Poultry farming is the raising of domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese for the purpose of production of meat and eggs for food. Poultry are farmed in great numbers with chicken being the numerous. This form of poultry farming is the most popular of all and most marketable especially here in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, poultry farming is an established and thriving business venture. It can play a prominent role in the total national income of the country and fulfil the national annual nutritional demands. Chicken production in the nation attracts a premium. Globally, per capita consumption of chicken is 25 kilograms per citizen. This means, each person is expected to consume 25 kilograms of chicken globally yet Nigerians only consume 3-5 kilos at best. Even at that, it means that 100 million citizens will need 3 to 5 million kilos of chicken annually and we are only barely producing about 40% of that. We aren’t only consuming one-quarter of what we should, we are also not producing half of what we even are consuming.
Every poultry farmer’s dream: a successful egg factory (Photo courtesy farmerstrend.co.ke)
The data above tells of the enormous opportunity in the chicken livestock space and a cue for farmers to invest in poultry. It goes without saying that there is an available market for the business.
To sum it all up and for better understanding, there are two (2) different types of chicken poultry:
This breed is known for their egg-laying capacity. A healthy hen will lay eggs for several years. A hen will begin to lay at approximately 16-20 weeks of age, depending on feeding and will lay between 20-23 dozen (240-276) of eggs in the first year. At 14 months, laying hens usually begin to moult (the process whereby they drop their old feathers and grow new ones). No eggs are laid during this period. After moulting, hens will lay larger but fewer eggs per year (about 16-18 dozen).
These are also referred to as meat breed. They are meat-producing breeds. They are very efficient in converting feed to meat, producing approximately one pound of body weight for every two pounds (~1kg) of feed they eat. Meat-producing chickens are broad-breasted and larger than the egg-laying breed. They grow rapidly and will weigh 5 pounds or more at 8 weeks.
There are 2 types of brooders:
the broilers; and
the roasters (cockerels).
The broilers feed more than the roasters and are heavier. They eat at any given opportunity and develop faster. They can be sold or butchered at 31/2 to 5 pounds (1.8-2.5kg) while a roaster is butchered at 6 to 8 pounds (3-4kg).
Having a poultry farm isn’t as easy as it seems and not as difficult as we are made to believe. As said earlier, it is lucrative business but takes a lot of mastery to successfully run a poultry. It’s not a venture you can just dabble into without planning and feasibility study on the business. Many have ventured into it and lost massive investments while a few with their mastery and skills have thrived over the years.
I will be stating the primary requirements of poultry farming which will provide preliminary guidelines for the business below:
There must be availability of land within government-approved farming environments. It is not every unused land than can be used for poultry. A residential area is not advisable for such use because of nasal disturbances to the people living in the area. If it’s an especially large farm, chicken droppings can be a terrible menace.
It is better you look for land that is quite spacious; not fully developed and a neighbourhood where your poultry will minimally affect others because of the smell. There are environmental laws against such and the government might have a case against you.
As blood is to the body, so is money to business. To start any business at all, one has to sit down and plan ahead so as not to lose the investment. As important as money is, the planning and execution also are of paramount importance. If you have a particular amount for funding, note how many birds it can breed conveniently without being stranded and don’t be carried away with excitement thinking you will have more money as you go. Truth is, it almost never works like that. Plan with the capital you have at hand. Chickens are livestock which means they depend on feeds to stay alive. If you don’t plan it well, you may end up selling off at a drastically reduced price or lose them to starvation.
Poultry farming may be a one-man business, yet it is not one person’s work. You will need qualified or experienced workers to help in different aspects of farming. You may need consultants, vets, farm hands etc. No matter how experienced you are, depending on the capacity of the farm, you need farm hands to help. This is much more important when you don’t live close to the farm or you aren’t there on a daily basis.
Savvy Managerial Skills
Either the farmer or an employee must possess supervisory abilities for daily operations on the farm. Like I said, it’s not something you can just dabble into without the required skills. Every activity on the farm should be noted and written down to compare notes and see how the progress is.
These are the primary requirements for successful poultry farming. In subsequent articles, I shall be explaining why poultry businesses fail in Nigeria, using my past experience as a case study for beginners.