October 8, 2017

How to set up successful poultry farming business

poultry farming business in Nigeria-layers

How to set up successful poultry farming business

Poultry farming has long been part of our culture, especially in this part of the world. I remeber back in the days, whenever there’s a new set of hatchlings in the home, each of the chicks would get “assigned” to the children in the home. And then it became your responsibility to cater for that little chick from chickhood to henhood/roosterhood as the case may be. It was “our” chicken. Ironically, whenever there’s a celebration and the chickens are slaughtered and prepared, I often got the best portion- the head!, and not even a full one at that, the lower jaw would have been dissected away….just imagine!

The point I’m trying to make generally is that poultry farming, especially chicken has been with us for a long time. It is  a kind of farming venture that one can start small and grow big which is appropriate for anyone with limited finances. Of course, there’s a big difference between the  traditional apprroach and the modern approach to poultry farming in terms of breeding, feeding, even the scale and target of the venture. Other birds that can be kept on a commercial basis include turkey, ducks e.t.c.

Of all the numerous factors that make poultry business ideal, the fast rate at which chickens grow and mature is the most enticing. A day-old chicken can attain market weight of 3kg-4.5kg and be ready for sale in less than 20 weeks (4-5 months).

Annually, Nigeria spends upwards of N660 billion on the importation of poultry products icluding dressed birds and eggs. The plain trruth is that local production at the current level cannot satisfy the market demand for poultry in Nigeria. It’s obvious that there’s a huge market potential there for the taking. You can take this potential opportunity and turn it into a reasonable income stream. Chicken mature within a relatively short period of time. A day old chick can be ready for the market within 3 months. You can go into the layers business and prodiuce eggs, or you could focus on broilers production. You could even combine the two together. So without much further ado, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of starting a successful poultry farming business in Nigeria. Another possible venture is hatchery which involves breeding chicken for the main purpose of producing new chicks for onward sales. Note however that poultry farming is not a money doubling scheme. Just like any other legitimate business, it requires dedication, perseverance and buisness acumen as well.

Requirements for poultry farming:

Draw up a business plan:

He who failed to plan  has planned to fail. You should draw up a business plan in order to give yourself a fair picture of the total financial implicattion of starting your poultry farm. It will also help you spend your limited funds wisely, by applyingg simple economic concepts such as scale of preference and opportunity cost.

Be sure of having plans of disposing your birds once they’re up to weight cos each extra day they stay means they’re eating into your profit.- Have it at the back of your mind, that birds die, out of circumstances beyond your control. It’s virtually impossible to start with let’s say 500 birds and sell 500 birds. As your level of expertise continue to improve however, casualties will be reduced to the barest minimum.

The profit margin on broilers raised on a commercial basis vary from 400-450 per bird. Know though that other factors can affect your profit, especially competition from other poultry farmers, and the time of the year in which your broilers mature.

Source for investment capital:

If you have done a good job in drawing up a business plan, then this stage should be relatively easier, as you have a clearer picture of how much you need, and how much will do. Write down your detailed capital and investment requirements and start sourcing for funds if you don’t have it already.

Like every other farming projects, the scale at which you plan to operate will determine the investment required. It will also have an impact on your operating costs. You need to decide on the level of capital investment you are willing to commit into this business before starting.

Small scale poultry farming (50 birds or less) kept in cages at the backyard of your house will require about N80,000 initial capital outlay to start. A medium scale poultry farming that requires land and housing and other poutry equipments might requireabout N500,000 to N5 Million to start, while a large scale or Intensive poultry farming that requires high level of sophistication and more careful planning and dedicatde supervision, using advance Livestock farming techniques requires scapital in the range of  millions of naira.

Decide the type of chicken you want to breed:

You have to choose your area of interest where you would like to concentrate your business. This will ensure high level of focus and professionalism. Some of the major sub-ventures in Poultry Farming from which you can choose include: layer’s production, broilers’ production, and hatchery.

Layers Breeding which is egg production by Layers:

The poultry birds which are raised for egg production are called layer poultry. Commercial hen generally starts laying eggs at the age of 16-20 weeks. They start laying eggs regularly at their 25 weeks of age. Egg production of layer poultry get reduced after 70-72 weeks of age. For commercial layer poultry farming, producers generally keep the hens for 12 months from their first laying period. And then sell them for slaughter purpose. For commercial egg laying poultry farming systems, the environmental conditions are often automatically controlled by the producers. For a simple example, presence of light helps the bird for laying eggs earlier. So, the producers should provide more lightening period to increase the probability of beginning laying eggs. The egg-laying birds lays more eggs in warmer months than the cold months. So, keeping the temperature of the room moderate will be very helpful for better egg production. Some commercial egg laying chicken breeds can produce more than 300 eggs a year. At the end of their productive laying cycle, layers are often sold off to rinvigorate the poultry busines.s. The term “old layers” springs to mind.

Broilers breeding which referrers to the chicken meat production by Broilers:

Broilers are usualy raised using the indoor breeding method. In this method broilers are kept inside a house. Rice hulls, wood shavings, peanut shells etc. are used as litter in the floor of the house. In this system the broilers are kept in a large and open house (known as growout houses) and they become suitable for consumption within their 16 to20 weeks of age.  This types of poultry houses are well equipped with mechanical systems for delivering the feed and water to the poultry birds. Well ventilation system, coolers and heaters are must. It is very important to keep the house always dry and clean. Generally a house of 400 feet long and 40 feet wide can accommodate about 20,000 birds. One-half square feet space is required per bird.

Hatchery which has to do with breeding chicken for the purpose of Hatching new chicks:

Establishing a chicken hatchery demands a sufficient area for the operation. You will need to provide the housing for the one-day chicks. In addition, you must provide the space for incubator operation, vaccinations, etc. Ensure the adequate supply of water and electricity. An area of 2000 Sq Ft is perfect for a small-scale hatchery operation.

Generally, you can start by two ways. Either with eggs or with one-day chicks. Even though the best result will be gotten  from the second option, both hatchery techniques can be employed to good effect.

It is recommendeed that you procure one-day old parent stock chicks of improved species of broiler and layer from a reputable supplier. Then transfer the chicks to poultry sheds. You have to provide balanced nutrition to these birds depending upon their age and variety up to laying stage. After they lay eggs collect them and transfer to the hatchery section. However, you must clean the eggs thoroughly to get rid of foreign matters. Then check the eggs for their suitability for hatching. You must segregate the eggs having cracked shells and unfertile eggs.

Then store the eggs in air conditioned room in order to bring down normal to a suitable temperature. Transfer the conditioned eggs to setter incubators and incubate for 18 days. You must maintain a temperature of 99.9ºF and relative humidity of 82% in the setter incubators. At the end of 18th day, you have to transfer the eggs to holder incubators. There maintain a temperature of 98.9ºF and relative humidity of 87% and incubate for 3 days.

At the end of 21 days, chicks come out after breaking egg shells. You must remove the egg shell and membranes. Then you will need to check the each chick for its sex and separate out. Now you must provide medicines and vaccines to each and every chick. Thus your chicks are then ready for sale.

You may choose to Breed Layers and Broilers at a time or one of them. Hatchery can be done independently. Choose what you feel you’re more comfortable with, with due consideration with local market demand around your poultry.

Poultry Housing:

Adequate housing is a pre-requisite for any animal farmer that wants to be successful. Poultry are kept under a wide range of conditions, which can be classified into one of four broad production systems viz:

  • free-range extensive;
  • backyard extensive;
  • semi-intensive; and
  • intensive.

The most appropriate housing system for a commercial poultry farm is the intensive system. Under this system, birds are fully confined either in houses or cages. The initial Capital outlay is relatively higher compared to the other systems as the birds are totally dependent on their owners for all their requirements. The yield is nevertheless quite high as well since the birds get better care, attention and feeding. There are three types of intensive systems:

Deep litter system: The birds are completely confined in a house or room, but can still roam around freely. The floor is covered with deep litter to depths of about 5 to 10 cm.This could be wood shavings(not saw dust), rice husk, straw, wood shavings or a similarly absorbent (but non-toxic) material. The fully enclosed system protects the birds from thieves and predators and is suitable for specially selected commercial breeds of egg or meat-producing poultry (layers, breeder flocks and broilers).

Slatted floor system: wire or wooden slatted floors are used instead of deep litter, which allow stocking rates to be increased to five birds/m2 of floor space. Birds have reduced contact with faeces and are allowed some freedom of movement.

Battery cage system: this is usually used for laying birds, which are kept throughout their productive life in cages. There is a high initial capital investment, and the system is mostly confined to large-scale commercial egg layer operations.

In selecting a suitable housing system for your poultry farming project, always keep sufficient space in your poultry house, depending on the birds. So that your birds can live, grow and produce happily. Overcrowding increases competition and increases the risk of infection spread. Other factors you must consider include:

  • Good ventilation system is a must. Ensure that you poultry houses are well ventilated.
  • You also have to ensure sufficient flow of fresh air and light inside the house.
  • If you go for commercial production, keep proper distance between one house to another house.
  • Clean the house and equipment on a regular basis. Sterilize the house before bringing new chicks into your farm.
  • Take pro-active measures to prevent all types of predators and harmful animals.
  • Ensure suitable temperature management so that you birds do not suffer by excessive hot or cold.
  • Crete appropriate drainage system inside the house for cleaning it properly.
  • Making poultry houses in calm and quite place is always a good idea as chickens can become easily distracted, and this has been shown affect their overall performance, especially in layers.

 Select your poultry location:

The location of your poultry will have a direct effect on both your startup cost and operating expenses. A location in a very remote rural area will cost far less than the one close to the urban area. Remote rural area with good road is the ideal location as you will be free from regulatory agencies and drive down the cost of labor too. Otherwise, you can start with a few birds in cages in your backyard, if you and your neighbours don’t mind the emanating odour. Be aware though tha setting up poultry farms around living neighbourhoods might be against government policy due to health and environmental implications. You might want to check that out before taking the next step.

Setting Up Your Poultry Farm

With the most important groundwork already done, you can now proceed with buying your stock livestock. Look for good Hatchery where you can get healthy day old chicks to start with. Cost range from N140 to N300 these days.

Always feed your poultry birds healthy and nutritious feeds. Feeding high quality, fresh and nutritious food always ensures good health, proper growth and high production. Add all types of necessary vitamins and minerals to their feed. Commercial poultry feeds for various types of birds are available in the market. Apart from feeding your birds high quality and nutritious feeds, always serve them sufficient amount of fresh and clean water according to their demand. Always remember, no hormones or steroids are permitted in raising chickens.

Success in the poultry farming business mostly depends on feeding quality feed and feed formulation system. For proper growth, egg production and good health, poultry birds require energy. In order to obtain desired growth rate, you must have to purchase and provide highly nutritious poultry feed. As a poultry farmer, you should always produce and sell fresh and healthy birds and quality eggs. For producing quality eggs and meat you have to feed your birds quality feed. There’s no shortcut around that. This will also help to get maximum returns from your poultry farming business. Lack of adequate supply of pure water can causes different types of problems. It hinders the growth of young poultry birds and also causes early moulting in the laying flock, and directly minimize egg production.

It is essential to ensure that Vitamin B complex is present in adequate proportions in your chicken feed. It helps to increase the growth of poultry and chickens. It also helps to prevent curled-toe paralysis in young chickens.

Growing Chickens Feed
For raising young chicks, a diet enriched with protein and containing balanced mineral is very useful. Two pounds of chicken starter dry mash is suitable enough for one chicken that is about six weeks of age. You always have to concentrate on the diet of growing chicks to ensure rapid growth and good health of your chickens. For better result, you can mix starter at home. Usually about 90 kg of commercial starter mash is sufficient enough for each 100 chickens. While purchasing commercial starter mash, choose popular brand in the market. Store the feed in a cool and dry place, and provide fresh food daily. After hatching, start feeding the chicks when they want to eat. Provide them dry mash by using a clean cardboard. After their two or three days of age, give them dry mash with self feeders (when all the chicks can eat). You have to ensure constant supply of adequate fresh and clean water according to their demand. Separate all the hard insoluble grit from their food by keeping the food in pans or hoppers. Add some dry cracked wheat with dry mash, when the bird reach the age of three or four weeks. Poultry feed mixture for different aged bird are shown below.

Laying Hens Rations
If you want to make maximum profit from layer poultry farming business, then you have to feed the birds well balanced and nutritious food from their chick stage. Usually laying hens need some form of protein supplement in addition to other feed ingredients. Minerals and vitamins also play a significant role for producing desired amount of eggs. Laying hens require balance diet with additional energy during this period. Because they use a large amount of energy for keeping their body warm. And they get this extra energy from additional energy enriched foods. Wheat , grains, clover hey etc. are helpful for laying hens. Always try to provide your birds sufficient amount of clean and fresh drinking water, along with providing them nutritious food.

Providing quality poultry feed play a vital role in overall production from your poultry farming business. So always try to feed your birds quality and nutritious feed according to their demand. And always ensure availability of sufficient amount of clean and fresh water.

Provide Source of heat:

In the natural settings, young chicks are protected from excess cold, especially during the harmattan by snugly hiding beneath their mother’s feathers. Failure to provide something similar for your  chicks may have serious consequences, including yes, you guessed, deaths. Ensure that you provide adequate and non- destructive source of light and warmth for your chicks. Commercial heaters are available, however, you can also use light bulbs as your heat source.

Common challenges of chicken farming

Limited finances: The problem of funding probably is the most important challenge which affects more than 80% of farmers globally.  The level of capital available to you goes a long way towards determining the size of your farm as well as how well-equipped your farm will be.

Getting access to small loans with affordable interest rates from both commercial and micro finance banks is diffcult due to their high interest rates.

Infections affecting poultry farm: Infections and parasites can cause losses in egg production and slow down rate of growth in poultry business. Some breeds of birds are resistance to certain diseases which make them superior to those that are easily infected. Cleanliness should practised throughout your poultry operations to help with prevention of infections and rstrict transmission of diseases among your chicken.

Antibiotics and vaccinaes have been used in poultry farming to treat certain infections such as bronchitis, fowl pox, and avian influenza (bird flu). It has also been confirmed that use of antibiotics, especially Vit B12 improves the health of chickens, resulting in the chickens laying more eggs and experiencing lower mortality rates and less illness. Oftentimes, anitibiotics are mixed with the water from which the birds drink.

It is a very good and sensible idea to have a Vet doctor come around and check your birds once in a while and if you suspect something not quite right. You can also consult them before getting your day old chick for advice and directions. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.

Overcrowding: Overcrowding also increases the rsik of infection spread especially on amlarge farms. This can have severe health and economical implications on your poultry business.

Lack of adequate information to set up a poultry farming system:
Knowledge they say, is power. In order to make a success of any business or in anything at all, you need the right information about that thing. Geting the wrong information or getting information from the wrong source, can make you lose your investment and end up at square one.

Feed related poultry problems:
Nutritional deficiencies can adversely affect the growth of pullets and the level of production of hens. The volume of feed a bird will eats depend on several factors such as: age, size, rate of egg production, energy level of the feed and temperature of the poultry house.

Quality of eggs is affected by the feed they eat, the quality of egg shell is determined by the level (amount) and the presence of vitamin D, Calcium and other minerals in the feed. Pigment in the feed determine the yolk color of the eggs, to achieve the maximum egg size in production, the level of protein in the feed come in place and fatty acid.

Pecking/Debeaking: If beaks are left untrimmed there is an increased danger of feather pecking especially among layers. This in turn can quickly lead to what is known as ‘injurious pecking’, and in a worst case scenario, multiple deaths can be caused through injury. The practice of debeaking of chicken is currently a controversial one. However it’s still good to know about this problem in order to know what to watch out for.

This has been a rather long ride and I hope you enjoyed it. For your comments and questions, please feel free to make use of the comments section. Don’t forget to like and share this page on your social media pages. For more information on other businesses you can start up with little capital, check our updated list here.

Thanks for reading and do have a wonderful day.

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