How to Start Poultry Farming? [Everything You Need to Know]

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Poultry farming is primarily understood as the breeding of chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Poultry provides high-quality main items such as eggs and meat, but they also have side products like manure and feathers. The poultry organism is a large processor of the nutrients of feed into eggs and meat.

Laying hen 5 pounds of live weight, which produces 290 eggs per year, excludes 40 pounds of egg mass from its organism, consuming about 9 pounds of the mixture. In a very short time, the poultry spring is ready for slaughter. Modern hybrids achieve a live weight of 5 to 5 pounds by 5 to 6 weeks of age, with the excellent conversion of the mixture from 4 to 4.5 pounds per pound of growth. Chickens are suitable for slaughter as early as 12 to 16 weeks, when they reach a live weight of 10 to 14 pounds, a duckling of 7 to 8 months, with a mass of 6.5 to 8 pounds, and gooseberries of 10 to 12 weeks and weighing from 9 to 14 pounds.

If you were wondering is poultry farming a good and profitable business, go read our article on that subject.

Poultry meat

Poultry meat has a higher nutritional value than the meat of other domestic animals due to its higher content of essential amino acids and less connective tissue. We distinguish between poultry with white meat (chicken, turkey) and poultry with dark meat (duck, goose). Of the by-products, feathers of poultry are used in the manufacture of bedding, clothing, and decorative items. Goose feathers, ducks, and other poultry species are most appreciated.

Feathers, along with other debris when slaughtered such as blood and gut, can be processed into valuable protein feed. Poultry manure contains more nitrogen, potassium, sodium, and other compounds that are important for plant growth and is therefore used in horticulture and floriculture.

Poultry origins

Chickens originate from four native forms of wild chickens, namely Gallus sonneratii, Gallus ferrugineus, Gallus varius, and Gallus bankiva. Gallus bankiva still lives on the Pacific islands today. According to the zoological classification, the hen is a class of bird (Aves), order (Galliformes), family pheasant (Phasanidae), genus (Gallus), and species of hen (Gallopavo). The turkeys are of wild turkey origin, native to Mexico (Meleagris gallopavo) and belonging to the genus Meleagris.

This is the latest domesticated poultry. It was only domesticated in the 16th century and transferred from America to Europe. The domestic goose originates from the wild goose Anser cinereus. The wild goose is a migratory birds resident in Europe and one part of Asia. Geese have been domesticated in Egypt about 4,000 years ago. Domestic duck originates from wild duck or Anas boschas. Wild ducks are domesticated in China, which is today the largest producer of duck meat.

Poultry breeds

Breeds of hens are divided into ornamental and dwarf breeds, fighters, light breeds, heavy breeds, and combined. Combined breeds are especially important for meat production, while light breeds are important in egg production. Heavy breeds and fighters are involved in the creation of combined breeds. The most famous light breeds in the world are Leghorn, Italian hen, Minorca, Andalusian breed, and others. Combined breeds include Rhode Island, New Hampshire, White Rock, Plymouth Rock, Sussex, Croat. However, today’s modern poultry production is based on the production of hybrids.

Turkey breeds are also divided into light breeds, medium-heavy breeds, and heavy breeds. Light breeds include Beltsville Small White and England minipur. Medium-heavy breeds include White Holland, Norfolk Black, and other breeds. The Group of heavy turkeys includes American bronze turkey and wide-bodied white turkey.

Goose breeds are divided into light, medium and heavy breeds. The Italian white breed and the Canadian breed belong to the group of light breeds. Medium-heavy breeds include Rhine goose, Chinese goose, Pomeranian. In the heavy breeds Toulouse goose and Emden goose.

Feeding poultry

Due to the specific structure and function of the digestive system of poultry, feeding differs from other animals, so the high-quality concentrated feed is used in poultry. Poultry digest carbohydrates almost over 90% and protein and fat between 80 and 90%. The growth of chickens, where thanks to the high efficiency of food utilization, is very intense. Thus, broilers for 4 to 4.2 pounds of food produce 2.2. pounds of live weight over the age of 35 days. After 6 weeks of fattening, chickens increase their live weight by 55 times the first day of life.

The feeds mostly used in poultry feeding are the common cereals, they represent a great source of energy, and in order of importance in poultry feeding, their order is as follows: corn, wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Corn is very energy efficient, tasty, poultry is happy to consume it and has a beneficial effect on skin pigmentation in chickens and egg yolks. Other cereals such as wheat and barley and oats have less energy and digestibility than corn. Barley has a beneficial effect on meat quality. Oats are added to poultry mixtures when we want to reduce the energy value of the meal and to prevent the occurrence of cannibalism.

Of the protein feed of plant origin, the soybean is the highest quality so the poultry feed often uses soybean cake, which can be replaced by sunflower cake or shot. Corn gluten, which contains 40 to 45% crude protein, can also be used. Feed mixtures are produced and marketed as complete feeds and feed additives.

Complete feed mixtures are:

  • Initial feed for fattening chickens I (up to 4 weeks)
  • Feed mixture for fattening chickens in growth II (5-7 weeks)
  • Final feed for fattening chickens III (5 days before slaughter, without coccidiostats)
  • Poultry feed mix for breeding poultry I
  • Poultry feed mix for breeding poultry II
  • Poultry rearing compound for breeding poultry III
  • Feed mixture for consumer laying hens
  • Feed mixture for breeding hens I
  • Feed mixture for breeding hens II
  • Initial feed for turkeys (up to 4 weeks)
  • Growing and fattening chicken mixture I (5 – 8 weeks)
  • Growing and fattening chicken mixture II (9 – 12 weeks)
  • Feed for turkeys in fattening I (13 – 16 weeks)
  • Feed for turkeys in fattening II (from the 17th week to the end of fattening)
  • Feed for growing turkeys (from 13 weeks to laying)
  • Forage for purebred laying hens
  • Forage for breeding and fattening ducklings (up to 3 weeks)
  • Feed mixture for fattening ducklings (4 – 8 weeks)
  • Duck feed (4 – 20 weeks)
  • Feed mixture for laying ducks

Supplementary feed mixtures:

  • Supplementary compound feed for breeding and fattening of chickens
  • Supplementary feed for laying hens

The feeding of laying hens for consumption and breeding eggs is very similar, except that laying hens for breeding eggs need more vitamins and trace elements. An important factor in egg production is the feeding regime both in the breeding of chicks and at the beginning of egg production. Chicks with a pronounced appetite for breeding are lagging behind in body weight development and, after reaching the peak of the egg production curve, exhibit a rapid decline in laying performance by 5-8%. It can be seen that the improper feeding of chickens during growth affects later egg production.

Therefore, energy intake in the form of a certain amount of a mixture that provides sustained needs, growth, as well as the creation of certain energy reserves in the form of fat deposition is essential. Consumption of food depends on body weight, ambient temperature, energy level, and balance of the feed mixture. The feeding of laying hens for the production of table eggs is carried out according to the standards of the companies whose hybrids we use, and special attention is paid in the first weeks of inactivity, that is, at the time of reaching the sexual and physical maturity of the pullet.

Feeding broiler chickens is based on three mixtures that differ in nutrient concentration, and as you desire feeding is applied. Feeding the turkey is done through certain mixtures, which again depends on the purpose and type of cultivation. Forage turkeys contain more protein and certain amino acids, then selenium, biotin, choline, as well as vitamins A, D, and E than forage for chickens.

In the first four weeks, the geese are fed intensively with 20 to 22% protein in the first four weeks, and from 5 to 12-16 weeks, and until 15-16% protein, until the slaughter. Laying goose feed on a mixture containing 15-16% protein, while the goose liver production program is carried out by intensive rearing of geese for up to 12 weeks, followed by forced feeding to induce fatty liver degeneration.

Extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive breeding is used in keeping the ducks and the feeding method is adjusted accordingly. In extensive mode, ducks are kept outdoors and find most of the food there. In semi-intensive breeding, it is a combination of keeping in cages and in outlets where they are fed in combination with forage and green mass. In intensive breeding, ducks are kept in controlled conditions and fed only at forage at will.

Poultry breeding

All types of poultry are propagated by means of eggs. In order to develop an embryo from an egg, eggs must be fertilized. In poultry, we distinguish between the production of non-fertilized table eggs and the breeding flock whose eggs have been fertilized.

Chickens are maximized in egg production in the first year of production, and then laying is reduced by 20-30% in the second year and by 31-45% in the third year. This is why they are used for one year in intensive production. The situation is similar for turkeys and ducks, while for geese, incubation increases with age. Geese are therefore used in production for 3 to 5 years.

The sexual maturity of the female poultry is related to laying, and the males to the beginning of breeding exploitation, and occurs differently depending on the type of poultry. Sexual maturity of light hen types occurs from 4.5 to 5 months of age and heavy types from 5.5 to 6 months. In turkeys, the sexual maturity of the light types occurs from 7.5 to 8 months of age, and the heavy types from 8 to 8.5 months. Geese reach sexual maturity from 9 to 10 months of age, and ducks from 5 to 6 months.

Factors affecting the quality and quantity of breeding eggs

Important factors affecting the quality and quantity of breeding eggs are the ratio of males and females, flock health, treatment against infectious diseases, flock age, arrangement, and the number of nests, as well as the collection, storage and sorting, and disinfection of breeding eggs.

Egg fertilization can range from 60 to 99%. Fertilization depends on the type of poultry, the season, the feeding of the flock, and the ratio of female to male heads. In practice, we find the fertilization of chicken eggs 95%, of turkeys 85%, and of ducks and geese of 80 to 85%. The ratio of females to males is very important. So one male goes for 15 laying hens, 10 medium-weight laying hens, 10-12 turkeys, 3 to 5 geese, and 5 to 7 ducks. Egg planting can be done naturally and artificially.

Chicken Egg Development

The development of chickens in an egg takes 21 days. As a rule, eggs of a clean shell are always planted and the weight of the egg must be taken into account. Fresh eggs are planted up to 4 days of age because prolonged egg holding results in a decline in hatching success.

Under the hen, we can plant 10-15 eggs, turkey 13-19, goose 11 to 15, while ducks are reluctant to sit on eggs. Turkeys sit best on eggs, and up to 25 chicken eggs can be planted under them. During the sitting, the female rises from the eggs daily 1 to 2 times a day for feeding. After the twenty-first day, the chicks hatch.

They are then removed under the hen, placed in a separate area where they dry, and the shell is removed from the nest. Then a check is carried out. If the egg has not been fertilized, such an egg is referred to as an “eggnog”. When the chickens are dried they are put under the hen again.

The purpose of artificial egg-laying is to produce one-day-old hatchlings using an incubator. These are egg-embedded devices that are built to provide conditions for embryo development. Incubators are divided into single, multi-layer, and selected ones. For single-layered eggs, they stack in a single row, with warming done only from the top. This type of incubator is characterized by low capacity and the eggs are turned manually. In multi-layered incubators, the eggs are stacked in multiple layers, and heating is done from all sides.

The multilayer incubator is divided into a pre-roller and a hatchery, which differ in incubation conditions. In the pre-hatchery, the eggs are incubated from day 1 to day 18, and on day 19, they are moved to the hatchery where they reside until hatching. Egg rotation is done automatically, and these incubators have a capacity of 10,000 to 150,000 eggs. The selection incubator consists of several single-layer incubators interconnected into one unit and with a unique source of heating. Their capacity is usually from 10,000 to 30,000 eggs.

Production of chickens

Chicken production today is oriented towards the production of eggs for consumption or breeding and the production of fattening chickens.

Production of table eggs

Light chicken hybrids are used to produce consumable eggs that are not fertilized and are therefore only bred to the female spring. Chicks are grown cage or on the floor (deep litter), and it is recommended to breed laying hens in the way the chicks are kept. Selection companies have produced high-performance light hybrids that they carry at 18 weeks of age. For profitable and continuous egg production, optimal microclimatic conditions must be ensured.

The housing temperature should be from 64 to 72 °F and the optimal humidity should be from 65 to 75%. The maximum allowable values ​​for harmful gases in the poultry house are 0.01% by volume for ammonia, 0.001% for hydrogen sulfide, and 0.35% for carbon dioxide. These microclimate conditions are maintained mostly by artificial ventilation.

Lighting is one of the most important factors in egg production. The length of light matches the age and bodyweight of the poultry. Thus, Hisex Brown laying hens at the age of 16 weeks have an average mass of 3 pounds and then light stimulation of 10 h begins, while at the peak of production they weigh about 4 pounds at the age of 25 weeks and their light regime lasts from 14 to 16 h.

Three mixtures are used in breeding chickens, the starter for the first three weeks, Grover I from 4 to 9 weeks, and Grover II from 10-16 weeks. From the 17th week, a mixture is introduced to start laying. It is important to note that white and brown eggs are produced which depends on the amount of protoporphyrin pigment. Consumers in our area prefer eggs with brown husks.

Production of hatching eggs

Heavy hybrids of hens are used to produce hatching eggs. In order to achieve high egg-laying and fertilization, it is important to properly breed chicks. By this term, we mean animals between the ages of 18 and 19 weeks. By the 20th week of life, the young are bred divided by sexes, and after the 20th week, flocks are formed.

The goal of breeding chicks is to achieve flock uniformity and optimal body weight when entering sexual maturity. Thus, chickens are accepted to poultry which is heated to a temperature of 95 °F, and the temperature drops from 32 to 32.5 °F every day. when chickens are 28 days old, the housing temperature may be 64. °F. The light regime is also important for the development of chicks, as irregularities can lead to the early laying of eggs. Smaller eggs are produced, laying is lower, mortality is higher, and laying life is shorter. Two mixtures with different nutrient content are used to feed the young. The most famous breeding egg hybrids are Ross, Avian, Cobb, Arbor Acres, Hybro and Lohmann.

Egg-laying hens are grown on the floor (deep litter or rubber floor). Chickens are already getting used to the 17th-week-long laying mixture until egg production of 5% is reached, and after that stage, they move on to the laying mixture. The mixture must contain 15-16% protein. In addition, care must be taken of the amino acid composition of the mixture and the contents of Ca and P. The eggs are picked up twice a day and classified, and one nest per four laying hens must be provided. The production is carried by laying hens up to 64 weeks of age, with peak production reaching around 31 weeks.

Fattening chickens

Hybrid selection is the most important choice for fattening chickens. The fattening of the chickens 20 years ago lasted about 60 days and the chickens gained 3 to 3.3 pounds with a food conversion of 5 to 5.7 pounds. Today, chickens are fattened on average from 35 to 42 days, where they achieve a mass of 4 to 5 pounds and have a conversion of 3.5 to 3.7 pounds. Extended fattening may also be used, although it is avoided due to the increased accumulation of subcutaneous fat. The basic principle to be kept in breeding chickens is “everything inside-everything out.”

After each turn, it is obligatory to rest the object for 14 days and during that period the object is cleaned, washed, and disinfected. Newly arrived chickens are placed in enclosures under an artificial hen (heat body). The fences are made of various materials with a height of 20 to 24 inches. Guarding fence expands with the growth of the chickens. At the beginning of the fattening, a 1 to 2 inches thick litter is also installed, and mostly wood chips, sawdust, or straw are used. After the first 14 days, the chickens should triple their weight. In the chickens’ housing, the microclimate must be adjusted.

The air composition and amount of gases should be 16% for O2, N maximum 85%, NH3 0.002%, CO2 maximum 0.25%, CO 0.004%, H2S 0.0005%, and relative humidity 50 to 70%. The chickens come to the facility and are placed under an artificial hen where the temperature must be 90 °F, and then every next week the temperature drops by 35.6 °F It is important to illuminate an object that can be natural or artificial. Fattening chickens is done as you desire, using three ready-made mixtures. with different nutritional compositions.

These are the starter from day 1 to day 10 of fattening with 22 to 24% protein, the finisher 1 from day 11 to day 22 of fattening with 21 to 23% protein, and the finisher 2 used until the end of fattening with 19 to 21% protein. Separate fattening by gender is advised by all fattening companies, due to differences in performance during fattening.

Production of turkey

Turkey is used today for meat production. The cultivation of turkeys begins with the reproduction of breeding young, which are grown up to 28 weeks. At first, they are kept separate by sex, and after 28 weeks flocks are formed. After the formation of the flock, egg production begins, which starts at 32 to 33 weeks, and 80 to 100 eggs can be produced by laying hens. The fertilization of turkey eggs ranges from 85 to 90% and the hatchability from 75 to 80%. Thus, 60 to 75 one-day-old turkeys are obtained per hen.

Industrial fattening of turkey requires the keeping of breeds or hybrids characterized by rapid growth, good utilization of food, and excellent meat quality. the light type of turkey is fattened for 12 to 14 weeks, during which time it reaches a mass of 9 to 10 pounds. In the medium-heavy type, turkeys are fattened for 12 to 14 weeks and heavy turkeys for 16 to 18 weeks. At the end of fattening, turkeys have 9 to 10 pounds of live weight and turkey-cock have 15 to 20 pounds.

Heavy-weight females are fattened for 16 to 20 weeks, reaching a weight of 15 to 18 pounds, and males are fattened for 18 to 24 weeks, or to a live weight of 25 to 30 pounds. The fattening chickens feed on complete feeds: initial, growth mixture, final 1, and final 2. Housing conditions should be optimal. The temperature for the first week under artificial hen should be 95 to 100 °F and gradually decreased every week. Thus the temperature of the sixth week is reduced to 68 to 72 °F and kept until the end of fattening. Optimal humidity is 65 to 75%.

Production of geese

Geese are grown for the production of meat, liver, and feathers. It is possible to organize production in three directions, namely fattening of young geese (broilers), breeding of adult geese, and production of feathers and fattening of adult geese and fattening for the liver. Broiler fattening can be extensive, semi-intense, and intense. In extensive mode, green fodder and pastures are used as food in the summer, and in winter, the foliage is fed with corn kernels. Semi-intensive fattening is fattening in discharge facilities.

Feeding is based on ready-to-feed mixtures, and during the fattening period, the saplings reach a mass of 9 to 11 pounds. They are slaughtered from 10 to 12 weeks of age. Geese are bred for five to six months when they reach a mass of 10 pounds and can tolerate forcing and abundant feeding. Chosen specimens are kept indoors and transferred to pasture for intensive feeding. In fattening geese for the liver, the specimens go through three periods. During the first period, they receive more volume and corn, after which the geese begin to germinate with a specific appliance.

Initially, they are gavaged three times a day and later four times. The duration of fattening depends on the age and weight of the geese, but on average it lasts about a month. The weight of the goose liver at the end of fattening can range from 0.5 to 3 pounds. In the production of feathers, the first picking of geese is performed at the age of 8 – 10 weeks. After the first plucking, subsequent plucking of the feathers is possible 2 to 3 times with intervals of 6 to 7 weeks. Feather picking is carried out at the end of laying and at the time of molting.

Duck production

Ducks are mainly made for meat and slightly less for the production of table eggs. Broiler fattening lasts from the first to the 49th day and can take place on the floor or in cages. The ducklings are kept under an artificial hen for the first three weeks and can accommodate up to 500 ducklings. Initially, they require a temperature of 90 to 95 °F, and after three weeks until the end of fattening, the temperature must be 60 to 64 °F.

The relative humidity of the building should be from 65 to 75%. From day 1 to day 14, the ducklings feed with a starter, from 15 to 28 days a Grover mixture, and from the 29th to the end of fattening with a finisher. The final weights in the fattening of the duckling range from 7 to 8 pounds. In addition to meat, ducks can also be used to make duck liver. As with geese, forced feeding or ticking is also carried out here. At the end of fattening, the ducks weigh 10 to 11 pounds, and the liver mass ranges from 0.9 to 1.3 pounds.