Acquiring a basic knowledge about poultry and the experience in actual raising can equip you to start a small poultry business.
Poultry refers to birds, domesticated and raised to provide meat and eggs for food. Chickens are the most common kind of poultry raised throughout the world. They are also the most popular and easy to raise. Acquiring a basic knowledge about poultry and the experience in actual raising can equip you to start a small poultry business.
Considerations in Poultry Raising
Having a capital is not enough to start poultry raising. It is not also an assurance that this venture is going to be successful. There are some factors to consider. They are the following,
- Technical know-how. This means you have to study about chickens- their needs and peculiarities, their food, housing, control of pests and diseases, and how to take care of them at different stages of growth.
- Market. Since poultry is a perishable commodity, you must have a ready market where to sell the eggs in a number of days as they cannot be stored for a long time. Broilers must be sold once they reach the age of 7 to 8 weeks. When they are not sold at this age and are continuously fed, there is less profit in return because they grow less while they eat much at an older age.
- Availability of stocks, feed and other supplies. Poultry raising is a continuous activity. There must be available feeds for continuous feeding, available stocks to replace those sold in the market, and available supplies like vaccinations, medicines, water, and equipment needed for continuous care and management.
Pointers to Consider in Raising Chickens
- Buy high-quality chicks from authorized companies or dealers. Female chicken raised to produced eggs are called laying hens. Chicken raised for their meat are called broilers or fryers. For broiler production the Cornish is the most popular breed. They are bred to females of White Rock, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island Red. For egg production, the Leghorn is the most popular. These chickens are relatively small but they lay relatively large eggs. They are fed less so there is savings in feed cost. Other breeds include New Hampshire and Rhode Island Red.
- Provide for a variety of food such as green leaves, banana skins, corn and rice. Feed them 3 to 4 times a day. Fill-up the feeders to about 1/3 full every feeding time to avoid spilling and overfeeding. Give them continuous supply of drinking water mixed with antibiotic to protect them from diseases. Today, manufactured feeds contain adequate nutrients required for growth, body maintenance, and production. These nutrients include energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Manufactured feeds are available in three forms. They are (a) starter or starting mash for baby chicks until about one month old, (b) grower or growing mash for broilers and pullets, and (c) laying mash for hens to increase egg production. Buy the mash that is appropriate for your chickens.
- House them in well-ventilated space situated away from populous area. The house should be constructed according to the needs of the birds to be housed. There are three types of poultry houses,
- Brooder House. This houses young chickens from one day old to about 4 weeks old. This house is provided with light for additional heat because the temperature-regulating mechanism of the chickens is not ready until the 4th week of life.
- Grower House. This houses the chicken after the brooding period. The broilers are raised in this house until the 7th to 8th week, the time they are ready to be sold. The layers are also reared here until they are ready to lay eggs.
- Layer house. This houses the hens that lay eggs. The practice in housing is to put the hens in cages. Caging saves space, prevents cannibalism, and facilitates detection of hens that do not lay eggs. The layer house is different from other houses because a fixtures is constructed where eggs can be laid and collected. All poultry houses have elevated slat-floor, and litter floor. Litter floors consist of rice hulls, wood shavings, or peanut hulls on the ground to a depth of 2-4 inches. The elevated floors are usually made of welded wire mesh. The elevated floors can be single elevation, double elevation, or multi-decked. The advantage of elevating the floors is that there is better ventilation and one can do easier cleaning and disinfecting of the house easier. Other structures found in the house include feeders and waterers where food and water is placed. They are made either of cans of galvanized iron or plastic moulds.
- Dropping board. These are placed between ties of the double-decked or multi-decked houses. They are receptacles for chicken droppings. They are either fixed or removable.
- Artificial brooders. These are used to provide heat to young chicks in the brooder house. They can be made of electric or gas hovers with thermostats or kerosene lamp and electric bulbs. The recommended brooding temperature is 32.2 – 35 degrees C for 0-1 week olds, 29.4 – 32.4 degrees C for 1-2 weeks old, and 26.7 – 29.4 degrees C for 2-4 weeks old.
- Give them food supplement, especially when the chickens are not growing fast. At this condition, they become susceptible to malnutrition. For supplementation, you can buy feed fortifiers from feed manufacturers. These fortifiers are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. Mix these with the food given to them everyday to enhance the nutritive quality of the feeds.
- Diseases and parasites are among the causes of mortality. This is brought about by overcrowding, overeating, chilling and frightening of chicks. Take necessary precautions agonists these disturbances.
- Give vaccination for common infections diseases. Routine vaccination for common infectious diseases like Neucastle disease, Fowl Pox and Mack’s disease is one of the most effective and practical methods of preventing outbreaks of disease. Vaccination must be done on time. Consult experts on the schedule for vaccinations.