Agribusiness Series;Broiler 101

Have you been thinking of starting a poultry business, but you don’t know how to go about it? Good thing you have me right? I’ll walk you through the basics of broiler production.

Some characteristics of broiler production include

  • It can be highly profitable ( between 20-50% return on capital if well managed)
  • It is NOT environmental friendly, terrible odours and greenhouse gases are frequently produced
  • It entails some degree of hard work (back breaking if you ask me).
  • Waste materials can be recycled/ sold for extra cash (poultry droppings, used feed bags, etc.)

Steps to setting up a poultry farm

  1. Determine the number of birds you want to start with.
  2. Get an area suitable such as a cage, a pen or an empty room
  3. Based on the number of birds you want, you will need a light source (e.g. electricity, charcoal, kerosene stove or gas stove), wood shavings, drinkers, feeders, nylon or polythene bags(for brooding) drugs, vaccines and of course poultry feed.
  4. Get your area ready; wash, disinfect, fumigate (if necessary) and allow to sit for two weeks, so as to starve any surviving disease causing agents. If you are purchasing already brooded birds, skip to step 10
  5. Book for your birds; if you would like to purchase day old birds, popular farms such as CHI, Zartech and Obansanjo farms have hatcheries and deliver day old birds every Tuesday and Friday. Look up their contacts online, place your order, pay and wait for your birds to get to you (I’ve been doing this with Zartech for a while with no trouble).
  6. On the day of the arrival of your birds, re-prep your space; rewash if needed, spread your wood shavings, arrange your feeders and drinkers, turn on your heat source. I like to place old newspapers on the wood shavings to monitor the droppings for the first few days.
  7. Prepare a foot dip, this consists of a disinfectant in a bowl or tray placed at the door of the pen or room, attendants are to dip their feet before entering the pen. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases
  8. On the arrival of the birds place them immediately in the pen, count quickly if you need to do so, remove and burn/bury dead birds.
  9. Monitor the birds for 30 minutes – I hour. Administer drugs, water and food as required.
  10. Ensure the heat remains constant until your birds have developed sufficient feathers to withstand the cold. It takes 1-3 weeks depending on the weather.
  11. Follow daily routine management practices, they include;
  • Remove dead birds.
  • Run your fingers through overnight feeds to remove faeces and particles of wood shavings.
  • Refill feeders if necessary.
  • Remove drinkers, wash and serve clean cool water.
  1. Occasional management practices include;
  • Change the litter if it becomes wet and smelly.
  • Administer vaccines as required
  • Observe your birds for any signs of illness such as droopiness (uncontrolled sleeping), difficulty in breathing and blood in their faeces. Isolate sick birds and consult a vet doctor immediately.

Vaccine and drug schedule for broilers

DAY DRUG/VACCINE
1 Glucose in water for 1 hour upon arrival

Neoceryl and vitalyte for 3 days

7 1st Gumboro vaccine
14 1st Lasota vaccine
21 2nd Gumboro vaccine
28 2nd Lasota vaccine

*this is a personal schedule, feel free to use any variation that suits you.

Feed regimen for broilers

DAY FEED TYPE
1-14 Broiler pre-starter or super-starter
15-28 Broiler starter
29-slaughter Broiler finisher

*this is a personal regimen, feel free to use any variation that suits you.

*some commercial feed companies do not produce pre-starters or super-starters, starter ration is fed for the first 4 weeks.

*birds should be provided with constant feed and water for the first 4 weeks (ad libitum).

Did I miss out any step? Is there something else you would like to know? Let me know in the comments. See you in my next post!

Abisola Oladele

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Bird flu in Nigeria; Protect Yourself and Your Birds

The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has disclosed the re-occurrence of bird flu in Nigeria, citing its presence in 26 states and the FCT with over 3.5 million birds affected.

Bird flu, formally known as Avian influenza is an illness caused by strains of influenza viruses that occur naturally in wild and aquatic birds in which they do no harm (these are referred to asymptomatic carriers), but they can be transmitted to domestic birds in which they cause severe diseases with high mortality, with up to 90- 100 % mortality in 24- 48 hours. A few types of bird flu can be transmitted to other animals as well as man.

Methods of transmission

Bird flu primarily spreads in humans and birds by contact with infected birds or contact with surfaces that have been exposed to the virus. People who do not regularly come in contact with birds are not at a high risk, however poultry farm workers and bird sellers have a high risk of contracting the disease. The virus does NOT survive in well cooked meat.

The virus can survive for a long period outside the host and can also be transmitted by mechanical vectors such as vehicles, equipment, moving poultry droppings (manure) between farms, and personnel travelling between farm, markets and abattoirs.

Symptoms of bird flu.

  • Ruffled feathers
  • Depression and droopiness (uncontrolled sleeping)
  • Sudden drop in egg production
  • Sudden death of birds
  • Swelling of head, eyelids, comb
  • In-coordination, loss of ability to walk
  • Nasal discharges
  • Soft shelled eggs
  • Respiratory distress

In humans, Avian influenza symptoms include; fever, cough, sore throat, conjunctivitis (eye infection), muscle aches, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment of bird flu in poultry is almost impossible due to the rate at which the disease spreads, it is therefore advisable to slaughter all birds that have been exposed to the disease. Avian influenza vaccination can also be used as a supplementary tool for treating bid flu.

Steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of bird flu to your farms include;

  • Tighter bio-security measures: Only farm workers should be allowed into the farm, restricting the movement of your farm workers to other farms, vehicles and equipment entering the farm should be well disinfected.
  • Regular disinfection of the farm area (fumigation) using broad spectrum virucidal disinfectants such as ViraCid – S, VIROCID, and CID 20.
  • Workers handling infected birds should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) e.g. gloves, coveralls, boots, safety goggles, nose masks, and respirators.

if you have a backyard flock for your family only, take note of the following;

  • prevent contact of your birds with other wild birds, wild birds can be attracted to your yard by the presence of poultry feed and water. use proper netting or other forms of barriers to protect the birds,their feed and water.
  • use designated clothing when attending to your birds.
  • separate birds of different species especially ducks and geese as they sometimes act as asymptomatic carriers.
  • wash and disinfect your hands before and after attending to birds
  • check your birds regularly for any sign of illness.
  • keep the environment around your birds clean and unattractive to wild birds.

Antiviral drugs and avian flu vaccines have been used to treat cases of bird flu in humans.

Abisola Oladele.