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How To Get The Best Out Of Poultry Farming

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Profitability in poultry depends on how a farmer takes care of the birds and the type birds that he or she keeps.

BROILERS

Broilers bring in quick returns as they are ready for sale at six weeks. The market for broilers (chicken meat) is always available, notably in supermarkets, restaurants and hotels, especially if you can supply them on a consistent basis. There is also potential for export.

A day-old broiler chick on average costs sh1,600. From day one to three weeks, each chick will have consumed 1-1.5kg of broiler starter feeds.

From four to seven weeks, each broiler will have consumed between 3-3.5kg of broiler finisher.

From week six when the birds weigh 2-2.4kg, a farmer will start selling them. Other costs include brooding and vaccination. Vaccination of 500 birds with Newcastle +IB and Gumboro at different intervals will cost a farmer about sh55,000. It is important to note that although broilers bring in quick returns, the profit margins are minimal. Normally, a farmer will earn a profit of sh2,000 on each bird.

According to current market prices, broilers are sold at between sh12,000 and sh18,000. For commercial purposes, farmers are recommended to keep a minimum of 500 birds.

LAYERS

A day-old layer chick on average costs sh3,300 although some hatcheries sell for as low as sh2,800.

Layers feed on chick and duck mash for the first two months and within this period, each bird will consume at least 2kg.

From two to five months, they feed on growers mash and within this period, a bird will consume at least 6kg.

From production (when they start laying) at 20 weeks onwards, they are fed on layers’ mash. Once egg production falls below 60%, a farmer is advised to dispose of them.

In terms of vaccination, 500 layers will cost about sh155,000. This will include vaccines for Newcastle, Infectious Brochitis, Gumboro, Fowl pox and Fowl typhoid — given at different intervals as directed by a professional extension/veterinary officer.

On average, 500 birds will give you 14 trays of eggs per day for a period of 40 weeks. On average, a tray of eggs sells at sh10,000. Well-looked after, layers will give you a production capacity of 85%, each bird giving you between 350 and 450 eggs throughout the laying cycle.

GETTING THE BEST

The quality and the quantity of feeds and water, stocking density, number of drinkers and feeders as well as disease control strategies will greatly affect the laying capacity of the flock.

One drinker will cater for 50 birds while one feeder will cater for 25 birds. Drinkers and feeders vary in design and so do the prices. Bio-security measures are also recommended (a set of measures designed to reduce disease incidence) for disease control. For example, clothes used in the poultry farm should be left inside.

MARKET

There is a ready market for chicken and chicken products across the country and in the region. This is why irrespective of other factors, chicken prices have risen from an average sh12,000 two years ago to around sh18, 000 for hybrids and sh20, 000 to sh30, 000 for local chicken.

The retail prices of eggs have risen from sh8,500 a tray over three years ago, to over sh14,000 now.

One of the reasons chicken prices went up a few years ago was the opening of the South Sudan and DR Congo markets.

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