Poultry farming is the breeding of domesticated birds (chicken, turkey, geese, duck, etc.) for commercial purposes and/or for personal consumption.
Poultry farming is a lucrative but delicate business. Lucrative in the sense that the consumption of the end product; chicken and egg are in constant demand up and down the country and it happens to be a potent source of animal protein outside fish, pork and beef. More importantly poultry products fall into the category of white meat, believed to be more healthy for human consumption.
Delicate in the sense that producers are very careful in caring for the birds to avoid disaster which could be as a result of disease infecting the birds. A good example of the kind of disease that can infect the birds is “bird flu” which can wipe out the entire birds in a matter of days.
Nigeria is a huge market for poultry products since people tend to prefer poultry products to red meat because of the health benefits it is believed to bestow. Some of the diseases affecting particularly the elderly people such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart related diseases are associated with red meat.
Other reasons why poultry business has become a big business in Nigeria include:
- The choice of white meat over red meat makes the demand for poultry products a choice of business for many people.
- Ready market The market is available for these products since everybody, young and old, rich and not so rich eat poultry products
- Quick return on investment Investing in a day old chick, in forty five days has the potential to bring in high profit.
- Initial capital outlay. The initial capital is low compared with some other investments. With as little as ₦50,000.00, you can start with about 100 day old chicks and in less than two months, you are selling fully grown chickens or you are selling eggs. However the downside of poultry farming you must be aware of include:
- The poultry farm may experience disease outbreak. If the disease is not controlled quickly it may be disastrous
- The feeds may be of low quality which may lead to malnutrition of the birds
- Theft by workers of the poultry farm cannot be ruled out.
Choice of the type of poultry business you would want to start. There are basically four different branches of poultry business commonly available you can choose to go into, they include:
- Broilers breeding You can go into this branch for meat production. The day old chicks grow in less than two months
- Breeding of layers This is for egg production, chickens lay eggs for an average of two years and five months before becoming weak. They can be sold off at this stage.
- Production of poultry feeds. This is another area you can do business, since the market is readily available. Those in the business of raising day old chicks must buy feeds, all you have to do is to produce the best feeds and make contacts with poultry farmers.
- Production of poultry equipments. This is a huge market on its own. Poultry equipments are so many, you can choose to produce some of them, they include:-
- Feeders: the device for supplying feeds to the birds
- Waterers: The device used for supplying water to the birds
- Nests: The place chickens lay eggs.
- Cages: Boxes made specially for keeping birds
- Coops: a place where the birds are housed.
- Incubators: Device to keep eggs warm until they are
- Perches: Place of rest for birds
- Brooders or heaters A heated structure for raising young fowl.
- Waste/disposal system
Now you have an idea of the various aspects of poultry framing business, let us go into the nitty-gritty of how to start poultry farming and succeed in Nigeria.
However I will be discussing about the production of broilers breeding (for meat) and layers breeding (for eggs) since that is what the majority of players in the industry are into. In summary, I will call this poultry farming for beginners.
The following outline are the steps you follow to get the best out of this business.
1. Take time to learn the tricks of the business
Many people who are quick to rush into the poultry farming business regret afterwards. It is a delicate business and only those who play by the rules succeed because breeding a day old chicks is not something you can be careless about lest the entire chicks die before you wake up from your slumber.
So the first thing you do after deciding to go into the business is to start a training course on how to breed chicks. Courses are organised by different agencies on how you succeed on poultry farming.
Enrol or consult a farmer, pay a token fee, and he/she will put you through. The reason for this training is that handling day old chicks is extremely technical and a novice in the business must surely get it wrong, leading to the closure of the business. Contact ABC Africa for practical training.
2. Decide on broiler breeding or egg breeding or both and have your investment ready
Your scale of operation depends on the amount of money you have available and how much you can access from the financial institutions in the course of time.
So if your investment runs into millions of naira, you can begin by acquiring a plot of land and putting up a structure deemed appropriate for the business.
You must consult an expert in this area if you do not want to lose money. Two areas to invest are commonly undertaking by many people, i.e. broiler chicken for meat and layers for egg. People do engage on this area of poultry business, i.e. poultry farm for poultry feeds.
The area is not uncommon and can be very profitable since the danger of losing your chicks as a result of diseases do not apply.
3. Set the location of your farm
In locating your poultry farm, you must take certain things into consideration such as nearness to the market where the products are going to be sold but away from the town. It must be emphasized that nearness does not mean close to residential areas since it is disallowed by law.
Moreover, you must consider the noise and odour coming from the birds. But wherever the farm is located, it must have access to roads, adequate security, power and clean water supply, etc.
4. Put up a poultry farm structure
There are mainly three types of structures for your poultry. Only two are preferred, one is not recommended.
The three are:
- Free roaming system Here the chicks are given the freedom to roam about and fend for themselves. It is highly not recommended since you do not have control of the birds.
- The sawdust system The house where the birds are kept is filled with sawdust and the chicks can move freely about within the enclosure. The sawdust must be changed frequently in order to keep the chicks safe from disease.
- The caging system Here the birds are housed in cages. Different sizes of cages for different sizes of chicks. In this battery caging system, there is always provisions for the feeding of the birds, laying of eggs and dropping by the birds. The battery caging system is highly recommended because each group of birds are housed in a separate cage that it gives the birds freedom of association but it could be more expensive. For commercial purposes, the battery caging system and the sawdust system must be large enough to give the birds freedom and good ventilation.
5. Procure equipment for the poultry farm
The equipments required for poultry business are many and they are all important. Most of them are listed above so you can find out the prices depending on the scale of operation you want to go into.
6. Workers for the poultry
If you are operating at a low scale (between 150 and 400 chicks) you can safely manage it yourself, but beyond this level, you engage some workers to assist in the daily operations of the poultry. But as a beginner, I would recommend that you operate in a small way until you get more mature. But if however you are a novice, you can engage an experienced person to work with you for a fee until you gain all the knowledge required to be independent.
7. Buying of chicks
You must research for the trusted poultry farmers and buy from them. Try to avoid the risk of buying unhealthy chicks or chicks that were not properly bred in terms of good nutrition’
8. Feeding the chicks
At the onset, you can begin with already prepared feeds until you are conversant with the feeds production. So buy already prepared feeds from trusted feeds sellers and wait until such a time you can prepare the feeds yourself.
Please for the medication rules, you must vaccinate the birds at the right time and always provide them with clean water as well as maintain proper hygiene to keep the birds healthy.
9. Selling the products
You must begin consultation from the outset of the retailers of eggs and know the prices that they buy crates of eggs. Collect their names and addresses and inform them that you have a farm and that in a particular time you will begin to supply them with eggs. You must make similar contacts for the sale of live chicken.
10. The budget
It will be a futile exercise to run down for you how much it will cost you to start your poultry farming. I would advise you to make a list of all the equipments you would need in the poultry farming business and do some window shopping in order to gather information on the prices. Also don’t forget to find out the cost a day old chick as well the poultry feeds. This is a basic Poultry farming business plan. After feasibility studies, you will have a more solid understanding.
Poultry farming has many ups and downs and can be profitable if handled with care. To be successful in the business, you must be very careful, play by the rules and be patience.
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