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The Agronomics Of Keeping Chicken

by Harvest Money Editor
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Broilers

Broilers bring in quick returns as they are ready for sale at six weeks. The market for broilers (chicken meat) is also ever available notably in supermarkets, restaurants and hotels especially if you can supply on a consistent basis. There’s also potential for export. A one-day broiler chick on average costs sh2,000.

From day one to three weeks, each chick will have consumed 1-1.5kg of broiler starter feeds, with an average cost of sh1,100. 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 minting money. Other costs include brooding and vaccination expenses.

Vaccination of 500 birds with Newcastle +IB and Gumboro at different intervals will cost a farmer about Ushs35, 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 sell between sh9,000 and sh12, 000. For commercial purposes the farmers are recommended to at least stock a minimum of 500 birds.

Layers

A day-old layer chick on average costs sh3,500. Layers feed on chick and duck mash for the first two months and within this period, each bird will consume at least 2kg, with a kilo on average selling at sh1,200. From 2-5 months, they feed on growers mash and within this period, a bird will consume at least 6kgs, a kilo costing sh980 on average.

From production (when they start laying) at 20 weeks on wards, they are fed on layers mash. Once production falls below 60% egg production, a farmer is advised to dispose them off. In terms of vaccination, 500 layers will cost about sh155,000.

This will include vaccines such as Newcastle, Infectious Brochitis, Gumboro, Fowl pox, Fowl typhoid – given at different intervals as directed by a professional extension/veterinary officer. On average, 500 birds will give you 14 trays per day for a period of 40 weeks.

On average, a tray of eggs sells at sh7,500. Well looked after layers will give you a production capacity of 85% , each bird will give you between 350-450 eggs throughout the laying cycle.

Getting the best

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

One drinker will cater for 50 birds while 1 feeder will cater for 25 birds. Drinkers and feeders vary in designs 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 sh9,000 two years ago, to around sh13,000 for hybrids and sh20,000 to sh35,000 for local chicken.

The retail prices of eggs have risen from sh8,000 a tray over 3 years ago, to over sh12,000 now (wholesale).

One of the reasons chicken prices went up a few years ago was the entry of the South Sudanese and Kenyan markets.

Traders say chicken producers are not able to satisfy the market, hence the need for more investors in the sector. 

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