The word poultry can be defined as birds kept for production of meat, eggs and feathers. Poultry farming has gained popularity in recent years. This is because it is relatively easy to start and grow.
Starting has always been difficult for most people who desire to be farmers. Below is a guide with the basics of poultry farming and from there you will take that important decision to start your own farm.
Before starting any farming venture it is very important to know what you need to be aware of and to have in place before going on. This will instruct you to prepare a few things first before buying your stock. The following are basics of what you need to start a successful kienyeji poultry farm:
This refers to the chicken which will form your starting stock. You can choose from already egg laying chicken and cock. There are many breeds of indigenous poultry to choose from. You should buy your stock from a reliable source which observes vaccination protocols, deworming and parasite control. How many chickens to start with depends on your financial capability.
Housing chicken is key as it offers them protection against thieves, adverse weather, predators such as dogs, snakes, rats, hawks and mongoose, as well as shelter brooding hens and egg laying ones.
Appropriate houses aid in proper management and effective production. While constructing a poultry house consider prevailing weather, locally available materials and security.
The choice of the shelter should be informed by usage, cost and durability. When selecting where to locate the chicken house (site) consider the following, provide dry litter, avoid dark areas except for nesting boxes, flat and free draining area, windows for ventilation on either side, accessibility, quality of air (correct humidity, correct temperature, low levels of ammonia gas), East to West orientation to avoid excessive sunlight, provide perches and nest inside the house, laying nests should be in a quiet place, prevent injury to birds by removing sharp objects from the house, the house, nest and perches should be easy to clean and disinfect to kill parasites.
Feeding is crucial so as to maximize on the production of eggs and meat in indigenous chicken.
Lack of clean water or quality feed reduces the chickens’ resistance to diseases and parasites which leads to massive deaths. Chicken can really starve when left to scavenge. This, therefore, necessitates supplementary feeding.
Fast growth and high egg production are limited by the genetic potential of the chicken as well as the availability of good quality feeds. This is because production is a factor of genetics and environment. The environment basically refers to nutrition or feeding. On feeding, quality and quantity are key factors to consider. Quality refers to the composition of the feed.
For a feed to qualify to be of good quality it should be well constituted with; energy, proteins, mineral salts, trace elements and vitamins. Clean water is part of quality feeding. Quantity refers to the amounts of the above constituents in each of the portions of feed. Water should be availed at all times. Feed needs in chicken depend on age and status (chicken, grower, egg layer and broody hen). Feeds have different costs depending on their quality and also quantity. A farmer can consult a veterinarian to give them a special formula to prepare their own feed instead of buying ready-made feeds.
Pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can really frustrate a farmer due to their many harmful effects which include reduced growth rate, reduced production and death. Poultry remains healthy when well fed and managed and vaccinated again diseases. The most common causes of poultry diseases include; infections, parasites (internal and external), malnutrition, injuries and chemical such as salt poisoning. In case of a disease outbreak, sick birds should be well isolated and dead birds burnt and or buried.
The market for your eggs or meat should be available for you before you start rearing chickens. It is not economical to produce meat and eggs without knowing who you’ll sell to. You can be able to identify your niche market by doing research in an area that you are producing from or even far away. Once you have identified your market and how many kilos of meat or trays of eggs you can supply, then you can start producing them.