Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Supporting Farmers

How to plan your flock production and size

3 min read

Image result for chicken nesting
Production involves birds for meat and eggs. For both meat and egg production, the number of chickens in the flock is the most important factor.
Flock size changes constantly as eggs hatch and hens are sold or eaten. Usually the main cause of flock depletion is mortality, particularly in chicks.
Disease is the greatest cause of mortality, especially in the rainy season and in the weather changeable humid periods on either side. During summer and the rainy season, predators in the cropped fields also contribute to reduced flock sizes.
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Egg production
Local birds lay an average of three to four clutches of 12 to 15 eggs in a year, with more eggs laid at crop harvest time because more feed is available. Given most traditional farming systems, keeping the flock number constant requires eight to ten eggs for reproduction, leaving an average of 35 to 40 eggs per layer for sale or consumption. Because the number of eggs needed for replacement may decrease with better management, the extra eggs can be sold or eaten.
Most egg laying takes place between sunrises to mid-morning. During the months of laying, nest location should not be moved, as this may upset the laying routine.
In village flocks, income derives from the sale of eggs and live birds. For example, a flock of 15 local hens laying 30 eggs/hen/year (with one local cock) will produce 450 eggs in a year.
Of these 450 eggs, 120 may be incubated by broody hens (in ten clutches of 12 eggs each), of which 100 chicks may hatch, and 30 eggs may be cracked and consumed in the household, leaving a balance of 300 eggs for sale. Of the 100 day-old chicks, 30 may reach maturity (with rearing losses of 70 percent), to yield 15 cockerels and 15 pullets. The 15 pullets will replace the older hens, of which ten remain after the sale of cull hens, and one new cockerel will replace the old cock. The annual income from the flock can therefore be calculated as follows:
300 eggs + 10 old hens + 1 old cock + 14 cockerels = income
For improved productivity, culling is important and productive birds should be carefully selected. For simplicity, the above example assumes no adult mortality.
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