You can start seeds in almost anything these days… peat pots, seed trays, toilet paper rolls, newspaper rolls, paper towels, or even that good old-fashioned thing called the ground.
But have you tried starting seeds in eggshells? It almost seems like an urban myth, with rumors that it’s possible, but little proof of people who have actually done it successfully.
After your seedling has developed its first set of true leaves (these are actually the second set of leaves to appear, after the cotyledons), you can transplant it into a larger pot or directly in your garden.
Uncooked rice: If you are going to feed your chickens rice, be sure you cook it first. Once chickens eat dry rice, it will blow up when moisture is introduced and this can cause serious digestive problems.
Salty foods: Too much salt can cause salt toxicity or hypernatremia. Chickens are not able to digest large amounts of salt so keep this in mind as you feed your chickens.
Raw eggs: If you give your flock raw eggs then many turn cannibal.
Candy, sugar, chocolate: Adding sugar and chocolate, in particular to your chicken’s diet can cause tremendous digestive problems. It is best to avoid it at all costs.
In recent years, chicken farming in Kenya has become so trendy as to be commonplace.
As chickens need care every day, year-round, chicken farmers are not known for taking extended vacations so it is a profession to which a person must be very dedicated or have a staff on hand they trust.
Becoming a profitable chicken farmer takes a great deal of research in different methods to raise chickens and different ways to make money based on your area.
Calculation example for layers
Cost per chick ksh 90/chick for 200 birds ksh 18000
Chicks need heat at start of brooding until they emerge their own feather. Chicks reared through natural brooding get the heat they require from the hen. But in modern poultry production stations, the heat sources for chicks are brooders/Heaters. Kerosene lump, Charcoal heater, Bulb with 60-100 watt as well as Hay box can be used as brooder/heaters
Provide 6 sq inches per chicks under the brooder.
Brooding should be started at 95 F temperature and be reduced by 5 F every week until 70 F is attained.
De-beaking may be done at 3rd week of age.
Provide continuous light during brooding period.
Provision of clean fresh water.
Daily inspect the condition of birds for any abnormalities.
Height of the feeder should be adjusted to the convenience of the chicks.
Keep a standby in case of emergency electricity failure.
Brooding Temperature: Patterns of chick distribution under electric brooder-
Kerosene lump This brooder type can support up to 100 chicks. The advantage of this heater include:
No risk of power failure, low investment, supplies light and it is portable
On the other hand, the disadvantage of this brooder include:
High fuel demand and fuel expensiveness, danger for fire, carbon dioxide production
Needs a lot of control, heat goes to wrong direction and needs ventilation
Charcoal heater The advantage of this heat source include:
Charcoal is cheaper than kerosene and no risk of power failure
Require low investment and is portableOn the other hand, the disadvantage include
There is risk of fire and carbon dioxide production
Ventilation is necessary and it needs a lot of cont
Bulb with 60-100 watt/electric brooder
The advantage of this heat source include
It is easy to manage and there is no risk of fire
It is easy to adjust and supplies light
On the other hand, the disadvantage include
Electricity is expensive and there is risk for power failure
Life time not very long and can break easily
Hay box brooder
Hay box brooder can be made from timber, straw and mesh wire. The sizes of the timber differ according to the number of chicks to be reared. In this type of artificial brooder, it is possible to rear 10-70 chicks and it has two parts. These parts are heat maintenance and chick feeder & shelter box as indicated in the following picture
The advantages of Hay box brooder include
Provides service in rural areas/ no electricity and it is cheap
Increase the productivity of local chicken breeds and reduces chick mortality
Helps to rear many chicks at a time and is effective in all agro-ecologies
On the other hand, the disadvantages of this brooder include:
Sometimes there is the occurrence of pests and
When there is unavailability of lumber and its expensiveness
In order to reduce the feed cost which accounts for about 70% of the total cost of poultry production indigenous poultry feed enterprises came into existence. Most small scale poultry enterprises now depend on these indigenous feed rations.
The raw materials are sourced locally. The feed constitutes mainly of maize, sorghum spent grains, groundnut cake, soyabean meal, fish meal and bone meal.
In Kenya, the feed industry is dominated by few large commercial feed industries
Currently in Kenya emphasis has been placed on encouraging indigenous feed enterprises that make use of local ingredient in formulating feeds for the poultry industry. Due to the foregoing, the numbers of such enterprises are on the increase.
The task of meeting the increasing demand for poultry feed can best be realized through increased availability of indigenous feed production.
Indigenous Feed Enterprises are seen as an honest approach because of ease of availability of raw materials, and access by poultry farmers. A number of strategies have been adopted such as price policies, input subsidies, production credit and liberalization) by governments and individuals to increase the output of these poultry feed enterprises, yet their performance is low in terms of meeting the needs of the poultry industry. Interestingly, the request for the products of the enterprises is daily on the increase.
Poultry feed is food for farm poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese and other domestic birds. Feed for poultry mostly consists of grain. A portion of commercial feed, typically around a quarter, is known as bulk and is indigestible. The amount of bulk is referred to as bulk density. The quantities of feed, and the nutritional requirements of the feed, depend on the weight and the age of the poultry as well as the season. Based on their age, weight and breed, below are different categories of feeds
Chicks’ mash- the formulation to meet nutritional requirement of newly hatched chicks and animals up to their brooding and whining period.
Broilers mash-it is the feed meant for the broiler chicks. The feed ensure quick growth and development of the livestock because of its richness in protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.
Growers’ mash- enables livestock to grow and develop faster in body size, weight, and other internal and external features to give room for their maturity at the expected time.
Layer mash- these feed is needed in helping the birds that are layers to produce more eggs which are big in size, properly shaped with good hard shells.
Ecochicks Poultry will help you examine the financial viability of establishing a livestock feed processing plant in Kenya. The installed capacity of the proposed factory is 2.5 tons of poultry feed operating for 8 hours which translates to 100 bags of 25kg livestock feed.
To farm 1000 layers is not a joke. You need to automate as many tasks as possible
The layers are in cages. The cage can fabricated a the farm using the normal wire mesh. The wire mesh can be painted to increase durability. Feeders can be improvised from drainage water pipes cut in a half
Automating watering system
Watering system is automated to reduce labour and improve sanitation.
Drug administration can also be made through the tank
Farmers are advised to start cheaply using locally available materials. Juakali feeders and drinkers can be used which are relatively cheaper. Bamboo can also be of very use in poultry
Local chicken feeders and drinkers to minimize costs
With most animals, it is relatively easy to determine the sex of the newborn. The male reproductive organs are located on the outside of the body and are relatively easy to see, even in newborns. This is not the case with poultry. In male birds, the reproductive organs are inside the body cavity. This makes sexing newly hatched chicks difficult.
Vent sexing day old chicks is a skill that takes a long time to develop. It involves holding the chick upside down in one hand, expelling the fecal material, and everting (turning outward) the vent area. The producer can then look for the presence or absence of a rudimentary male sex organ. This process sounds much easier than it actually is. To accurately sex chicks in this way, you need to be well trained and to have had a great deal of practice.
This is the most accurate method for improved Kienyeji chicken.
Feather sexing is only possible for some chicken breeds.
Myths and Old Wives’ Tales
It is a common misconception that you can candle an egg to determine whether it is fertile. You cannot candle an egg and determine whether it is fertile. If the egg is fertile, you can’t determine whether the embryo is male or female
Another myth involves observing the shape of the egg. According to this method, eggs that have a longer, narrower shape will yield male chicks, and eggs that are rounder will yield female. In reality, the shape of the egg is not related to the sex of the offspring, nor does it indicate whether the egg is fertile.
Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle with very high proteins for your livestock
Mealworm combined with sukuma and green vegetables produce yellow yolked eggs and kienyeji tasting chickens
Mealworms (also known as Tenebrio molitor) are in fact insects. They are scavengers that can be found in grain stores, feed sacks and occasionally household items such as cereal and flour. They like dark, dry places that store grain or other edibles such as flour or chicken feed.
All the nutrition and water they need for surviving and thriving can be extracted from the grain which they have infested.
If you are looking for a way to raise your own protein cheaply, easily, and with almost no space or infrastructure, look no further than mealworms. When food is scarce, you’ll want livestock that are efficient, take up small spaces, and can easily be hidden.
A female beetle will lay up to five hundred eggs during her short lifetime of a couple of months. After a couple of weeks, the eggs will hatch and become larvae – which we know as a mealworm.
Mealworms molt their exo-skeleton several times before they reach the pupa stage after approximately 3 months.
The pupa basically looks like a dead mealworm but it is busy transforming itself into a Darkling beetle. The only movement you will see is an occasional twitch if the pupa is disturbed. It does not eat or take nutrition during this period. It will remain a pupa for about 2-3 weeks before hatching into a brown beetle that over a period of days will turn a black color. The complete lifecycle can be done in as little as 5-6 months in ideal circumstances.
How to Make a Mealworm Farm
Step 1: Find a Container. plastic storage or similar item will do
The chosen container will need a lid or screen mesh to put over the top. The lid needs to allow for some air circulation through the container.
Use a transparent container to see what’s going on inside and get a feel for how quickly they are developing.
Step 2: Prepare Your Container. Thoroughly clean and dry your container
Any location you do choose needs to be a warm (the ideal temperature is 26C), low light/ dark environment.
Step 3: Add Your Substrate
For the feed you can use wheat bran. If you can’t use wheat bran then rolled oats, chicken mash or cereal crumbs will also work.
Note: Don’t get your substrate (bran etc.) wet; you don’t want a moldy environment.
Step 4: Add Mealworms to Your Farm
You now need to add mealworms into your container, the more the better! You should aim to start with at least 500.
Step 5: Feed Them and Let Them Grow
You now just need to keep your mealworms fed and let them grow and multiply.
You can feed them as much as you like, remember: more food means the more they multiply.
Depending on the conditions you have provided for your insects, it will take a few months before you can start feeding the larvae to your hens. You should only feed the worms to your hens, the pupae and beetles should be left in the farm to reproduce.
Don’t worry about removing dead beetles, the larvae will do that for you. Do, however, remove any bits of moldy food and discard it.
Seek out neighbors and chicken farmers in the area
Yes, the internet is full of useful sites for raising chickens, but nothing beats the advice and knowledge of someone with whom you can talk in your area. Seeing other people’s setups will help you troubleshoot your own, and you can have people actually come see your operation and your chickens when you are having problems
2. Be prepared to stumble upon some horrible chicken deaths
Most of the times new beginners in poultry farming have little or nor experience in diseases controls and prevention. When some diseases strike they sweep the entire flock
3. Don’t expect your chickens to lay eggs on a consistent schedule
The breed helps determines when your chickens should lay eggs, but chickens will often take longer than standard estimates and egg laying will vary with the seasons. Making sure they have good, whole grain food with at least 17 percent protein, a healthy amount of water and ample light will help
4. Plan to spend lot of time on “chicken blogs
Much like how parents pore over blogs and books about what’s ailing their sick children, when chicken farmers’ hens get sick, they spend lots of time perusing sites
We shall be using The Pearson Square methodrelies on the Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) as the basic nutritional requirement for feed.
The most common ingredients used in poultry feed are whole maize, maize germ, cottonseed cake, soya beans, sunflower or omena (fishmeal).
The farmer needs to know the Digestible Crude Protein (DCP) of the raw materials. Whole maize (8.23 %DCP) Soya (45 % DCP) Omena (55 % DCP) and maize bran (7 % DCP) Sunflower (35 %DCP).
To make a 70 kg bag of feed
Layers require total crude protein content of at least 18 % to meet nutritional requirement.
34 kg of whole maize 12 kg of Soya 8 kg of omena 10 kg of maize bran 6 kg of Lime (as a calcium source)
Whole maize = 34 kg x 8.23 ÷100 = 2.80kg Soya bean = 12 kg x 45 ÷ 100 = 5.40 kg Omena = 8 kg x 55 ÷ 100 = 4.40 kg Maize bran = 10 kg x 7 ÷ 100 = 0.70 kg Lime = 6 kg x 0 ÷ 100 = 0.00 kg (Total crude protein 13.30 kg)
This means in 70 kg bag, the combined ingredients have a total crude protein content of (13.30÷70) x 100 = 19.0 % which is higher than the requirement of 18%.
Feed for chickens meant for meat
Chickens meant for meat production require feed with a higher content of DCP. From the first to the fourth week, the chicks require feed with a DCP content of between 22% to 24%.
Whole maize = 40 kg Omena = 12 kg Soya beans = 14 kg Lime = 4 kg
Whole maize = 40 kg x 8.23 ÷ 100 = 3.20kg Omena = 12 kg x 55 ÷ 100 = 6.60 kg Soya beans = 14 kg x 45 ÷ 100 = 6.30 kg Lime = 4 kg x 0 ÷ 100 = 0.00 kg (Total crude protein 16.10 kg)
This means in 70 kg bag, the combined ingredients have a total crude protein content of (16. 10 ÷ 70) x 100= 23 %. which is higher than the requirement of 22%.
Feed for Kienyeji chicken
Indigenous chickens are less productive in terms of egg and meat increase. Farmers can constitute feeds with a DCP of between 15 – 16 %.
Whole maize = 34 kg Soya bean = 12 kg Omena = 8 kg Maize bran = 10 kg Lime = 6 kg
Whole maize = 34 kg x 8.23 ÷100 = 2.80 kg Soya bean = 12 kg x 45 ÷ 100 = 5.40 kg Omena = 8 kg x 55 ÷ 100 = 4.40 kg Maize bran = 10 kg x 7 ÷ 100 = 0.70 kg Lime = 6 kg x 0 100 = 0.00 kg (Total crude protein 13.30 kg)
This means in 70 kg bag, the combined ingredients have a total crude protein content of(10.68 ÷70) x 100 =15.25 %. which is higher than the requirement of 15%.
To be sure that their feed is of the right quality, farmers can send a sample of the constituted feeds for testing and advice to KARI Naivasha, which has modern equipment for testing feed quality. Results are ready within a day.