Thursday, July 18, 2024

Production and Management Issues Relating to Poultry Meat and Eggs

Poultry meat and egg for human consumption are the two reasons for raising broilers and pullet chicks. It has generally been agreed that poultry is a sub-sector in the livestock industry necessary to bridge the gap between demand and supply of animal protein within the shortest possible time.

However, the skill of the poultry farmer in raising these poultry species is vital to an efficient and profitable enterprise. A result-oriented poultry enterprise requires good poultry management which involves a good knowledge of feeding, housing, diseases, record keeping, breeds and breeding, vaccination, use of medication, and the implication of natural and artificial lights on birds. This shows that it takes a lot of technical know-how in many different fields.

Laying Birds

A laying hen will produce eggs for a number of years, but it is only economical to keep the layers up to 18 months i.e. after one year in lay; the adult fowl is either a layer or a breeder. The latter comprises males and females for producing fertile eggs.

Egg production strains are usually separated into males and females one day old before the sale. Be sure to place an order for only the females of these types of birds. Their male counterparts are called cockerels and they grow slowly and may not be economical to keep for meat production.

If part of the table egg production objective is to hatch eggs from the flock, then the farmer may request for not more than 10% of these egg production type birds as males.

The level of performance of the layer under optimum feeding and management depends largely on the genetic capability of the birds and their health status at hatching time. The producer must then exercise caution to buy only breeds that have been known to do well in his environment and also to purchase them from a reliable hatchery.

There is no perfect breed of chickens. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. A poultry farmer then settles for the breed that will give him the greatest number of desirable characteristics that he wants with less undesirable characteristics.

Breeds that are prevalent under tropical conditions are the Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, Plymouth Rock, and Australorp. These are heavy breeds. Among the light breeds, the most popular is the white leghorn, which is known to be heat-tolerant. The Rhode Island Red is one breed that has been developed as a dual-purpose bird.

Indices for Evaluating the Performance of the Layer

These indices are:

Egg Production or Number of Eggs Laid: This is the major index of performance of the commercial layer. It accounts for about 90% of the income in egg production. The egg production cycle shows that the maximum number of eggs that a fowl can produce in its first year in lay (i.e pullet year) is about 300 eggs.

It is not common for birds to attain and they rarely exceed this level. The rate of egg production in the first stage is often expressed as:

Hen-day egg production = Average daily egg production x 100

Average daily number of birds alive


Hen-housed egg production = Average daily egg production x 100

No. of birds housed at the start of lay

In commercial enterprises, hen-housed egg production is more commonly used.

Egg size: This is an egg quality parameter. It varies with the age and strain of birds. Average egg size increases from about 36gms at point of lay (about 24 weeks of age) to about 58gms at 42 weeks of age.

Egg size appears to increase throughout the pullet years. Eggs are heavier in temperate regions. The following factors have a negative effect on egg size:

  1. Unbalanced state or badly mixed feed
  2. Feed restriction
  3. Lack of clean, cool fresh water
  4. Rations containing less than 15% protein
  5. High laying house temperature
  6. Disease
  7. Early maturity of fowl
  8. Age of birds (this is just before birds stop laying).

Egg Shell Thickness: This is another egg quality parameter of economic importance. The average shell thickness of the fowl is about 0.34mm. The thinner the shell, the higher the percentage of cracks which will lower revenue.

Read More: Fungal Diseases of Poultry: Symptoms, Control, and Treatments

Shell Colour: Though this is not of any nutritional importance, brown-shelled eggs are normally preferred by consumers.

Yolk Colour: This is also not of any nutritional value. However, the bright or deep yellow yolk is preferred to white.

Feed Efficiency: This is a measure of how efficiently a given feed is being converted into products. The better the quality of the feed, the better its rate of conversion into eggs.

Feed efficiency = Feed consumed

Kg of eggs produced

Mortality: It is expressed as:

Mortality = No. of birds dead x 100

No. of birds started.

For laying birds the mortality rate should be about 10% throughout the laying period. An increase in mortality may be an indication of a disease outbreak. The services of a veterinarian may be needed.

Egg Producing Cycle

Production and Management Issues Relating to Poultry Meat and Eggs

The age at the point of lay (POL) is between 22-24 weeks of age depending on the breed. Light breeds begin to lay first. The end of lay (EOL) is a year or two after the point of lay. However, layers are culled after one year in lay i.e. at 18 months of age. When egg production starts, it reaches a peak (about 80%) at about 42 weeks of age.

This marks the end of the first phase of the pullet year laying cycle and the start of the second phase (43-62 weeks of age) during which there is a gradual fall in production to about 65%.

After this, the pullet enters into the third phase of its first year in lay which is up to 72 weeks. This phase terminates with the molting of the fowl. Egg production becomes practically nil.

Read Also: How Family Farming Can Yield Global Food Sufficiency


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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