Ever thought of venturing into layers farming and didn’t know how?
In the past few weeks I have received several requests from farmers asking question on the basics of cages system in layers(poultry ) farming.
Today you and I will be going through the guide and basics of starting a successful poultry farm with the use of cages.
Poultry farming is one of the less low labor intensive and high returns farming venture.
Production can be done in any part of the country even on very small spaces.
I know of a nurse who works full time has a family and a very successful poultry farmer without land or a chicken house.
The guy has achieved what many people with huge spaces have not and he is proud.
He lives in a small two bedroomed house with his family but keeps a flock of over twenty birds in the same house.
Well you might be concerned about the mess from the birds. I was surprised at how clean the house is.
There is actually no evidence of the birds spending the night in the house, but they do. He keeps his flock in used cardboard boxes for the night.
If a nurse can do that in a busy lifestyle and with no extra land what are you waiting for?
Remember his birds are the local breed and he keeps them using the free range system. He offers them supplementary feeds in the evening and morning.
The best way to ensure good production is to purchase day old chicks from a reputable source like Wendy farms or KALRO. This not only helps in the monitoring of your flock but also having a good parent flock.
Rear the chicks on the ground (not in the cages) and when fully grown transfer them into cages at the age when they are about to start laying.
You need to keep the layer hens in the cage system for a period of 90 weeks .This is about the age when most of the adult birds in the flock stop laying eggs and the right weigh for the market.
The chicken are ready to start laying in 5-6 months counted from the time they are day olds.
If well maintained your hens can produce for an approximated period of not less than 80 weeks with each hen laying a single egg each day.
Egg production reduces as the hens get older.
You should sell off the hens that are out of lay as soon as they stop producing.
This ensures you don’t incur additional costs by feeding them and helps in increasing your profit margins.
The chicken stop laying after a period of about a year of effective production.
I would recommend that as a layers chicken farmer, you to attend various trainings and events.
You should prioritize those that deal in rearing of layers as a way to boost your production, increase the farms earnings and development purposes.
You and I are fully aware of the intentions of investing in the egg production business.
Success is not guaranteed, for a better chance you should follow this guidelines.
It is good to follow the set principles in the production of eggs and the wellbeing of the layers.
- Choose good chicks
- Good feed
- Management to avoid diseases
- Clean chicken house
- Good record keeping
Just like human beings, if the hens are well fed on a balanced diet they not only grow well but their eggs are of a higher quality too.
Depending on the age of the chicken ensure you provide the best feeds and clean water sufficient for each bird.
Layers are fed different feeds starter, gro mwers and layers mash depending on their ages.
Are you producing your own starter feed for your chicks?
I would recommend a mixture of a commercial starter feed with the following:
- Omena and other insects (good sources of protein)
When to cage the birds
I would recommend you introduce the flock into the cages when they are 12 weeks old (3 months of age).
You have to introduce them at this age because if introduced any earlier you have to deal with birds that are always out of their housing units.
At 3 months or 12 weeks they are large enough to fit in the cages without walking out at will.
Introducing the birds at three months of age also ensures they get used to the environment earlier enough before they start laying.
After getting to know where to source for water and feeds the chicken will comfortably start laying at the age of 16-18 weeks.
Make sure they are stress free and comfortable before the laying period starts.
If not there is 90% chance most of the flock will not produce leading to delays and low profit margins.
advantages of cage system
- Easy cleaning
- More chicken in a small area
- Good hygiene
- Easy to maintain
- Easy manure collection
Factors to consider in your poultry cages
The below factors can are some of the guidelines to ensure your farm achieves its target.
- Introduction of chicks without preparation (Be well prepared when the time comes to cage the birds)
- Feeding without ensuring values (The chicken just like human beings must be feed on a balanced diet and clean water provided at all time)
- Administering medication to unrelated infections (Talk to you vet officer before administering any medication. Treating the wrong disease can lead to the death of the birds or the chicken developing a resistance to the drug you are administering)
- Not all experienced farmers are vet officers but all vet officers are experienced. (Talking to fellow farmers is good but ensure you take action only if the vet officer says so)
- Look for market for your eggs (Like all agriculture ventures, you need to find a market for your produce .This makes you aware of what demand are you meeting during production)
- Talk to experts(Keeping close tabs with experts help you navigate through the challenges in layers farming)
- Visit your farm regularly (Don’t be a telephone farmer, you need to b hands on. Being hands on helps you understand clearly what happens on the farm)
Poultry farming is an alternative production source that would have been rather imported from the neighboring countries.
Through poultry farming farmers can ensure the food supply of the country is well taken care off.
The entire country can save more from feeding itself. The government can reallocate funds that would have been used in importing of chicken products.
There is huge demands in the country for protein products that even the Chinese are selling fish to the entire East Africa region.
Many youth in Kenya find it difficult to get jobs even after completing several degrees.
Poultry farming is a major source of job creation, income generation, food and fertilizer supply.
The venture also acts as a live bank. Since the animals can be sold off at any given point to generate income in case of emergencies.
Layers farming is a good business venture because of the increase in demand of egg and chicken products in most areas within the country.
Many people in the region consume eggs especially during breakfast and other meals during the course of the day.
For the above benefits the human race cannot escape agriculture and I would like to urge you to venture into agribusiness and not agriculture.
Agriculture is one of the leading avenues for the government to earn foreign exchange as well as earn through taxes locally.
It also improves the spending ability of the individual and families leading to economic development of the nation.
Estimated production costs for a 500 bird cage system
The production estimates are for a for 500 chicken farm with a production time frame of 30-80 weeks
Estimated profit is at least Kenya shillings 400,000
Remember the costs may vary depending on the location of your farm.
Poultry farming is one of the most lucrative agribusiness ventures that can ensure your dreams and that of your family come true.
Like everything in life it is full of challenges.
The worst part of it is, if one bird is sick you are at a high risk of losing the entire flock.
There is a 50% chance of survival and the more birds that die the higher the risk of all of them dying.
Apart from giving a balanced diet to the birds you have to ensure and maintain a very high level of hygiene in the house unit.
Also control human contact with the birds and their feed, where possible eliminate completely to prevent the spread of pathogen causing diseases.
Everyone that has access to the chicken house must practice high level of hygiene at all time.
Remember prevention is better than cure and keep the contacts of an extension or vet officer on your speed dial.
Having an agribusiness problem? Do you know of a successful agribusiness venture story and you want to share? I would like to hear from you. Send me the TIP(s) at firstname.lastname@example.org
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