Depending on the location of the farm dwelling, birds and eggs are sold from the household to traders (dealers or middlemen), direct to consumers, or carried by the farmer to the local market.
The role of traders in the marketing of poultry products is an important one. Traders from urban areas buy eggs in villages to sell in cities. Where transport is an important consideration (as in many parts of Africa), guinea fowl eggs, with their stronger shells, are preferred to chicken eggs.
Prices of eggs are related to supply and demand, to the higher risk of spoilage and lower use for hatching in hot and humid seasons, and to the availability of alternative protein foods such as fish.
There is a tendency to hatch less in the hot season, due to low hatchability and diseases of young chickens, and there is also less hatching in the cold season, due to the risk of chilling stress to the young chicks.
Birds are either brought to the local market once or twice a week for sale to local consumers, to other local markets, or to local traders. Chickens are transported to the market in open-weave (well ventilated) baskets or wooden crates.
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They need not be fed on the day of sale, but should receive drinking water. If the trip to the market takes eight hours or more, stops should be made to supply water to the birds. In hot seasons, it is better to transport birds at night or in the cooler early morning. While the price of live birds depends on their size, the price of eggs depends more on number.
It is often assumed that for poultry and eggs, producers get 60 to 65 percent of the market price but this has been found to be false in Bangladesh, where they receive less than this.
The role of traders or hawkers is very important, as it makes selling from the house possible, but these traders take up to 35 percent of the market value, with a consequent lower profit for the farmers who are responsible for production. This loss of income has stimulated farmers in many places to organize sales through their own marketing groups or formal cooperatives.
The local channel begins with the producer selling poultry products to retailers who serve the needs of local consumers. In most areas, local consumers also buy directly from producers.
The other marketing channel involves wholesalers. They buy poultry products directly from producers and sell to retailers inside and outside the State, and are based in urban centres where urban-based consumers are located.
Marketing channels for family poultry often cross international boundaries and can generate significant foreign exchange for the producing countries
Forming a marketing plan means identifying where and when birds and eggs will be sold to receive the best possible prices.
Putting large numbers of birds up for sale in a small community may depress the price.
Even the sale of small numbers of intensively managed layers needs advance planning. A flock of 20 hens may produce 1 200 eggs in a year, even at the low production rate of 35 percent.
The plans of other farmers must also be considered. If they all expand their flocks and have good years, prices will almost inevitably fall.
Seasonal considerations enter into market plans as well. In India for instance, eggs are thought of as a heat-producing food and are eaten in the cool, rainy season.
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