Owing to the increasing demand for chicken, eggs and the quest for self employment, many people are turning to poultry farming with mixed results. Some have succeeded while due to poor planning, others have failed. They have failed due to their failure to plan. If you are planning or you are already into poultry farming and you wish to grow it big, there are factors you need to consider.
Type of birds: One of the factors one has to consider is the type of birds one wants to keep. This is vital as other factors are dependent on it. The housing system, feeds, equipment and facilities the farmer may require for this venture are dependent on the type of birds to be kept. Chicken can be kept for their eggs or meat (layers or broilers) and recently, huge interest has grown for indigenous chickens. As such, one has to decide upfront what his/her interests are.
Housing: It is said that by building a good housing system, one solves more than 40% of all poultry rearing problems. Chicken must be shielded from hostile weather conditions such as cold, rain, sun and wind. Safety from predators should also be considered in putting up a house unit. Snakes, rodents, foxes, dogs, mongoose and other animals are chickens’ enemies. It is therefore important to confine them in modern structures. The housing unit should have perches for the chicken to roost on at night.
A poultry shed should be sufficiently ventilated to allow in enough oxygen for the birds. Wire mesh can be used for the walls of the shed and it is vital that the number of birds do not exceed the space capacity of the shed. Overpopulation affects the birds’ health and increases disease incidences. On average, stocking density should be five birds per square meter for layers and ten to eleven for broilers.
A traditional brooding basket known as liuli can be used as a brooder for chicks either inside or outside the house. This is because chicks should be kept away from the chickens.
Equipment and facilities: With the housing, it is also important that it is fitted with the necessary poultry equipment and facilities. This is supposed to be done before the chickens are brought. Some of the necessary equipments include; feeders, drinkers, culling cage (for sick birds), heat source (for chicks), egg crates (for layer) and so on. Based on the type and number of birds you choose to keep, you need to buy sufficient equipments in advance before getting the chickens.
Source of chickens and Selection of the breeding stock: for the initial starting up, you may decide to either buy chicks from suppliers or hatch them yourself. In the latter, one has to have an incubator. There are different places to get incubators for hatching eggs in Kenya. The decision for your source is dependent on capital available, incubator capacity, location in Kenya among others. You can get a poultry incubator through the following ways; buy from an eggs incubator supplier in Kenya – locally made machines or import your own incubator. Locally, incubators may be purchased at KARI centres.
On the other hand, one may decide to multiply his flock especially for indigenous poultry. In this case, one factor to consider is careful selection of the chickens and cocks to ensure only better qualities are passed on. Select a hen that is broody, does not abandon her eggs during hatching and looks after her chicks well. Select a healthy, strong cock and a cock should be allowed only ten hens.
The third option is buying a day old chicks. These can be purchased prom supplies countrywide but we’d recommend the KARI centre in Naivasha. We’ll continue looking at more factors next month.