Poultry farming is increasingly becoming lucrative not only in Kenya, but globally. However, most of the literature about this enterprise tend to surround about the profitability side without tackling the how question. This has attracted many to take on the enterprise by bandwagon, only to end up in losses. In this article however, you will measure up whether taking on poultry farming is a worthwhile investment since it is more focused on the economics of rearing birds. How much you will spend on each bird daily and what are the expected returns?
You must start with the idea (business plan). Whether you have the money, you must first seek information. Plan carefully to comfortably manage a small or large farm. Many farmers start rearing birds out of excitement, someone will buy chicks without adequate preparations because a neighbour’s flock is doing well. Poultry farming requires time and keen observation of the flock, and the owner has to be involved in the business. Those intending to invest in poultry farming should hire a person with interest in farming and maintain the highest level of record keeping. The hired person must record whatever is happening at the farm; also work out the security issue, for instance, the feeds, vaccines and eggs can be stolen by workers. Poor planning results in low quality products, poor marketing and inconsistent production. Farming should be practiced as a business. If you target 5,000 birds because resources are available, still start small at least with 500 birds for consistency in production. If they are layers, once they start laying, then it is time to stock another batch. Stocking in batches saves a farmer from suffering heavy losses in case of disease attacks.
Stocking many chicks than the house can accommodate will definitely adversely affect the end results. Interior space should be adequate: 10 broilers per square metre and 6-7 layers per square metre. The height of the house should be 9-10 feet (3 feet wall; 7 feet open vent). Inappropriate ventilation will affect the growth patterns of your birds.
Broilers: Broilers bring in quick returns as they are ready for sale at six weeks. The market for broilers (chicken meat) is also ever available notably in supermarkets, restaurants and hotels especially if you can supply on a consistent basis. There is also potential for export. From day one to three weeks, each chick will have consumed 1-1.5kgs of broiler start feeds. From four to seven weeks, each broiler will have consumed between 3-3.5kgs of broiler finisher. From week six when the birds weigh 2-2.4kgs, a farmer will start minting money. Other costs include brooding and vaccination expenses.
Layers: If you have money and looking for an investment avenue, then layers will make you smile all the way to the bank. However, you must be ready to inject in a lot more since they require huge start-up capital. Layers feed on chick and duck mash for the first two months and within this period, each bird will consume at least 2kgs. From two to five months, they feed on growers mash and within this period, a bird will consume at least 6kgs. From production (when they start laying) at 20 weeks onwards, they are fed on layers mash. Once production falls below 60 per cent egg production, a farmer is advised to dispose them off. Vaccination will include vaccines against diseases such as Newcastle, Infectious Brochitis, Gumboro, Fowl pox, Fowl typhoid—given at different intervals as directed by a professional extension/veterinary officer. On average, 500 birds will give you 14 trays per day for a period of 40 weeks. On average, well-looked-after layers will have a production capacity of 85 per cent, each bird will lay 300-320 eggs throughout the laying cycle.
The quality and the quantity of feeds and water, stocking density, the quantity of drinkers and feeders and disease control strategies will greatly affect the laying capacity of the flock. One drinker will cater for 50 birds while one feeder will cater for 25 birds. Drinkers and feeders vary in designs and so do the prices. Biosecurity measures (a set of measures designed to reduce disease incidence) for disease control are highly recommended, for example, clothes used in poultry farm should not leave that place.
Getting a good breed, sourcing quality feeds and the highest level of hygiene will keep your costs low. Medication always corrects mismanagement. On mixing own feeds, you must know what you are doing, you must pay particular attention to the purity of the materials you are putting together. If the formula does not add up, you must look at the costs involved in acquiring the materials including transport, the particle size may be bigger than your chicks and they end up blocking the digestive system and you lose out. Farmers are advised to at least use factory feeds for the first four weeks.
Poultry farmers globally are facing a major challenge; drug use and abuse, which is dangerous to human health. Farmers tend to avoid cheaper preventive measures and opt for curative measures. Farmers are failing with basic management (like vaccination, biosecurity etc) and end up using a lot of drugs which puts human health at greater risk. Drugs used for treating birds make human beings become resistant to drugs because of animal drug residues in their bodies
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