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

My Catfish Production; Lessons Learnt

Hello everyone! As promised,these are the possible reasons why my fish farming failed:

  1. Poor performing fingerlings obtained from over used broodstocks
  2. Extreme stress during the first few weeks of growth
  3. Purchasing too large quantity of fingerlings
  4. Use of low quality feeds
  5. Absence of an alternate source of protein
  6. I am not perfect at this!

Some of the Lessons l learnt include:

Obtain hatchery testimonials before purchasing fingerlings; I got the hatchery recommendations I used from a lady who sells livestock feed and drugs, this was not a good idea. From now on before purchasing from a hatchery, I would try to make enquiries from people who have made purchases from them.

Fingerlings should be exposed to as little stress as possible in this first few weeks of growth as they are very fragile and too much stress could affect their growth rate. I wrote in this post of the stress the fingerlings had to go through, due to some negligence on my part.

Purchase as many fishes as you can feed comfortably; it was only after buying 1500 fingerlings, I realized how much feed they could consume, but I was already in it and there was no going back so I had to find a way to manage cash by buying cheaper feeds. I know some farmers use these feeds with optimum results, so it could be in combination with any of the afore-mentioned reasons, however I would NOT be using that feed again plus I will be limiting my purchases going forward to 500-750 fingerlings per batch.

Catfishes do not perform well when they are raised solely on commercial feeds. As they are carnivores by nature, they require an alternate and regular source of animal protein, it could be maggots (fresh or dried), chicken and fish intestines (roasted or cooked), dead animals (roasted or cooked), crayfish fixed in thier feed, these should be fed to them at least once a day or simply raising a poly culture system of catfish and tilapia (the catfish would feed on the tilapia. I’m trying this next!).

Have any other ideas as to why my last fish farming venture failed? Let me know in the comments. See you in my next post!

Protecting your Livestock Investment

A few months  ago, I decided to resume catfish production on the farm, and so a little over a week ago, we took a road trip to keffi (nassarawa state) where I bought clarias fingerlings. I already left instructions for the concrete pond to be filled with water before i got back. But on getting back to the farm the pond was near empty! turns out the pond was leaking, the staff had filled the pond and all of the water had leaked out, ha! Imagine the shock and fear, the fingerlings were already stressed from a two hour journey and now the pond was leaking. We managed to patch the leaking point and stocked the fish. Two days later I noticed the water in the pond had reduced drastically, I checked well and saw the pond was still leaking and could not be fixed unless we emptied the pond. By the time I was done emptying the pond, the fingerlings were weak and many of them died.

The thing is, all of this could have been avoided if I had been more cautious and taken necessary Steps at protecting my investment, as livestock especially day old chicks and fingerlings could be very fragile. here are some of the ways you can protect you livestock investment

  • Have an alternative housing/pond, in case something goes wrong. in my case I had a plastic pond in almost good condition and I was able to move the fingerlings in there
  • Ensure that the housing/pond is in good condition at least a week to the arrival of your livestock. I should have filled the pond earlier and double checked that all was well with it.
  • Always have a professional/an experienced person at least a phone call away. the beautiful and kind lady who owns the hatchery was nice enough to walk me through moving the fish without loosing more than I could have.
  • Keep adequate records of feed consumption, illnesses, weight (if possible), age etc. these would aid in a time of crises to determine the rate of drugs to be administered.
  • Administer vaccines and/or other necessary treatment at the appropriate time, no skipping or postponement.
  • Hope for the best!

What are the ways you have been able to protect your livestock investment? please share with us in the comments.

Abisola Oladele