Poultry farming is a business that needs many role players as well as many different management procedures, which form the parts of a successful poultry enterprise. If the role players or management procedures are not correct the poultry farmer is bound to fail.
Due to the increasing demand for chickens and eggs and also the quest for self-employment, many people are interested in turning their careers into poultry farming with mixed results. Some have succeeded while due to poor planning, others become failed. They become failed due to their failure to the plan.
Starting a poultry farming business involves everything from
- Building poultry pens
- Taking care of chicks
- Brooding chicks
- Chicks vaccination
- Selling of eggs and meat produced to consumers.
Some Essentials Tips for a Successful Poultry Farming Business
Prepare a Tentative Business Plan
A business plan for starting a poultry farming business is like a road map leading you to where you are going in your business. Before you venture into the poultry farming business, you need to sit back and do proper calculations and planning.
Make sure you have an idea of what you are going into, and all the costs involved. You’ll need to factor in any equipment costs such as
- Housing construction
- Purchase of feeders
- Laying nests
- Egg handling nests
- Water pot etc.
Another cost to put into consideration is the chicks themselves. You’ll need to pay for all the feed they will consume at an alarming rate until they reach market size. You may need medications or supplements as well.
Another part of the poultry farming business plan is making specific, measurable goals, like
- How many layers or broilers will you raise for your first run?
- What is the market size?
- What equipment will you need to run the farm: fencing, housing, waterers, and feeders?
Select a Niche to Focus on
Decide on which area of poultry farming you’d like to venture into:
- You should enter the business well-prepared by considering all of its aspects
- You have to take every step wisely
- Do not forget that there are many other poultry businesses out there
- You will be competing with them.
The following areas are the major available poultry farming niches for decision making
This has to do with breeding layers to produce eggs. On factory farms, where the vast majority of the global egg supply comes from, eggs are produced by subjecting female chickens, known as laying hens, to unbelievable acts of cruelty.
Thousands of birds are crammed together, often in filthy, darkened places where the birds have almost no ability to engage in natural behaviors. Meanwhile, their bodies are pushed to produce as many eggs as possible: almost one a day. Learn more
Broilers and Cockerel are kept for the production of chicken meat. Cockerels are rugged, they can absorb shocks far better than broilers and layers. They have high survival capacity and can withstand bad weather.
However, it takes a longer time for cockerels to reach maturity than broilers. Poultry meat and eggs are among the animal-source foods most widely eaten at the global level, across greatly diverse cultures, traditions, and religions.
Consumption of poultry meat and eggs, and of animal-source foods in general, has increased rapidly in past decades. Growing demand has mostly been driven by population growth, urbanization, and rising incomes in developing countries.
Chicken dominates meat consumption as it is generally affordable, low in fat, and faces few religious and cultural barriers. Demand for poultry meat and eggs is expected to continue increasing due to population growth and rising individual consumption.
The market for poultry meat is projected to increase regardless of region or income level, with per capita growth slightly higher in developing than in developed regions. Poultry meat and eggs contribute to human nutrition by providing high-quality protein and low levels of fat, with a desirable fatty acid profile. Learn more
The business of hatchery has to do with breeding chicken for the purpose of producing new chicks. An incubator is used to achieve this purpose. The hatchery is used to raise eggs under controlled conditions. Most poultry hatcheries operate under a vertically integrated system, where the company that owns or supplies the hatchery also owns the breeder chickens.
Companies typically enter contracts with poultry farmers to produce hatching eggs or hire employees to operate the hatchery. Once eggs arrive at a hatchery facility they are moved through a process of stages. Because the eggs are fragile, all handling is minimized.
Once arranged on trays, the eggs are then stored at 55-65° F and 70% humidity for 10 days in egg-holding or “egg-cooler” rooms. From here, eggs are moved into a pre-incubation warming room to dry any condensed humidity in the warmer air.
In the poultry farming business, feed production focuses basically on producing feeds for other poultry farmers. Poultry feed production is generally divided into the following steps:
- Receiving and cleaning of feed ingredients Crushing of raw materials
- Packaging of finished feed
There are many factors that affect the quality of poultry feed.
Whether the feed formula is scientific and reasonable, the quality of the raw materials and the quality of the processed feed will directly affect the quality of the compound feed. The feed formula determines the nutritional value of the finished feed.
Low nutrient levels or unreasonable proportions of nutrients will seriously affect the feeding effect of the farmed objects and cause waste of feed ingredients. In addition, if the processing quality such as
- Mixing uniformity
- Particle size
- Gelatinization degree
Cannot meet the standard requirements, and the advantages of the original formula cannot be guaranteed, which will affect the feeding effect of the poultry feed pellets. Learn more
Depending on your capacity, you may choose to focus on one stream or combine two or more of the poultry farming niche. Determine your production purpose, select proper poultry breeds according to your desired production and go for the detailed planning.
Knowing Your Market
Know your market and develop a marketing strategy you need to identify your market. Ask yourself questions like;
- Who are my local buyers?
- What product (eggs or meat) are they buying more?
- Will I sell to consumers directly from my farm (and if so, how will they know where to find me)?
- Will I process the chicken by myself, or outsource the function?
All these will help you design a marketing strategy. Advertise yourself by simply letting other people know you have eggs or meat you want to sell. Utilize the power of social media to broadcast your poultry farming business. If you can, set up a website and manage it.
Select a Good Farm Location
You should think of setting your poultry farm at the most appropriate location. Select a location that has all the required facilities and favourable for your business. Try to build your poultry farm not too far from the town.
Because most of the towns have a high-density population, you have to target that market. Also, try to avoid setting up the farm in residential areas, because poultry farms produce an offensive odour. Apart from the air pollution from keeping poultry, chicken makes a lot of noise.
If you want something you can keep close to residential areas, try the snail farming business. You need to Raise your animals in accordance with local, state/provincial, and federal laws. While selecting the farm location, consider the transportation system and medication facilities also.
Purchase Basic Equipment for Keeping Poultry Farming
For you to achieve the maximum result in your poultry farming business, there are certain types of equipment that are necessary. A list of the required equipment is given below for running a poultry farm successfully.
- Feeders: These are used for placing food for the birds.
- Water pots and drinkers: Used for supplying drinking water to the birds.
- Laying Nests: The nest offers a secluded and comfortable environment in which the hen can lay eggs undisturbed
- Egg tray: Used for handling and sampling eggs.
- Cages and Coops: These are used for keeping poultry birds. It is the chicken house.
- Egg scale: An instrument used for weighing eggs.
- Crates: Crates are used for transporting chicken to the market.
- Incubator: This is a machine used to hatch eggs. It is used in a hatchery.
- Egg washer: This equipment makes use of egg washing powder for washing eggs before delivery.
- Lighting instruments: This provides light to the poultry farm and also serves as a source of heat for the birds.
- Perches: As they imply, it is an object designed for the chicken to perch on.
- Brooders or Heaters: The heater or brooder is the equipment used in increasing the temperature of the poultry farm. This helps to keep the birds warm when the weather is cold.
- Ventilation system: This provides ventilation for the birds, keeping them cool in hot weather.
- Dressing machines: Used to remove feathers from birds after slaughter. It is used in meat production units.
There are many other types of equipment used, however, it depends on the need of the poultry farm and the poultry farming system adopted.
Select a Method for Raising the Chicken
You may decide to use a Free-range system which allows your chicken to roam about the farm. This system of poultry farming business consumes a lot of space. But, it provides a natural feeling for the birds.
In the conventional system of keeping poultry, chickens are confined in barns with controlled temperatures and lighting. This system provides optimum use of space as poultry cages can be stacked upon one another.
Purchase Your Starting Chicken
After setting everything up and having everything ready, purchase quality young chicken from a trusted breeder in your area and start caring for them. As a beginner, you should start with a minimum number of birds which will cost you pretty less money.
Feeding and Nutrition
Nutrition is an important part of poultry farming because the performance of chickens and other poultry birds depends majorly on their nutrition. Poor nutrition is the major cause of loss and predisposes birds to disease, a poor immune response to vaccines, and predation.
Layers and broilers have their own specific nutritional requirements. These requirements must be considered when formulating their feed.
You can purchase the feed ingredients from the market and prepare the feed for yourself or purchase ready-made poultry feeds from the market. Whichever way you decide to use it, ensure your feed meets the required standard for the birds.
Poultry birds are prone to various types of diseases especially
- Newcastle Disease, which occurs at times of climatic and nutritional stress
- Fowl cholera (pasteurellosis), coccidiosis, Gumboro disease (infectious Bursal disease), and fowlpox can also, cause problems for birds.
- Other poultry diseases can be found online. You have to be ready for controlling them. Vaccinate your chicken timely and always try to provide them with fresh water and food. Also, stock some required vaccines and medicine so that you can use them when needed.
Why some poultry farmers fail in their projects
In order to make a good profit, specific operational principles must not be ignored. When such principles are ignored by the poultry farm management system, it results in serious losses. So before starting a poultry farming business, it is wise to learn more about the business and contact, take some time, and try to understand why most poultry farmers make good profits and some of them fail.
Below are some of the major reasons why poultry farming businesses fail.
Insufficient knowledge (lack of know-how)
Most rush to farming after seeing their neighbour’s harvests. They don’t take their time to learn about market dynamics and the demand and supply curves.
Lack of persistence
- Most want instant gratification
- They want to be millionaires overnight
- They don’t want to face disease challenges or market challenges
All they want is more and more profits. I am sorry to burst your bubble but the poultry farming business doesn’t work that way. You’ve to toil and sweat. Nothing comes easily.
High cost of feeds and poultry farming equipment
This has been a pain in the neck. The cost of production has gone over the roof in recent times due to this. I always advise farmers to use creativity and improvise these things e.g buckets in place of drinkers and feeders. Proper feeding management without any wastage is also very important.
Insufficient knowledge of marketing
This is demoralizing at the same time heartbreaking. Marketing is a system to push poultry farming products to the market and to highlight the relative advantages of the product that differs from other products after taking all the quality measures that make the customer buy a certain product and refrain from buying the other product.
The importance of marketing in poultry farming is evident in open societies and commercial markets that follow the market economy. The importance of marketing also appears when increasing the supply over demand, diversifying products, and opening up the markets of countries to competing products.
Marketing differs greatly from sales. Selling is waiting for the customer to come to you. The product is demanded, paid for, received, and then passed. The policy of sale is no longer applicable in open-trade communities. Sales policy succeeds only when supply is scarce, demand is over, and the number of competitors is low.
The poultry and its products are not stored for long periods, making the speed of marketing very important and requires sacrifice to the extent of incurring significant losses in order to market the product and the company must care in dealing with customers at the time of sale as they deal in time of depression.
Lack of professionals
Farmers have to make do with trial and error. Due to this, they are left in limbo not able to fight challenges e.g diseases and they really lose a lot. Many people start the poultry farming business without seeking professional help such as seeking assistance from consultants and veterinary doctors.
Many farmers fall victim to disease outbreaks that could have been prevented or do not know how to control the outbreak. Some people also go into the poultry farming business with information from unauthorized sources. All these contribute to the problems of poultry farmers globally.
This very serious problem due to insufficient knowledge of disease management. Most farmers don’t follow strict vaccination programs and biosecurity therefore the birds end up dying en masse.
Middle-men and brokers
These are double-edged swords. Some are good while others are outright evil. Some can be farmers’ worst nightmare as they can take the lion’s share of the product due to the knowledge of the market. They promise you heaven and give you hell.
Wrongly advised farmers
There is a farmer who was advised by a fellow farmer to give her pullets of cow feed and other animals’ meals in order to start laying early. The birds matured but even at 7 months, none had started laying. Please farmers’ jealousy and envy are bad for business. If you don’t want to consult a professional you will end up with serious losses.
Guidelines for Brooding in Poultry Farming
Early placement of chicks in the house, and access to fresh clean water and feed after arrival are important
The time of transport from the hatchery to the farm should be as quick as possible. There is no need for the further delay once you have collected your birds from the hatchery/sales point. On placement, provide an hour of clean water mixed with glucose or Vitastress, and wait to give feed until the one-hour period of water is done. This helps to avoid constipation issues in chicks!
Once again, make sure good feed and fresh clean drinking water are readily available and easily accessible to reduce the time for searching for feed and water by the newly arrived chicks. Please note that putting water/drinkers near pots or any other heat source is not good, when water is hot birds do not drink it.
Four hours after placement, randomly pick some of the chicks and check the crop fill. The target crop fill should be 85%. After 12hrs, it should be above 95%, and after 24hrs, the target crop fill should be above 98 to 100%.
The use of digestible raw materials in making feed for the chicks
This is necessary as their digestive system is not mature and always use chick feed from reputable commercial feed manufacturers like (methi chicken in Ethiopia). Don’t try to produce your own feed if you are not an expert in that field, instead purchase goods and approved feed suppliers within your locality to avoid stories that touch.
Place highly hygienic materials that have been adequately sanitized and disinfected in the brooding house
You should know that the chicks’ immune response is not fully developed any health compromise might be more devastating for young chicks compared to older ones. Biosecurity measures like
- Foot baths
- Disinfection of premises
- Disinfection of equipment should be done using a struct and trusted disinfectant
Don’t joke with biosecurity. If you miss it, then you miss out. Restrict access to your day-old chicks, have some workers dedicated to looking after the brooder but not allowing everyone to enter, and these workers should not be working anywhere else! all equipment should have been washed, disinfected, and sanitized with appropriate disinfectants.
A designated Uniform/clothing for the purpose of caring for your birds should be worn by the person/stockman caring for the birds. If not, once the immunity of your birds is compromised be ready to start counting your losses from the onset.
Provide a breed-specific diet of high quality as this will enable the chicks to consume the amount needed for adequate growth
For broilers, you should give broiler feed. Which has both a starter and a finisher. Avoid overcrowding as this leads to competition for feed and water And causes pecking in chicks. Moreover, this will lead ultimately to a high number of lighter birds that will end up being disadvantaged when it is time for scrambling for feed in the midst of other heavier birds in the flock.
These lighter birds that you created in the brooder are the same birds you will see in your poultry house being chased around, and hiding in laying boxes and perches. Overcrowding leads to poor growth and low production percentage when birds grow!
Much as we advise that you keep the brooder sealed off from draught, we do not mean that you deny the bird’s air exchange. Now, do not just seal off everywhere! Leave enough breathing space in the brooder! Do not leave ammonia to build up in the house, open it up during the day for the ammonia and dust to get out.
Try to achieve good uniformity. i.e birds falling within similar average body weight. In layers, lighter and heavier birds are difficult to design feed programs for. You can separate them and grow each group together to allow light birds to gain weight faster and catch before laying begins.
This will enable a large percentage of the whole flock to attain peak production at the same time. Remember, the main aim is to maximize profit in poultry by stopping disease challenges, reducing mortality, reducing antibiotics expenses and veterinary bills, and keeping them healthy and productive.
Before starting your poultry farming business, try to learn more about the business and visit some farms if possible. Consult with other farmers in your area and start with a minimum number of birds for the first time. Gather enough experience and gradually expand your farm.
You can follow Dr. Fami on Facebook for more information on the poultry farming business and other veterinary-related content.
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