How to start a poultry farm and make profit!
This is a topic that is close to my heart because I grew up on a mini animal farm. As a teenager, I raised Chickens, Goats, Dogs, Rabbits, Ducks and even 1 cat. However, this article is focused on how to start a poultry farm.
Why is a Poultry farm a viable idea?
- With 170 million Nigerians who need to eat, the market potential for poultry products is big.
- Another advantage is that chickens mature faster than many other animals like goats, cows. A chicken can be ready for sales in about 16 weeks (the broilers).
- You can earn in multiple ways from a poultry- you can sell the eggs whilst the chicken is still laying. When the chicken becomes old, you can sell the old layers for consumption, you can sell the waste product from the poultry- excreta to fish pond owners as feed or to farmers as manure.
How to start:
1st step is to really take time to understand the farming and the business aspect of poultry farming.
The farming side includes:
- Understand what type of chicken do you want to invest in. There are 2 popular ones in Nigeria: the broilers and the layers. The broilers (mainly cross breeds and are white coloured) are specially bred for fast growth whilst the layers (mostly brown or black coloured) are those that can lay eggs and mature for sales after a while. The broilers are mature for sales after about 12-16 weeks of adequate care. The layers start laying eggs as from 20 weeks till about 12-15 months. When they stop laying, they can be sold as old layers. You can easily tell the difference as the broilers look like ‘butter pikin’ and the layers look more ‘rugged’. On a lighter note, one thing is common though, both of them have a mean peck.
- Understand what phase of the poultry life cycle you want to start. You need to know if you want to buy the ready to hatch eggs, incubate them and raise the chicks from 1 day old chicks to adulthood. An alternative is to buy older chicks- about 8 weeks old from another farmer who specializes in incubating chicks. I advise new farmers to buy older chicks because incubating chicks is similar to caring for newly born babies. They need a lot of care- right room temperature, right lighting, prevent stampede, right feeding, right cleaning and more. Phew! They are fragile.
- Make a decision how to raise the chickens: Many prefer the deep litter method versus the cage system because it is less capital intensive and easy to clean. However both have their advantages and disadvantages. The deep litter method is when the chickens are allowed to roam within a large space almost in a natural manner. Many farmers leave saw dust on the ground so it can absorb the waste droppings from the chicken. The main disadvantage is that it is more difficult to pick the eggs and there is a higher chance of ‘chicken fight’ over food and water which in turn affects the productivity of the chickens. The battery system is more structured, the eggs can be easily picked up, there is better distribution of food and water however it needs higher capital for the cages and is a bit more difficult to clean.
- Learn how to take care of the chickens: Before you start. Note I said before you start. You must learn how to raise them. What kind of feed they will have, what types of vaccines they need, which vet doctor can attend to them in case of emergencies, how to prevent predators! Yes, they will come; snakes, soldier ants, rats and more especially if your location is close to water source such as streams or rivers.
- Identify your team: Very crucial, raising chickens is a full day job. They need to be fed 2-3 times daily. They don’t understand you are stuck in traffic and cannot make their feeding time. They need to be given clean water daily, they need their cages to be cleaned, they need eggs to be picked daily. You need a committed staff to help depending on the poultry size.
Exciting, isn’t it! Please, watch out for the next episode on the financial side of poultry management. Please, follow us to get details. Drop questions or comments below.
Thanks and until then, stay financially wise.