Category Archives: Poultry Farming

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.feed

 

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.

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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.

CALL Ecochicks Poultry on 0727087285

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To farm 1000 layers is not a joke. You need  to automate  as many tasks as possible

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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

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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

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Local chicken feeders and drinkers to minimize costs

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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.sexing day old chick

Vent sexing

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.
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Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle with very high  proteins for your livestockbeetle

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

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.

Step 6: Collect Your Mealworms

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.

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  1. 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

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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)

Calculations

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

Calculations

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

Calculations

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.

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Are you worried about how to get funds to start or expand your poultry business? The best way to get funding for your poultry farm is to go as a group. You can join a group of poultry farmers or form one in your area; that way, it would be easier to get the attention of lenders. Some sources of capital for your poultry farm include

1. Agricultural finance cooperation it is a wholly owned Government Development Finance Institution (DFI). It provides loans to groups of individuals agriculture

2. Women Enterprise Fund is a Semi-Autonomous Government Agency in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth & Gender Affairs established in August 2007, to provide accessible and affordable credit to support women start and/or expand business for wealth and employment creation.

3. Youth Enterprise Development Fund  Provide loans for on-lending to youth enterprises

4. SACCOs  Start saving in a SACCO and you can apply for small low interest loans

5. Local Banks  Most of the local banks have loans tailored for  agricultural business

6. Online Lenders e.g https://www.kiva.org/, https://www.zidisha.org  You need to provide a clear write up to get a lender. Always be cautious with online lending sites.

 

7. Check research institutes and NGO’S Another place to search for grants is through research institute or other agencies that collaborate with the government. Such companies usually carry out projects that aim to help farmers achieve success. You may be lucky enough to qualify for grants under one of such schemes.

8. Write a Brilliant Proposal-: There are some organizations that have calls for funding proposals in Agriculture e.g USAID/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine

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Poultry farming is profitable alright, but a lot of people still fail and incur lots of losses in this business all the same. A lot of investors have blamed themselves for going into the business.

Every business has its ‘trade secrets’ and a lot of people fail in business because they do not know the trade secrets of their business. Poultry, just like any other business out there has its trade secrets which you have to know to increase your chances at success.
1. Start small.: Don’t start large scale poultry farming if you are inexperienced in the business. Don’t read about how people are making millions from poultry farming and then go ahead to invest your life savings into the business or  go and obtain loans to start a business you are inexperienced at. For a business like poultry farming, you have to start small and then expand gradually as your business grows and demands for your products increase. You should also do a proper feasibility study before you go into the business. If there are too many competitors or if the supply for poultry products exceeds the demand in your area, then look for somewhere else to start your business or look for another business to start. There are several other lucrative businesses in the livestock farming industry that you can consider.

2. Consider Meat Packaging and Production-: A lot of people get their poultry products from grocery stores and supermarkets. Very few people still buy live animals because they feel it is less stressful when you buy already packaged meat which you can use to make your meal in few minutes. Therefore, you should really consider having your own meat production and packaging business to sell the products from your farm.

Once you have your poultry farm, starting a meat packaging company is fairly easy. Just create a space for butchering and cleaning the animals, hire butchers and buy equipment that would make the job mechanized and faster, some refrigerators and then approach food regulatory agencies in your area for a license and boom! You are ready to start packaging your own meat.

3. Have your own sales outlet-: Another way to expand your poultry business is to have your own sales outlet and not rely only on supplying to retailers. You don’t have to have too many sales outlets; you can start with just one. You can sell your own branded chickens and chicken parts and fresh eggs to consumers.

4. Offer Mobile Sales and Delivery Services-: Twenty-four hours in a day is just not enough for most of us because of the kind of busy lives we lead. Now, imagine having to cook, shop for groceries, tend to the kids and do all sort of other house chores and still maintain a 9-5 job. It’s really not easy for a lot of working parents and this is why mobile sales and delivery services always works. A lot of people see such services as a live saving one; a service that brings you necessities without dealing with stress and traffic. With a van or two, you are ready to start offering such services within your area and that is also an expansion of your income.

5. Employ sales representatives-: Don’t think that your business is too small to employ sales reps or that poultry business is not serious enough to have sales representatives. Right here in my office, I have someone who brings me fresh eggs weekly and frozen chicken when I feel like having chicken.

She’s a sales rep and earns commission for each item she sells. I have also been able to introduce her to my colleague and friends who also buy from her regularly. Now, her employer is a very smart poultry farmer because even when I buy from the grocery store, I only buy their products. Having a sales representative is a good way to increase awareness for your products and increase sales too.

6. Have your own Hatchery-: Instead of purchasing day old chicks, it’s more cost effective to have your own hatchery for hatching new chicks. You would be able to reduce the costs of hatching and also increase output compared to outsourcing the service to other people.

7. Produce your own feed-: Another tip for growing your poultry business is to have your own feed mill for producing chicken feed. Chicken feed production is not so hard; if you can learn how to raise chickens, then you can learn how to produce chicken feed and if you are able to reduce the costs of producing feed, you would be able to increase on the overall profitability of your business.

8. Employ Experienced Staff-: Another way to grow your poultry business is to employ people who are experienced to handle the operational aspects of the business. If you have a really large poultry farm, you can employ business consultants to suggest ways through which you can expand your poultry business.

9. Take Stock regularly-: You should also keep an eye on the output from your farm. You should have a store where eggs are stored and have some people who would be in charge of stock keeping and counting the chickens regularly. This would help to prevent thefts.

10. Apply for Government Grants-: Agriculture is something that the government is always interested in. And that is why there are a lot of support programs for investors in the agricultural sector. Such support programs come in the form of government backed loans and grants. You should look out for such grants and apply for them.

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  • The materials which are used should be:
    • durable (lasting)chicken house
    • easy to handle and easy to repair if damaged
    • readily available and as cheap as possible

Building and repairs should preferably be carried out by the poultry farm itself in order to reduce costs.

  • The width of the house should generally not exceed 9 metres when only natural ventilation is used. The length depends on the number of chickens that is going to be kept and the available building space.

The height of the poultry house should not be less than 2 metres anywhere in order to make the house easily accessible everywhere (without stooping). Moreover it provides more volume to the house resulting in a better air quality.

  • The floor should be made of concrete (this is the ideal floor for a chicken house because it is easy to clean) or be filled with 50 cm (sharp) sand. Wire netting should be placed under and around a floor made of sand in order to keep rats and other predators out.
  • In hot climates at least 3 sides should be open (wire netting!) in order to have enough fresh air (ventilation) for the chickens.

By means of boards or mats the sides may be temporarily and partially closed when there are young chickens inside.

  • The roof should protect the chickens against direct sunlight and rain and for that reason it should extend the walls for about 50 cm beyond the wall. The roof may be ridged or slope to one side. If the roof is ridged, this ridge should be open to permit heat to escape (the natural ventilation is im-proved by the stack effect).
  • The chickens should be protected against too much heat during the day. For that purpose a heat insulating layer may be installed under the roof. However, this is relatively expensive and gener-ally not very effective.

Materials which insulate rather well are cotton fibre board, PVC and certain plant materials such as palm leaves.

The canopy of tall trees can also cast shade on the roof.

  • Besides space for the birds, every (relatively large) chicken house should have
    • an entrance room, where people can change footwear and clothing and wash their hands before they go to the birds. Disinfection must take place here;
    • a feedstore with enough space for the feed that is needed for the birds for one or two weeks; dryness should be ensured as feed spoils rapidly in moist conditions.
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Disease  Age  Vaccine Name  Method of administartion Estimate price 
Marek’s  1 day Marek  subcutaneously injection  ksh 3500/1000doses
 Newcastle/infectious bronchitis  7th day  NCD+IB  Drinking water ksh 500/1000 doses
 Bursal disease(Gumboro)  14th  Bursal disease(Gumboro)  Drinking water  ksh 650/1000 doses
 Bursal disease(Gumboro)  21st  Bursal disease(Gumboro)  Drinking water
Newcastle/infectious bronchitis  35th  NCD+IB  Drinking wate  ksh 500/1000 doses
 fowl typhoid  56th  fowl typhoid  intramascular injection  ksh 400/1000 doses
 fowl pox  70th  fowl pox  wing stab  ksh 700/1000 doses

Other common poultry diseases

 Disease  Drug  Method of administration   Estimate price 
 Coccidiosis  Amprolium  Water  ksh 2500/kg
 Worms  piperazine  Water  ksh 2000/kg

Disease symptoms 

  • Marek disease

Marek’s disease occurs as the nervous form, appearing as a progressive paralysis of one or more of the limbs. The birds are unable to stand, become paralysed, appear uncoordinated and slowly waste away from lack of food and water. In most cases the paralysis comes on quickly. In some cases the eyes may be affected, resulting in blindness.

  • Gumboro

The feathers around the vent are usually stained with faeces containing plenty of urates.Also, diarrhoea, anorexia, depression, ruffled feathers, especially in the region of the head and the neck are present.

  • Coccidiosis

Infected birds or chicks become droopy, look unthrifty, and usually have ruffled feathers, pale beaks and shanks.  Caecal coccidiosis has bloody droppings.  Mortality may be high and sudden

  • Fowl chorela

There is yellowish colouration on birds’ droppings, which is followed by yellowish or greenish diarrhoea.  Infected birds become droopy, feverish and sleepy. The birds also sit with the head down or turned backwards or rested in feathers about the wing.

  • Fowl typhoid

Ruffled feathers, paleness of the head drooping comb, loss of appetite and pale orange coloured diarrhoea.

  • New Castle Disease

In chicks, gasping coughing and sneezing is observed and ater nervous systems.  Birds may be seen sitting on their back hock joints; others may walk backwards; or in circles; or hind their head between their legs.

  • Fowl Pox

It is characterized by typical pox lesions in the form of wart-like scabs on the face, comb and wattles.

NB. The above prices only serve as estimates and help in planning. Consult with your local vet in case of any of the above symtoms and before administering any drug to you flock

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