood however, scale up becomes easier, with addition of the required level of technicality.
The first thing to do; Research your prospective market.
Typically, broilers attain average market size between 6 and 8 weeks. If your reason for producing broilers is to make money from their sales, then definitely, you would require a market survey even before putting the structures in place. A market survey would involve determining if there is an existing market for broilers, and what the market actually demands. You may begin to ask questions like:” Are there people willing and able to pay for the chickens? Where would you find them? How much are they willing to pay, or How much is currently being offered in the market? What age or weight of broilers does the market you have demands?” Getting answers to these questions would help you decide if to proceed, and what necessary plans to make.
Next, the housing is very important.
Once you get the housing right, you would have avoided a lot of problems. One thing you want to do, you want to provide a structure that prevent them from harsh weather, and which will provide environmental conditions that better support their health, growth, and wellbeing. Typically, broilers are raised on a floor (Deep Litter System). You would need to apply a litter material on a cemented floor. The litter serves to absorb droppings and provides a bed for the birds. I would recommend the use of sand as litter as opposed to wood shavings and rice husks alike. This is because sand better absorbs droppings, is relatively cheap, and it can be utilized for a long period over a number of production cycles without complete replacement. However, disinfect the sand before application, and other litter types such as wood shavings should be used for chicks during brooding.
There are a couple of other very important aspects you would need to give attention to when constructing your broiler house.
- Prepare the Brooding house
This is where you raise your day old chicks till they about 2-3 weeks of age, or till when they develop feathers that allows them to be able to control their body temperatures themselves. You should purchase day old chicks at the hatchery, and usually, order for chicks are placed 2 weeks in advance. During the brooding period, chicks require higher temperatures, thus design the brooder house to shut out air, or to incorporate a heating source such as a lantern or charcoal pot. You must always watch the behaviour of the birds in order to understand their heat requirements. Typically, birds would crowd around a heat source when they are cold, while they move away from heat source when the temperature is too high, in which case you should reduce/eliminate the heat, or allow air inflow as necessary. Take the birds out of the brooder after about 3 weeks.
- Provide adequate spacing and ventilation.
Adequate spacing is required in a broiler house. It is essential to the well being of the birds. Allocate a space of 1sqm for 12 birds to ensure proper ventilation and walk through. Therefore a 25sqm area would conveniently accommodate 300 birds. An over crowded house would promote disease transmission and make it difficult to spot unhealthy birds. Make allocation to allow inflow and outflow of air from all four sides by using wire nets. The solid block walls should not be more than 1 meter high. Broilers do well, eat properly, and stay healthy in a properly ventilated house.
After that, ensure constant supply of correct food and clean water
Feeding takes more than 70% of total production cost. Visit the feed mill or feed depots for appropriate feeds. As a personal preference, I place my broilers on 23% protein starter diet till they attain market size. Although this may be more expensive, but it gets the birds ready in 6 weeks approximately. Do not overstock more than you have ability to cater for feeding, because the birds will develop poorly. That said, always make sure feed supply never run out at any moment, and provide clean non-chlorinated water at all times. In order to increase profit by reducing feed cost, learn how to formulate feeds on your own, rather than going for already made feeds at the feed store. Typically, 100 broiler birds will consume 25 bags of feed in 7 – 8 weeks
Also, medication is just as important
The prevention and cure of infections and diseases is just as important as correct feeding. Before stocking your birds, visit the veterinarian or learn about medication requirements for broilers. Typically, you should vaccinate your chicks against such diseases as Newcastle disease, and apply antibiotics into their drinking water constantly. This helps to prevent disease outbreaks. This in turn keeps your bird mortality rate within the acceptable/normal range (< 7%). For better management, endeavor to identify the various diseases, the symptoms and required medication, so you can quickly eliminate infections specifically, and eliminate the cost of inviting a veterinarian most especially when you are a small scale farmer.
Lastly, keep up the hygiene level at all times.
Just like proper medication, proper hygiene would help keep out infections and ensure better broiler performance. Useful tips include: keep the house tidy, scrape off wet litter, change litter when droppings accumulate, wash and/or disinfect drinkers daily with non-toxic dusinfectants.
Having taken care of the above details, your broilers should be ready for the market in 8 weeks or less, and you can joyfully smile to the bank. I hope this article has been able to provide the needed directions for you to start and manage your broiler production business. Remember, the bitterness of poor quality last longer than the sweetness of lower cost. Invest in quality.