Getting started in poultry farming
Poultry keeping has been for a long time the source of livelihood for many people in developing countries. Many farmers besides other livestock will always keep a few birds, be it chicken, pigeons, ducks, turkeys among other domestic birds. For many people, Small-scale poultry farming is aimed at providing meat and eggs. Poultry meat and eggs are highly valued in these countries because of their high-quality proteins. Whereas many would consider poultry farming as a mere supplementary source of revenue, this farming activity has been heavily modernized in the recent past both in developed and developing countries. Many people are now venturing into poultry farming. There are a number of factors to consider before venturing into poultry farming. Among other factors, poultry housing is one of the most important considerations for a successful poultry farmer.
What do I consider when constructing my poultry coop/ house?
- should be rainproof
- should be secure from windy rains
- should have smooth surface walls to stop mites and other pests from hiding in such places
- Periodically spraying the poultry unit with insecticide and disinfectants.
- Removing the dropping/cleaning the poultry house regularly
- Have good ventilation.
- Preferably have cemented floor for ease of cleaning and disinfecting.
- Be rodent/rat-proof
- Using plenty of litter after cleaning the poultry house
- Keeping the right number of birds in poultry houses
What to note:
- Ventilation – Good ventilation helps prevent smothering. Chicken require more fresh air per unit body weight than most of the farm animals.
- Moisture control – Chickens require a lot of water every day and more so the layers. Due to high water intake chickens may produce wet droppings. The housing should thus have proper drainage.
- Space – overcrowded chickens are unproductive and susceptible to diseases. Proper spacing should always be observed.
- Floor – a concrete floor is ideal for a poultry house. Such a floor will be easy to clean and at the same time ensuring good drainage especially for farmers practising cage poultry system.
What are the different poultry production systems available?
- Extensive/free range – this is the oldest form of keeping chickens. Birds are left to wander all over the place looking for food. The farmer basically provides the birds with the shelter at night. In most cases, chickens are not provided with feeds nor medical attention. This type of farming method is suited for subsistence farming. Small-scale farmers prefer this method because of the low capital requirement.
- Semi-intensive – Poultry farming method in which a farmer provides the birds with housing, nests, feed, and medicine. The birds are allowed to walk freely within a controlled area. This system is better than the free-range approach and thus the farmer can realize better returns. Most farmers in developing countries prefer this method of farming.
- Intensive – This is a production system whereby you keep the chicken inside a chicken house and provide them with housing, feeds and medicine. This method is adopted by individuals who want to commercialize poultry farming.
Which system is good for me?
The system to be adopted will depend on;
- Capital availability – how much many do you have?
- Available space – can your space allow for free range or limits you to semi-intensive?
- Your goal – do you want chicken for meat or eggs? Is poultry a pass time active or serious investment for me?
- Knowledge/experience – how much do you know about poultry keeping/ how ready are you to learn and implement the different techniques required in poultry keeping?
Which breed of chicken should I go for?
Before settling on a particular breed, there are a number of questions that you need to answer. First, what is the objective of venturing into poultry farming? How big am I ready to invest? How much do I know about the breed? Which market are you targeting? These are some of the keys questions that one needs to answer before deciding on which breed to keep. If you are targeting the meat industry, then it goes without saying that broiler breeds will be in your pool of selection. For those thinking to specialize in eggs; it will only be logical to consult for breeds known for high egg productivity. Kenya is home to many breeds of chickens and therefore one needs to carry out proper research and consultation before settling on particular. Many farmers have been left disappointed and even in some cases counting losses after investing in the wrong breeds. Improved Kienyeji breeds, namely Rainbow Roster, Kari, Kenbro and Kuroiler have however dominated the Kenyan market because they have proved their high productivity in both meat and egg production. On average these breeds have a maturity period of 5 to 6 months
How much money do I need to start poultry farming?
This is the most asked question by those eyeing poultry farming business. Many people want to know how much capital to look for people before starting their dream poultry farm. Poultry farming can either be a money-siphoning venture and start-small venture depending on how you look at it. There are many successful poultry farmers out there who started with a dozen birds but are now running chains of poultry farms. There is no dream too big to be actualized. As long as there is will, there will be a way. By this, I mean inadequacy of capital should not be a reason as to why someone cannot start poultry farming. If you have ‘too little’ cash to start chicken farming, just know that you only need few coins to buy some chicks then you are more than set to go! Start small and swim your way to the deep waters as long as you are consistent and focused on the main goal. However, if the monies are available, why not start the business with a bang!? Use what you have to start the business. Period. A journey of thousand miles starts with one step, or so they say.