Before you even start setting up a layers’ chicken house, book the day-old chicks. Each costs between sh4,000 and sh5,500. This means that if you are stocking 1,000 layers will cost you sh4m to sh5.5m. A structure to house 1,000 birds will cost at least sh10m. Feeding them using money from other sources through four months requires at least sh10m. This means that you need at least sh26m to invest in 1,000 layers up to the time they start laying eggs from scratch. You will spend another sh69m to feed the layers through the 70 weeks laying period. However, through this period, eggs will give you at least sh130m.
In one circular brooder area, place a maximum of 300 chicks and enlarge the area every after three days to avoid overcrowding. However, under full house brooding, even 3,000 or more chicks can be brooded together in one area, as long as it has enough heating. Give them enough light.
This is because it for example helps the chicks see the feeds and water. Light must be provided for the first 3 days of brooding. This means that as the sun goes down, light an artificial source of light and put it in the brooder area. It may be electricity or lanterns.
Feeders and drinkers
The number of feeders and drinkers depend on the size of the brooding area. However, each circular chick drinker is enough for 50 chicks. This means that if you have 1,000 chicks in the brooder, you need 20 drinker and 35 drinkers. These will cost you about sh1m, depending on the source.
Feeding layers – the costs
Startwith chick mash with an average consumption of around 2kg each in the first 8 weeks. This means that if you have 1,000 layers, then that is about 2,000kg of feeds in the first two months. At a cost of sh1,650 per kilogramme of pellet feeds or sh1,200 for ordinary feeds, you need sh3.3m or sh2.4m to feed 1,000 layers in two months.
From week 9, layers feed on growers mash at a rate of about 140g per day or about 6kg through the 10 weeks for each bird. This means that for the 1,000 birds, you need about sh9.9m for pellet feeds or sh7.2m for ordinary mash feeds.
After week 20, change to feeding using layers mash. The chicken are ready to start laying eggs. The good thing is that they will now start ‘feeding’ themselves from sale of eggs. Feeding the layers for the next 70 weeks will cost you between sh50.4m and sh69.3mm.
To prevent out of nest and floor eggs, broody chickens and dirty eggs, the nests are very important.
– Provide enough nests (maximum 8-10 hens per nest)
– Place the nests in a quiet area.
– If the eggs stay in the nests too long, other hens may sit on them and brood
– Broody hens will stay on the nests and reduce the nest’s capacity.
– Taking out the eggs often prevents damaged eggs because of pecking or walking on them. This is particularly important when the shell strength declines.
– The nests must be darker than the darkest spot in the hen house. Partially cover the front of the nests. This prevents cloacae pecking and floor eggs.
– Clean litter in the nests prevents dirty eggs. Clean the litter regularly!
– Provide easy access to the nests.
Tip provided by Dr Dennis Ssemwogerere, a veterinary officer with Champrisa International