Starting a poultry farm can be a daunting task for many newcomers into this business yet it is the most popular cottage farming practice that has been in existence since the First World War. Today, poultry farming is a huge business that is changing lives and providing families with stable income and cheap source of animal protein. Poultry farming is highly profitable, but only if it is managed properly from housing set up to depletion. Here are the initial financial facts you need to consider before venturing into poultry farming for egg production.
Cost of chicken house
The house should be open-sided to allow good ventilation and the perimeter wall should not be higher than three feet from the ground. The walls can be made of bricks, iron sheet or mud while the rest of the open space should be covered with wire mesh coupled with chicken wire to prevent wild birds’ entry. Floors can be cemented or just impacted. The ideal stocking density should be two square foot per bird for layers. It will cost you Sh250,000 for 1,000 layers, on iron sheets, stones, cement, sand, murram, round poles, kuku net and labour depending on the available materials. Currently day-old chicks go for between Sh125-135 per bird, so for startup of a 1,000 birds, this will cost you Sh135,000. Depending on the size of your market, one can start with 300-500 birds and scale up with time.
For you to achieve maximum profits in layer chicken farming, it is vital that the correct equipment is always used. Inferior, substandard, or improvised (basins and trays) will always result in variable performance and ultimately large financial loss. You will need four jikos, one chick tray/50 chicks, one manual drinker/50 chicks and one manual tube feeder/ 50 chicks. A jiko now goes for Sh1,500, tray Sh380, drinker Sh320 and a feeder Sh800 per piece, basic cost of equipment is estimated at Sh36,000/1,000 chicks.
The most important period in the life of a flock is the brooding stage. Chick’s bedding must be of good quality and well spread in the units. The units must be well heated to provide adequate warmth to these juvenile birds as soon as they are placed. Correct litter and temperature are vital to ensure the chicks are active and feeding in the first four weeks of life. You will need one bag of charcoal per 100 chicks and 30 bags of wood shaving for 1,000 birds. One bag of charcoal goes for Sh1,500 and a bag of shavings goes for Sh30. Total brooding costs is estimated at Sh15.9/chick for a period of four weeks. This can be reduced to two weeks of brooding if you are in a warmer environment.
Cost of vaccines and other medications
The birds should be adequately immunized and be provided with a good biosecurity program to guard them against wild birds, predators, rodents, and other parasites. The total cost of cleaning and disinfection together with vaccination and any other vitamin medications is estimated at Sh 25/bird until they are depleted.
Cost of feeding the birds to the point of lay
The feed cost accounts for 70 per cent of all the costs incurred in rearing these birds to point of egg production and must be judiciously monitored. On a guiding principle and for a good flock on good feed, between one to eight weeks of age, chick mash consumption should total 1.8kg/bird, grower mash at (9-18wks) total 5kg/bird and layer mash at (19-78wks) total 50kg/bird. Chick mash costs Sh90/kg while growers going for Sh 85/kg. Choose diets of good quality and which are appropriate to the breed and species of bird and the stage of growth or production. Feeding low-density or poor-quality feed will result in birds eating more feed or achieving low weights hence poor future egg production or delayed start of lay. Other cost includes electricity, water and labour which vary from place to place.
[The writer is head vet at Kenchic]