Poultry farming is the art of keeping birds for production of meat, eggs, and feathers. In this regard there are several types of chicken to keep such as broilers for meat, layers for eggs, Indigenous chicken for both meat and eggs. You can also venture into poultry farming purely to offer incubation services for hatching and selling day-old chicks.

An aspiring poultry farmer need to make decisions such as whether to do large scale chicken farming or small scale chicken farming, what breeds of chicken to keep and system of chicken farming to adopt such as free-range, deep litter or extensive systems.

Making such decisions can be daunting for a wannabe. EMEDEN being a reliable partner in farming has developed a basic guide on poultry farming to help start-ups to make easy decision to start a poultry farm.

Basic Requirements

  1. Starting Stock:

Aspiring farmers can choose their starting stock from already egg laying chicken and cock within the homestead and grow  the stock to the size they desire by proper feeding to promote healthy egg laying hens and active cocks so they can produce healthy fertilised eggs. They can also buy from a reliable source or hatchery which observes vaccination protocols, deworming and parasite control.

The decision on how many chickens to start with depends on your financial capability. For new farmers it is advisable to start small and grow. The best breakeven point number of chickens to start with is 300. This number will create value in use of inputs

  • Housing

Housing offers them protection against thieves, adverse weather, predators such as dogs, snakes, rats, hawks, and mongoose, as well as shelter for brooding hens and egg laying hens. Therefore, deciding on type of housing is one of the most important decisions a poultry farmer needs to make.

There are factors to consider in constructing a chicken house such as purpose of keeping chicken such as either eggs or meat or both. Another important factor to consider before constructing a chicken house is the characteristics of the selected site. Poultry farmers must consider site factors such as environmental issues like water quality, odours and flies, litter applications on fields and high soil phosphorous levels’; nearby neighbours and public areas like churches, parks and businesses; and laws and regulations that affect farming operations in their area

Selected site must be friendly to neighbours. They should be set back from residences, property lines, public areas, public roads, streams, wells, sinkholes and flood plain. The topography should allow the long axis of the poultry house to be located in an east-west direction to helps to minimize the amount of direct sunlight that would enter through the sidewalls of the houses. Consider prevailing wind direction to avoid wind currents flow from the chicken house toward any residence. Odors from poultry houses must be given adequate time and distance to dissipate before reaching a residence.

Other consideration in housing is availability of utilise like water and electricity, roads, provision for growth and expansion, existence of other buildings like dairy and the utilisation of litter from the chicken house

Depending on the purpose a chicken house must have perches and nest inside the house. Laying nests should be in a quiet place, and the nest and perches should be easy to clean and disinfect to kill parasites.

Chickens on traditional free range poultry farm
  • Food

Feeding is crucial in maximizing the production of eggs and meat in chicken. Depending on housing system selected feeding system must be designed to support and ensure the chicken are well fed.

Fast growth and high egg production is determined by the genetic potential of the chicken as well as the availability of good quality feeds. Proper feeding takes into consideration quality and quantity. Quality refers to the composition of the feed.

A good quality feed contains energy, proteins, mineral salts, trace elements and vitamins in the right proportions. Clean water is part of quality feeding. Quantity refers to the amounts of the above constituents in each of the portions of feed.  Chicken feeding in quantity and quality depend on age and status such as chicks, grower, egg layer and broody hen. A farmer needing to prepare own feed must consult a veterinarian to give them the formulation to use depending on the purpose and age of the chicken.

  • Pests and diseases

An aspiring poultry farmer must be aware of common pests and diseases that affect poultry. Diseases and pests can be frustrating and lead to reduced productivity and high expenses in managing them. Proper nutrition and hygiene will ensure a clean and healthy stock. It is important to adhere to all recommended vaccination to prevent diseases. The most common causes of poultry diseases include bacterial and viral infections, parasites both internal and external, malnutrition, injuries and chemical such as salt poisoning. In case of a disease outbreak, sick birds should be well isolated and dead birds burnt and or buried.

Types of chicken

  1. Pullets, also known as layers, are kept for eggs.
  2. Broilers produce meat. Their growth rate is fast and are ready for the market in 6 weeks.
  3. Cockerels reared for meat just like broilers, but their growth rate is a little slower and ready for the market after six months.
  4. Indigenous Chicken are of more value because of their unique taste of their eggs and meat. They are considered more nutritious and healthier, especially when reared through the free-range or the pastured system.

Chicken Breeds

  1. Improved Kienyeji breeds
    1. KARI kienyeji: This was bred from a range of indigenous chickens in Kenya by KARI now KARLO in Naivasha. There are five distinct types distinguished by their colours, spotted, white, black, brown, and multi-coloured. The chickens produce more eggs and meat than local indigenous chickens and do well in areas with harsh climatic conditions such as the arid and semi-arid regions. The chicken can be reared in free range conditions especially for farmers who want to produce chickens organically. Under ideal conditions they can lay between 220 to 280 eggs a year; and the hen from this breed can attain 1.5kg in 5 months and the cock weighs 2kg over the same period. They have a quiet temperament, excellent feathering and can adapt fast to the conditions under which it is kept compared to other breeds.
  • Kuroiler is a dual-purpose breed that was introduced in Uganda in the year 2009 from Keggs Farms, India. They can survive on free range, but they need to feed continuously, a reason why they put on weight faster than do indigenous chickens; at 4 months Kuroiler chickens can weigh up to 3kg and 4kg in 6 months. Farmers rearing this breed say it has tastier and softer meat compared to indigenous chickens; their eggs are larger than those of indigenous chickens. They can lay between 140-150 eggs in a year. However, Kuroiler’s quality goes down when they are crossed with indigenous chickens. Farmers keeping them say they are good scavengers. They are also resistant to most diseases, but it is advisable to vaccinate. One big disadvantage with Kuroiler chickens is that the hens cannot sit on their eggs to hatch and are therefore suitable only for farmers with incubators. Small- scale farmers in the rural areas who rely on hens to hatch chicks can only order fresh stock of chicks every time they want new stock for breeding.
  • Kenbro is an improved breed from Kenchick. It is a breed that requires less intensive management than hybrid chickens. They are more resistant to diseases than hybrid birds and can survive on free range. On proper feeding the bird matures and starts laying eggs at 5 months. It can attain up to 4kg with proper feeding over the same period. Kenbro is a heavy feeder and this is one reason it can put more weight than other indigenous chickens.
  • The rainbow rooster is a multi-coloured breed originating from India. It is a dual-purpose breed meaning and multi-coloured. They are low input bird which can be put on free range but are heavy feeders, able to put on weight fast attaining 3kg to 4kg in 6 months. The Rainbow Rooster hen cannot sit on the eggs to hatch; so, farmers who want to keep this breed must have an incubator for hatching.
  • Sasso chicken is a breed that was established in Sabret, France in 1978, by Selection Avicole de la Sartha and Sud Quest, a major player in France’s chicken breeding business that supplies genetics for birds. It is a dual-purpose bird that grow faster gaining live weight 2.2kg to 2.4kg in 84 days, with delicious and tender meat and strong disease resistance. Sasso chickens are free-range, affordable, easy to raise which proves to be a profitable livelihood venture. They graze around the field, or backyard running around, and eating grass, corn, leaves and other natural ingredients. Sasso chickens can be raised for meat and are good layers, laying about 170-171 eggs yearly when they reach six months of age.
  • Best egg laying hybrids breeds that start as early as 17 weeks or later as 26 weeks
    • Hyline Brown
    • California White
    • Golden Comet
    • Cherry Egger
    • Indian River
    • Leghorns
    • White-faced Black Spanish
    • Rhode Island Reds
    • Australorps
    • Rhode Island Whites
    • Plymouth Rocks
    • Hy-line Brown
    • Golden Comets
    • ISA Browns
    • Cinammon Queens
    • Brown Sex Links
    • Jersey Giants
    • Australorps
    • Plymouth Rocks
    • Orpigonts
    • Rhode Island Reds
  • Best meat producing hybrid breeds. Broilers are chicken raised specifically for meat. They grow very fast compared to the egg laying or the dual-purpose breed. Most of them have a high growth rate with high feeds convention and minimal activity. In five weeks broilers can reach a weight of upto 2 to 4 kg
    • Cornish Cross
    • Jersey Giant
    • Delaware
    • Bukeye
    • Bresse
    • Orpington
    • Freedom rangers
  • Dual Purpose Hybrids
    • Brown leghorn
    • Egyptian Fayoumi
    • Turken
    • Chantecler




Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *