Rearing broiler chickens is unarguably a very lucrative agribusiness. Broiler chickens are the meat-types of poultry chickens. There are different breeds of broiler chickens; the common ones are the Ross, Cobbs, and Arbo-Acre; these breeds are characterized by their rapid growth, short period to harvest and low feed conversion.
According to the recent broiler chicken industry key fact, about 9 billion broiler chickens were produced 2018; the demand for animal protein is yet to be efficiently met globally; this calls for more production of broiler chickens around the globe.
Lots of poultry farmers face huge challenges which account to huge loss of investment or production at a high cost, leading to little or no profit at the end of the production cycle.
There are different phases of rearing broiler chickens, I will be sharing with you some tips in each phase to reduce your cost of production and maximize your profits.
These tips are applicable in the following area of broiler production:
- Broilers feeding program
- Pest and disease control
- Marketing and standardization
1. Brooding Of Broiler Chickens
The most important phase of broiler production is the brooding stage, usually lasts for 3-4 weeks. The first 10 days in the life of broiler chickens is very important; you would know if you are making a profit or not during the first 10 days.
Brooding is the management of day-old chicks; it entails all the necessary processes involved in building a solid foundation, in terms of good health and good growth, from chicks to market size. It is a very delicate aspect of rearing chickens.
The most important factors in brooding are Temperature, Lighting, and Feeding. These three factors can increase your profit or reduce your profits; it all depends on how knowledgeable you are. During the first 10 days, the chicks need heat for growth and feeding.
Prior to stocking the day-old chicks, the brooding pen should be heated to a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. The temperature induces the chicks’ appetite, thus, stimulating them to eat. the more the chicks eat, the better and faster they grow. At low temperatures, the feed intake is low which leads to wastage and poor utilization of feed; this marks the beginning of the increase in the cost of your production.
Another important factor is lighting; this factor is very prominent if you want to harvest your broiler chickens faster. Lighting stimulates the chickens to eat more; it is very essential especially during the first 10 days of brooding. Follow this lighting program for your broiler chicks and watch them grow faster.
- Provide 24 hours of bright light each day for the first 3 days.
- Provide 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness each day for 6-7 days of age.
- Provide 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day from 7-21 days.
- Adopt natural daylight from 4 weeks to market.
What you are simply doing is to modulate their feeding habit, because broiler chickens will eat when they see light. The first 72 hours, 3 days, should be dedicated to feeding. This allows the chicks to gain weight faster and grow healthier, this is a foundation that must be attained for good growth. After 4 weeks, the broiler chickens are moved to the grow-out pen where they spend the remaining two weeks.
2. Housing Design For Broiler Production
Housing is very important; the broiler house must serve several purposes, the prominent one is protection against harsh weather conditions and pests. These two can increase your cost of production through diseases and infections, hence, you need measures to reduce the cost of housing your birds.
One of the ways to indirectly lower the cost of your broiler production through housing is through the orientation of your broiler pen. The broiler house must be oriented in an east to west direction; that is, the narrow section should face the east and the wider section should face the north-south to reduce sunlight in the pen.
This is important because the penetration of sunlight into the pen raise the temperature above the acceptable level which may lead to heat stress. Heat stress increases the cost of your production by decreasing feed intake and weight gain.
The litter material and its management also play a prominent role in lowering the cost of your broiler production. How?
The litter material provides comfort in the pen, which leads to better utilization of feed and better weight gain. However, if you use the wrong litter material, you can end up treating respiratory diseases or disorders, which in turn increases your cost of production. Examples of litter materials are wood shavings, sawdust, rice bran, etc.; of these materials, sawdust and wood shavings are readily available.
Use wood shavings instead of sawdust; it has larger particles and fluffier compared to sawdust. Wood shaving will reduce the risk of respiratory diseases and blindness; these are peculiar to sawdust.
Another important way to minizine the cost of producing broiler chickens is through the stocking rate. Broilers need space to grow fast and healthy. Overstocking leads to reduced growth while understocking is more or less a waste of resources as it costs more to construct a large pen for a relatively small flock.
You need a cost-effective stocking rate for your broiler chickens. The recommended stock density for broiler chicken from day old to market size is 0.28sqm per bird; use this stocking rate to design your pen to manage cost and reduce expenses.
3. Broiler Chickens Feeding Guide
Feeding takes the lion’s share of the total cost of production, hence, the aspect of feeding in broiler production must be taken very seriously. You are to feed the chicks ad-libid during the first 3 days; feed in good quantity and quality to enhance the efficiency of the feed.
Broiler farmers feed their chickens two types of feed; the broiler starter diet and the broiler finisher diet. The starter diet is fed for the first 4 weeks, while the finisher is used from 4 weeks to market size. Truly, your chicken would grow very big but at a high cost. Your chickens may even develop bone disorder due to high weight gain, hence, reducing the market value or even death.
In order to reduce the cost of feeding without compromising the market weight of your chickens, you can include a diet in your feeding program. Introduce the Grower diet in your feeding program to cut the cost of feeding and maintain the weight gain within an acceptable level.
Serve the starter diet to 3 weeks, serve the grower to 4 weeks and continue with the finisher from 4 weeks to harvest period. With this feeding program, you’ve been able to reduce the cost of feeding and achieve a marketable weight of 3kg and above.
Another way to cut excesses in feeding is through precision feeding. This method is economical; it simply means feeding at least the minimum amount of feed a chicken will eat at a particular time. Feed your chickens based on 55g per bird per day and increase the feed by 10g every week till harvesting. You will have a good result.
4. Pest And Disease Control In Broiler Production
Pest and disease are usually the banes of the high cost of production; aside from feeding, you can greatly cut the cost of your production by prevention of these diseases and pest. Be confident to inquire from the hatchery the vaccination carried out on the chicks before leaving the hatchery. It is very important to avoid future breakdown of the birds.
Aside from vaccination, you can prevent diseases by using these herbs, regular changing of litter material to prevent diseases such as coccidiosis and stringent biosecurity measures. These are cheap ways of cutting the cost of broiler medications.
5. Marketing And Standardization Of Broiler Chickens
Marketing of broiler chickens should start at the 5th week. if by 7th week you are still feeding you chickens then you are running at loss. In order to fast-track your sale, start your marketing as early as possible.
Regarding the standard of sale, it is best you sell per kg; with that, you can fully earn what you worked for at the end of the production.
Rearing broiler chicken is a very lucrative business that one can earn hugely in a relatively short period. Usually, broiler chickens are reared for 6 weeks, attaining a market weigh of above 2.5kg when all production practices are done properly.
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