Poultry farming means ‘raising various types of domestic birds commercially for the purpose of meat, eggs and feather production’.It is the process of raising domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese for the purpose of farming meat or eggs for food. Poultry are farmed in great numbers with chickens being the most numerous. More than 50 billion chickens are raised annually as a source of food, for both their meat and their eggs. Commercial hens usually begin laying eggs at 16–20 weeks of age, although production gradually declines soon after from approximately 25 weeks of age. This means that in many countries, by approximately 72 weeks of age, flocks are considered economically unviable and are slaughtered after approximately 12 months of egg production. Environmental conditions are often automatically controlled in egg-laying systems. For example, the duration of the light phase is initially increased to prompt the beginning of egg-laying at 16–20 weeks of age normally, egg production occurs only in the warmer months.
How to set up a profitable poultry farming business
Poultry farming has become one of the most important aspects of agriculture in Kenya for some reasons.
1. It create business opportunity for Entrepreneurs
2. It provides employment for job seeking citizens
3. It is the kind of business that can never dry up
4. It brings in lot of income Poultry farming is very profitable.
A good poultry farmer earns above Ksh.5 million per annum depending on how big the farm is. All these benefits are open to you if you start your own poultry farm today. There are basically three types of chicken.
1. The pullets popularly known as Layers: Layers are reared for egg production and most lucrative but more stressing compare to the other once.
2. The Broiler Chicken: Broilers are reared for meat production; The Broilers grows very faster and are ready for sale at 12 weeks from hatch.
3. The third is the cockerel: This is also reared for meat production. . Cockerels grow slower and can take up to twenty four weeks before they are matured for marketing. Cockerels are reliable in terms of survival and withstanding bad weathers. They are more resilient, and can absorb shocks far better than Layers and Broilers.
Poultry farming in Kenya requires having the right knowledge to be able to do the right things and to get the right result. It requires hard work and prompt attention to details. Poultry Farming is little capital intensive but if you are starting on a micro scale (Home back yard) where you have a small space at your back yard, it is not. Starting small is the best way to enter and learn the business. Before you venture into poultry farming business in Kenya, you need to seat back and do proper planning; make sure you have an idea of all the costs involved. Currently they seem to be no high poultry farms in Kenya like the ones in Europe, USA and other counties. Any investor who has the needed capital to venture into it will have reasons to smile within a short period of time. If you are ready to get started in poultry farming in Kenya, these are the basic requirements you need to set up your farm.
LAND: The no 1 thing you need to get is land. a plot of land of 120 x 60 square meters is okay for setting up medium scale poultry farm in Kenya, at least for a start. Once you have land that is big enough for your farm set up, almost half of your needs have been taken care of. Land is the hardest and the most expensive part of poultry business in Kenya. Look for land in a rural area or in farms. There you will get lands cheaper, stays out of trouble and do your production there, while your products will be transported to the urban area for sell. It will be good if you can get your own poultry farm land and build a permanent farm rather than to rent. When you rent, the owner might decide to send you packing and relocating always comes with huge cost. Chicken
CAGE: This is the second most important part of your poultry farm set up and it is not as expensive as buying or acquiring land. There are so many ways you can build the birds house but make sure that the sizes of the building is spacious enough for the chicken to run around. The house should be constructed in a way that you will be able to control the ventilation and air movement. When planning out your chicken house, always remember that space is very important. Don’t compromise on this to avoid frequent loss of your birds through suffocation and contamination.
Day Old Chicks This is where the business starts. Buy chicks from chicken hatchery that mainly deals with the supplying of different species of day-old chickens. It’s better to buy from the hatchery, Chicken hatchery usually produce good quantity of day old chicks through the use of incubators. Raising hens from baby chicks requires you to check on them often during the first few weeks (Seven to nine weeks). It’s really fun to watch them turn from downy, fluffy little balls into feathered-out, gawky adolescent pullets. A chick does not have the ability to maintain its own body temperature without an external source of heat.
Below are outlines of taking care of chicks after you have gotten them, once those baby balls of fluff arrive home,
1). You’ll want to have everything ready for them to settle into their brooder and stay warm and happy.
2). Plan to check on them at least five times a day during the first couple of weeks of life, and less after that. You’ll need to monitor their temperature, keep them safe from pets, predators and over handling by children, keep their feed and water clean.
3). Make sure your baby chicks have everything they’ll need on the first day home. As they get older, you will use different feeders, but for the first week or two, plastic chick feeders like the ones you see above will make life a lot easier for you.
4). Light must be available at all time in your poultry farm to keep the chickens warm, especially during raining season when the humidity is always very low. Look for reliable source of power to supply your hen’s house with heat and light. Chicks love to stomp in their feed, tip it over, and generally make a mess. They’re also not terribly smart and can eat quite a lot of shavings or bedding while they pick spilled feed off the floor. These feeders are perfect. They’re at the right height when placed on the brooder floor.
Caring for Your Growing Chickens; after the baby chick stage passes, you’ll have young pullets and cockerels and, once they turn one year old, hens and roosters. Some basic daily chores involving keeping their food and water fresh and collecting eggs is the basis of ongoing chicken care, but you’ll want to make sure they’re protected from predators and staying healthy as well.
NB). Most layers will start laying eggs the moment they are 18 weeks old but some wait till they are about 22 weeks old. Whichever way, Layer farming is considered the most lucrative of all poultry farming because two things are achieved from layers, they lay eggs which fetch good money in the market, and are equally sold for the meat.