Poultry farming is one of the best businesses to start for a new entrepreneur with small investment capital.
It has many risk-free factors like low investment, confined maintenance, low-cost labor requirement (non-technical), ability to enlarge progressively, long-term demand, etc.
It is also a good firm to provide jobs related to agriculture.
Poultry farming as everyone knows is where birds are nestled to collect eggs, meats, feathers, etc. for sale in the market. Poultry commonly includes the growing of hens or chicks.
More than 50 billion chicks are raised annually. Chicks raised for eggs are called layers. While those raised for meat are called broilers.
In an estimate U.K alone consumes over 23 million eggs per day.
According to the world watch institute, 74% of the world’s poultry meat, & 68% of eggs are produced in ways that are described as intensity one alternative to intensive poultry farming is free-range farming (fed outdoors).
The meatiest parts of a bird are the flight muscles on its chest, and the thigh respectively.
|Sl.No||Nutritional value||Per 100gm (3.5oz)|
|1||Energy||916 kj (219)|
|9||Vitamin A||44ug (6%)|
Feeding and feed conversion
Chickens eat less expensive foods like vegetables, fruits, flowers, and grass, these are cheaper and readily available in the market.
They eat grains and seeds, so one needs to provide the right diet. With the increase in egg production, an increase in the nutritional requirement is seen.
Chickens should have access to the pellets all day long.
They should go to bed with full crops (crops means a pouch in the throat where the food is first stored after it is swallowed.
It takes over 25 hours to make one egg during the night as the egg is built from digesting food.
The feed must contain contains calcium.
A standard size hen will eat between 1/4 and 1/3 pounds of pellets a day if it’s the only food offered.
The next most essential thing to provide your flock is freshwater.
Even though it does seem as if chickens prefer muddy pools (rather like toddles in a rain puddle) always put clean water for them.
Put the water font up off the ground (a few bricks work for this) so that it stays clean.
Scrub the water font weekly twice.
In winter if you are located in an area with freezing temperature either use an electric heating stand under the water pot.
A chick without water will die within a day.
In summer we can put extra water pots out in a pen near the shady area where the hens like to hang out.
Feeding at Different Ages
Chickens at different stages of development need different feed formulations.
Commercially prepared rations are a nutritionally balanced food source poultry nutritionist formulated feed to ensure that chick gets all the nutrition they require daily.
Ration Formulation Reqirements
Availability of appropriate feed-stuffs.
Analysis of feed-stuffs composition.
Knowledge of the nutritional needs of chickens.
Ability to mix feed-in quantity your flocks will use within four weeks.
Starter Day Feed Day 1 to 8 weeks (chicks)
Through 8 weeks old requires starter feed containing 20% protein starter feed contains the higher % of protein a layer will ever consume, which makes sense given their astronomical growth rate in the first few months of life.
Starter feed can be purchased in both medicated and unmedicated forms.
The medicated feed contains amprolium, which protects chicks from coccidiosis, a common and deadly intestinal disease that is spread in fecal matter.
While starter feed is dissolved by the chick’s saliva and needs no other help being digested, treats must be accompanied with a hard material such as sand, dirt, (or) small stones that aid in digestion.
Since chicken has no teeth, food not broken down by saliva requires if necessary small stones, dirt are supplied in a separate hopper not mixed into feed.
Grower feed, 8 to 18 Weeks
With its higher protein content, this is the main peak period they develop their body into egg-laying before its ready it should be provided with grower ration containing 16-18 % protein when compared to the starter it is less.
Layer Feed 18 weeks and older
Layer feed contains 16-18% protein plus added calcium.
This is necessary for eggshells production laying hens can be feed layer ration as early as 18 weeks (or) as late as the arrival of their first egg.
While layer feed contains calcium, an additional source of calcium, such as crushed oyster shells (or) clean eggshells.
Hens deprived of adequate amounts of calcium will utilize the calcium stored within their bones to produce an egg.
Use of Roxarsone in Chicken Production
Roxarsone is a relatively benign organic arsenic compound that practically decomposes into inorganic arsenic compounds in the flesh of chickens and in their fees which are often used as fertilizer.
The compound is used to control stomach pathogens and promote growth.
The soybean dominates the protein supply for animal feed, and the poultry industry is the largest consumer of such feed.
2 kg of weight gain must be fed to poultry to produce 1kg of weight gain, much less than that required for pork (or) beef.
However for every gram of protein consumed, chickens yield only 0.33g of edible protein.
How to promote Egg Laying in Hens
Normally every living creature wants to exist the same as in chickens so build a chicken coop to protect chickens, if the chickens get scared (or) otherwise they will not lay an egg.
* Food and water play a vital role give them fresh water and food daily, and an unhealthy hen will have no energy (or) material to create an egg.
* Stress impacts everyone hence builds nesting boxes in the coop this will give them some privacy when they lay the eggs.
* Add wood serving (or) straw, grass in the boxes for the chickens to nest this will help to keep them.
* Comfortable and warm.
* place light.
* clean the coop at least once a month.
* if the shells are soft (or) brittle while transporting give them crushed oyster shells for calcium fixed in their feed, to get the eggshell to become harder. This prevents the breakage of eggs while transporting.
* gather the eggs daily.
Using hormones to boost egg production was a brief fad in the forties, but was abandoned because it didn’t work.
Using hormones to produce soft meted roasters lasted into the fifties, but the improved growth rates of healthy, untreated broilers made the practice irrelevant the broilers got as big as anyone wanted without chemicals.
Egg-Laying Chickens Husbandary System
Commercial hens usually begin laying eggs at 16-20 weeks of age, although production gradually declines soon after from approximately 25 weeks of age.
This means that in many countries by 72 weeks of age.
Flocks are considered economically nonviable & are slaughtered after about 12 months of egg production. They live for 6 to 9 years.
The majority of hens in many countries are reared in battery cages.
These are small cages of metal in modern systems, housing 3 to 6 hens, the walls are made of either solid metal, or mesh & the floor is slope wire mesh to allow the feces to drop through.
Eggs roll onto an egg collecting conveyor belt, and water is usually provided by an over-head nipple system and food in a trough alongside the front of the cage replenished at regular intervals.
Benefits of battery cages
- Ensures care for the birds, eggs that are expensive.
- Less feed is required to produce eggs.
- Internal parasites and predators are prevented from reaching the brids.
- The escape of birds is not avoided.
Factors affecting Egg production
The laying cycle of a chicken flock usually covers a span of about 12 months.
Egg production begins when the birds reach about 18-22 weeks of age, depending on the breed and season.
There are many factors that can adversely affect egg production.
Egg production can be affected by feed consumption ( quality and quantity), water light intensity and duration of light received, parasite infections, diseases, and numerous management and environmental factors.
Non-infectious causes of reduced egg production
- Salt- a Nervous flock, increased pecking in the digestive tract.
- Calcium-Birds down in cages, higher incidence of shell-less eggs.
- Vitamin D3-increased mortality from calcium depletion increased shell-less eggs.
- Protein-increased nervousness, increased mortality (peckouts), poor albumin quality, feather eating.
- Fat low body weight grains, drop in egg size.
Toxicoses (Poisoning condition)
- Salt: increased mortality due to urolithiasis, lowered feed intake.
- Phosphorus: lower feed intake, soft bones, thin shells, increased shell-less eggs.
- Vitamin D3- increased shell-less eggs soft bones.
- Mycotoxins-nervousness, mouth lesions, fatty livers, biliary hyperplasia in liver tissue, reduced feed intake, thin shell.
- Botulism- weakness, limp neck, neck feathers easy to pull out, prostration.
- Nicarbazin- shell-less eggs, loss of pigment of brown eggs, lowered hatch, of fertile eggs.
- Monensin- reduced feed consumption, birds lack coordination.
- Out of feed:- nervous flock, decreased feed consumption.
- Out of water:- blue combs, birds gathered around waters.
- Inadequate day length: – an unusual pattern of egg production.
- High ambient temperature: – reduced egg size, reduced feed consumption, increased water consumption, panting.
These are the small things that can be overcome easily.
The eggs are cleaned, and shells are checked for soundness before putting them in the incubators.
The incubators control temperature and humidity and the turn egg until they hatch once they hatch they are vaccinated, beak trimmed and toe-clipping of the toe ends.
This prevents them from harming each other.
- The eggs are placed in a large incubator.
- The eggs are kept warm and periodically rotated by a machine.
- They begin to hatch within 20 days shortly before hatching the eggs are transferred to the drawer.
- Many processes now inoculate chicks for disease in ova that is, in the shell before they hatch.
- This is usually done 3days before hatching. The chicks peck their way out of their shell.
- Moving eggs from production barn to collection points can be often tricky and must be well balanced.
- Before transporting, the eggs should be collected without breakage from the cages and then placed carefully in respective trays.
The eggs should be totally covered and then transported.
How to avoid breakage of eggs
1. Firstly, ensure proper training to workers on collection eggs from the cages, handling and preserving them.
2. After collection, eggs can be placed in a therma coal or any other smooth cartoon boxes.
3. Avoid pressure on eggs.
4. Place eggs on the tray individually such that the tray covers 3/4th of the eggs, and above the eggs place one more tray to ensure maximum protection.