Production Practices for Poultry Operations

There are three primary farming enterprises. These are breeding and hatchery operations, commercial egg production and broiler production. Other enterprises that provide supportive services are specialised breeding farms for production of pure lines, grandparent and parent
stock, feed milling and processing and marketing of poultry products.

In addition products and services are also closely associated with the primary enterprises.

1. Breeding and Hatching of Commercial Day Old Chicks

This enterprise involves the rearing of parent stock hens and cocks in the correct ratio to produce fertile eggs, which are then hatched with the use of incubators and hatchers.

The chicks so hatched are then sold out to poultry producers who are engaged in the production of table eggs or commercial broilers.

The primary products of this enterprise are day-old chicks. Eggs that are not good for hatching and the old hens and cocks are secondary products. Breeder’s flocks may be egg types or broilers.

Table Egg Production: For table egg product, pullets are purchased from a hatchery and these are then brooded and reared to the age of about five months before they begin laying eggs.

The chicks purchased must have been separated (sexed) into male and females prior to sale. The primary products of this enterprise are eggs, which are sold for consumption. The hens are sold out as spent hens at the end of their laying cycle, which is usually about one year.

Broiler Production: broiler production has the fastest rate of return of all the poultry enterprises. Commercial day old broiler chicks are purchased from the hatchery and reared to market between seven to ten weeks old, when they should be ready for market between 1.6 – 2kg
each. The broilers may be sold live or processed (fresh or frozen).

Integration Projects: The three primary enterprises are often integrated on large-scale farms. Integration often includes feed milling and product processing as well as other ancillary enterprises.

The major advantage of such integrated projects is the reliability of sources and supply of primary inputs. It also promotes the enforcement of quality control measures in the production of feed and poultry products.

Feed Milling: Because feed accounted for between 60 – 80% of the cost of producing meat and eggs and the crucial need for quality controls, most large-scale poultry producers often make their own feed. Feed milling involves the procurement of ingredients needed to produce feed, grinding, mixing and enclosing in bags.

Line Breeding and Grandparent Stock Production: The production of pure lines and the different types of parent stocks are highly specialised fields of poultry production that rely on the expertise of well trained and tested poultry breeders.

It is extremely critical since in the long run commercial egg and broiler production would phase out if such breeding work is not maintained. Furthermore, it is at that level that the initial selection and breeding for desirable economic traits occurs.

2. Brooding Management

Brooding is the art of caring for young chicks after hatching. It involves the provision of those factors that are necessary for the survival and rapid growth of the chick. Such factors include heat, light, humidity, ventilation, feed, water and disease control.

In Nigeria and indeed most tropical countries, humidity and ventilation can be taken care of by means of properly designed housing, but heat light, feed and water have to be provided as necessary.

During the first few weeks of the bird’s life (between 0 – 6 weeks) it is usually necessary to provide supplementary heat to keep the birds comfortable. This period is referred to as the brooding period. Basically there are two methods of brooding:

1. Natural Brooding: This is the method whereby a broody hen takes care of the chicks she hatches, although she can also be made to adopt purchased day-old chicks. The local fowls are suitable for this purpose and some Rhode Island Red birds may occasionally be reliable.

A good-sized broody hen can be given as many as 12 chicks in cool weather and up to 15 in the hot season. Natural brooding is only practiced when small numbers of chicks are reared. It is quite unsuitable for a commercial scale operation.

2. Artificial Brooding: This is brooding without the mother hen. It necessitates the use of equipment which provides conditions similar to those of the broody hen, such as adequate warmth, protection against harsh weather and predators.

It also makes for proper feeding, watering and disease control. Artificial brooding is the best method for the commercial producer. It is advisable for the beginning poultry man to try his luck at brooding a small number of chicks. If he is successful, i.e. with less than four per cent mortality up to eight weeks of age then he can go on to brood larger numbers.

Read Also: Principles of Poultry Production and Types or Stains of Poultry

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Writer (With over 12 years of professional experience in the agricultural industry) - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: Agric4profits.com - It's All About Agriculture, The Way Forward! Agric4profit.com - The Most Reliable Global Agricultural Forum! Agric4profit.com.ng - The Most Reliable Nigeria's Agricultural Job Board! TheAgriPedia.com - For Everything Premium Agriculture! WealthinWastes.com - For Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices. Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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