Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Supporting Farmers

Poultry production systems

5 min read

Family poultry are kept under a wide range of conditions, which can be classified into one of four broad production systems (Bessei, 1987):
x free-range extensive;
x backyard extensive;
x semi-intensive; and
x intensive. Indicative production
Free-Range Extensive Systems
In Africa, Asia and Latin America, 80 percent of farmers keep poultry in the first two extensive systems. Under free-range conditions, the birds are not confined and can scavenge for food over a wide area. Rudimentary shelters may be provided, and these may or may not be used. The birds may roost outside, usually in trees, and nest in the bush. The flock contains birds of different species and varying ages.
Backyard Extensive Systems
Poultry are housed at night but allowed free-range during the day. They are usually fed a handful of grain in the morning and evening to supplement scavenging.
Semi-Intensive Systems
These are a combination of the extensive and intensive systems where birds are confined to a certain area with access to shelter. They are commonly found in urban and peri-urban as well as rural situations. In the “run” system, the birds are confined in an enclosed area outside during the day and housed at night. Feed and water are available in the house to avoid wastage by rain, wind and wild animals. In the European system of free-range poultry keeping, there are two other types of housing. The first of these is the “ark” system, where the poultry are confined overnight (for security against predators) in a building mounted on two rails or skids (usually wooden), which enable it to be moved from place to place with draught power. A typical size is 2 × 2.5 m to hold about 40 birds. The second type of housing is the “fold” unit, with a space allowance (stock density) for adult birds of typically 3 to 4 birds per square metre (birds/m2 ), both inside and (at least this) outside. The fold unit is usually small enough to be moved by one person. Neither of these two systems is commonly found in developing countries.
 
Intensive Systems
These systems are used by medium to large-scale commercial enterprises, and are also used at the household level. Birds are fully confined either in houses or cages. Capital outlay is higher and the birds are totally dependent on their owners for all their requirements; production however is higher. There are three types of intensive systems: x Deep litter system: birds are fully confined (with floor space allowance of 3 to 4 birds/m2 within a house, but can move around freely. The floor is covered with a deep litter (a 5 to 10 cm deep layer) of grain husks (maize or rice), straw, wood shavings or a similarly absorbent (but non-toxic) material. The fully enclosed system protects the birds from thieves and predators and is suitable for specially selected commercial breeds of egg or meatproducing poultry (layers, breeder flocks and broilers). x Slatted floor system: wire or wooden slatted floors are used instead of deep litter, which allow stocking rates to be increased to five birds/m2 of floor space. Birds have reduced contact with faeces and are allowed some freedom of movement. x Battery cage system: this is usually used for laying birds, which are kept throughout their productive life in cages. There is a high initial capital investment, and the system is mostly confined to large-scale commercial egg layer operations. Intensive systems of rearing indigenous chickens commercially is uncommon, a notable rare exception being in Malaysia, where the industry developed in response to the heavy demand for indigenous chickens in urban areas (Supramaniam, 1988). However, this accounts for only two in every 100 000 (0.002 percent) of that country’s indigenous chicken.
Conclusions
Over the last decade, the consumption of poultry products in developing countries has grown by 5.8 percent per annum, faster than that of human population growth, and has created a great increase in demand. Family poultry has the potential to satisfy at least part of this demand through increased productivity and reduced wastage and losses, yet still represent essentially low-input production systems. If production from family poultry is to remain sustainable, it must continue to emphasize the use of family labour, adapted breeds and better management of stock health and local feed resources. This does not exclude the introduction of appropriate new technologies, which need not be sophisticated. However, technologies involving substantially increased inputs, particularly if they are expensive (such as imported concentrate feeds or genetic material) should be avoided. This is not to say that such technologies do not have a place in the large-scale commercial sector, where their use is largely determined by economic considerations. Development initiatives in the past have emphasized genetic improvement, usually through the introduction of exotic genes, arguing that improved feed would have no effect on indigenous birds of low genetic potential. There is a growing awareness of the need to balance the rate of genetic improvement with improvement in feed availability, health care and management. There is also an increased recognition of the potential of indigenous breeds and their role in converting locally available feed resources into sustainable production. This manual aims to provide those involved with poultry development in developing countries with a practical guide and insight into the potential of family poultry to improve rural livelihoods and to meet the increasing demand for poultry products.

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