The basics of poultry farming

25 November 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

The right environment and prudent management are necessary preconditions for farming successfully with poultry.

Agribank’s technical advisor for crops and poultry, Hanks Saisai, said farmers who intend to attain success and thrive in their farming journey always ensure that they take into consideration the necessary basic steps in poultry farming.

Poultry production is a farming enterprise that involves the rearing of various birds such as chickens, ducks, geese or even turkeys, with the aim of producing eggs and meat products that provide a source of high-quality protein.

Saisai said when one ventures into poultry production, there are key factors to consider.

For chickens, he said a farmer firstly has to decide whether they are keeping them for consumption or for business purposes.

“If you keep chickens for business, it is advisable to conduct thorough market research that will enable proper planning and identification of a niche market for your products.”

One may opt to keep broilers (meat producing chickens), layers (egg producing chickens) or dual-purpose chickens and therefore farmers are advised to choose their enterprise of preference, he said.

“After deciding on the type of chickens to keep, it is the farmer’s responsibility to understand the production cycle of the specific chickens.”

Production cycle

According to Saisai, broilers can usually have a production cycle of 42 days, and during this cycle, the farmer buys day-old chicks from a reputable supplier.

“It is a farmer’s responsibility to ensure that the day-old chicks are fully vaccinated against common poultry diseases such as Newcastle Disease, Infectious Bronchitis, and others.”

He said an additional factor to consider is brooding, which entails the artificial provision of heat using infrared bulbs to keep chicks warm. During summer, brooding must take place from day one until the chicks are 14 days old and during winter, brooding should last at least 21 days.

He added that housing is another crucial consideration to farm profitably and sustainably with chickens. Chickens must be accommodated in a well-ventilated chicken coop that provides protection from weather elements. Moreover, the correct stocking density should be maintained.

“For a placement house in which day-old chicks are kept until they are 14 days during summer or 21 days during winter, the recommended stocking density is about 55 chicks per square meter.”

On the other hand, for mature chickens in coops that have no cooling or heating mechanisms, a recommended stocking density of 10 chickens per square meter is advised, Saisai said.

Moreover, feeding, and drinking containers must be sufficient in the coop and must be able to accommodate the number of chickens without causing pressure and stress.

Nutritional needs

Saisai added that the farmer must consider the dietary requirements for efficient production.

“Commercial breeds such as broilers and layers thrive when they are fed the right amount and type of feed that responds to their nutritional needs at various growth stages.”

When keeping broilers, they need to be fed with commercially formulated rations, he said.

“It is crucial to always understand the vital building blocks of your agricultural enterprise of choice - whether be it poultry, crop or livestock - before you undertake such a business.”

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