Poultry farming is a business venture in Nigeria that can help you to make decent amount of money when done properly but only a few are into this business. I will be explaining in details here how to convert your efforts into more sales and more money.Before I proceed, I assumed that you have started making money in poultry and that you intend to grow your business, nevertheless, if you are just about starting out, this will serve as a guide to you to increase your income even as a starter.
The steps to making more profit in poultry farming can be divided into different phases, I will divide them into:
- Getting the day old chicks
- Brooding the chicks
- Making of your own poultry feeds
- Growing the birds to maturity
- Marketing the birds
Though I will be concentrating on broilers, most of the steps are applicable to layers and other types of poultry business such turkey.
Table of Contents
Getting the day old chicks
The first secret to making profit starts the day you buy your day old chicks. If you normally buy when the birds have been brooded for few weeks, you are already cutting the income you can get if you were to brood them yourself. You make more profit when you brood them yourself than when you buy the brooded chicks. Brooding is a simple process that can be done easily but if you really have no time for brooding, why did you in the first place choose to start poultry farming? My advice to those who want to go into poultry farming is that if you are not ready to grow them from day one to maturitythen do not go into the business.
When I first started rearing broilers, no one told me all these, I got to know it myself. After I brooded my first set of chickens, I compared them with the ones I bought when I first started out that were already brooded, but the difference was much that I made up my mind to always do it myself. Do you think those that brood and sell are not making profit? For every step of having to buy something in poultry business that you avoid, the more money you get to save and the more money you will make.
Secondly, you must take care to get the good breed of chicks which means the fast growing and healthy birds. Most times, poultry farmers do overlook this aspect because they think the birds are the same. When you have the wrong birds, you will run at a loss and not make even a small amount of profit. It is a painful thing to put in efforts for months only to end up with failure. The case is worst with layers because they are reared for a longer time than the broilers, hence they are at risk for infections and other health hazards. Some very bad breeds are resistant to drugs and no matter the drug you give to them, they will still die and it is a painful thing to see a bird die not to talk of having to bury them every day. Sometimes you keep cooking them for your dog everyday that a dog will even hate to eat the birds again. In order to avoid this, get a good breed. Do not worry, I will show you how to identify the good and healthy birds. So always take care when buying the birds.
How to knowa healthy day old chick
A healthy chick can be seen physically, below are the signs of a healthy chick.
- A healthy chick can jump around no matter the cold, they love to eat and so the move about a lot. They seem to be restless. If you find any chick that prefers lying when others are eating, the chick is likely unhealthy. The unhealthy ones are seen closing their eyes even when they are standing. You know how a sick human being looks, chickens too manifest like that, they lose appetite, they become weak. So observe the chicks very well to ensure they are healthy. Do not buy any chick that drools saliva or does not walk well. Any bird with a deformity is not good. Deformity affects their growth, a bird that cannot walk well will not eat well because others will push it and it will not grow well.
- Do not buy a chick that has swellings on the head ( around the eyes, on the beak or a swollen leg).
- A healthy chick will be able to stand on the feet when you lie it on its back. Unhealthy birds cannot do this and they are seen struggling to stand up.
- A healthy chick eats a lot, you do not have to force it to eat. They jump around and try to look for food.
- A healthy chick cries out loud. Its voice is high pitch and it makes noise even while eating. Unhealthy ones cry with a low voice and sometimes they only cry when you touch them.
If your chicks do not show any good signs, return them. Do not buy them because if you do, you have started your business of loss already.
Brooding the chicks
Brooding refers to raising chicks from day old to about 2 weeks old. This is a delicate period and it requires care just like the way you care for a baby. The chicks only know how to eat and drink , when you bring them from the hatchery, they need food and water immediately. If you do not give them shelter, food and water, you will start recording your mortality count. One woman had bought chicks and left them at the back seat in her car. She entered the market on her way home to buy some food stuffs before going home, but before she came back, all the chicks had died. She loss close to thirty thousand naira (30,000) within a day. That is because she left them without water and the sun was directly heating them, they started matching on one another and some died as a result of stampede while others died due to the heat and lack of water and food. It is therefore good to prepare their place first before coming to pick them from the hatchery. Remember that at the hatchery, they have not eaten and so once you subject them to the stress of packing into the cartons, transporting them, transferring them into their permanent house etc. all these processes cause stress in the chicks. It is recommended therefore that you give glucose and vitamin solution to the birds to drink immediately you bring them from the hatchery (This solution is known commonly as Anti-Stress). Continue giving them this solution until they have learnt to identify the food and drink container, this happens about the third and fourth day.
I have been hearing and reading people’s experiences that the average mortality in brooding is about 3 – 5% which means that out of 100 birds, you will only end up with 95 to 97 birds with about 3 to 5 dying. But I do not agree with this. You can brood without one bird dying. I have done it before. The first time I recorded one chick dying was when I mistakenly cause a wood to fall on one. You can do same but you must change the way you handle the birds. Handle them as if they were humans. Imagine you have a neonate ( a newborn ), will you allow the child to grow on probability the way people do it to chicks? You will do everything possible to make the child grow healthy, the same applies with chicks. When you take care of each as if it were the only one, you will not record any mortality.Brooding, when done properly isessential as one of the steps of making more profit.
Making your own Poultry Feeds
If there is anything that consumes money in poultry farming business, Feeds will always rank first. People are always confused as to use commercial feed or locally made feeds. The answer lies in understanding the ingredientsneeded by the birdsand doing the formulation yourself. Poultry feed formulation is an easy process to do even though it requires little calculation. But once you know what you are doing, you will increase your profit as much as 50%. This means that if you can make good feeds yourself, you can increase the revenue you will get. Assuming you make a profit of 10,000 naira after using commercial feeds, and then for the next set of chickens, you make the feeds yourself, you will make about 60,000 naira as profit. But you must also take note as I have earlier said that you need to treat chickens the way you treat a small child. I believe you will not look for rotten food to give to your child. So do chickens need good food to grow well. When making their feeds, look for good looking maize without weevils or mold, the same goes for the fish meal and soybeans. If for reason of trying to get the cheapest available ingredient and you end up buying contaminated ingredients, your chickens will become stunted and they will make you spend more than you should. Also, do not add too much calcium to their feed because it makes them have diarrhea which causes them to lose weight and it also makes them strong that they fly around and waste the energy they are supposed to conserve in order to gain weight.
When making the feeds, the fish is often costly and farmers prefer the contaminated fish that sales at a cheaper rate. If the fish is not good looking or smells pungent, do not buy thinking as if it will not do anything to the birds. They will eat and remain stunted. Look for the best ingredient and use the best hygiene method when compounding their feeds. It is good that you make about three 100kg bags of feeds for chickens of about 120 – 130 in number for the first 4 weeks. This will help you reduce transport cost of having to be making and transporting each bag. Again, it is good you save money for the period of the year that maize is cheap and fresh and then buy in bulk like 10 bags. (Do this and thank me later). When you do not buy in bulk, the price may go up anytime, imagine buying a bag of maize at 4,500 naira only to buy it at 7,800 naira 3 weeks after. That is how Nigeria market works. If you were buying the commercial feeds, the feeds keep adding money and you keep losing money. It is therefore good to try and make things stable for yourself by buying in bulk and making the feeds yourself.
Remember that increasing the profit lies mostly in making your own feeds compared to other steps.
Growing the chickensto maturity
The step that requires more effort is the growth and nurture of the chicks to reach maturity. This requires a lot of work such as feeding them everyday, washing their water cans, vaccinating them up to the fourth week in broilers and adding of drugs and vitamins occasionally. This is where you need to add more effort to prevent mortality.
First, you need to make sure that the chickens always have food available, remember that they are not humans that they will cry before you come to put food for them. If you do not feed them well, you will end up spending more if you had fed them well. This is because they will not reach the market weight before 7 weeks. You need to make light available for them but the light should be dim such that they can only see the feeding and water cans so that they will not become excited and start jumping around in the night. Avoid the use of bright light. Use dim light, remember you want them to only eat and rest and not to move around. The more the move about, the more energy they burn and the less the become fat.
Feeding them well is the best, if you do not have the money for feeding, please do not go into poultry business, wait until you have enough money.
Know the schedule of their vaccines and make sure that all of them drink the vaccine. It is good that you starve them of water in the evening so that they will become thirsty, then you bring the vaccine around 8am or 9 am (This is the suitable time to make them fully thirsty), when you bring the vaccine, all will struggle to drink the water, by doing this, all the birds can drink the vaccine. This is the reason why you need all your birds to be without deformity in order to be able to compete for food, drink and vaccines well without some taking more than others.
Make the drinking and feeding cans to be adequate. When the birds are many, do not use just one small container, use bigger containers and they should be more than one. If you do not do this, some birds will become bigger while others will be small and you cannot sell them out all at once. This will increase the number of days you have to keep feeding the small ones.
Clean their houses and make sure the floor is dry. Do not allow their house to be wet all because you do not want to spend money to buy the wood shavings. When you allow their floor to be wet, they start having cough and other respiratory infection and their growth will be retarded. They will start dying and flies will disturb them that they will bite themselves and cause injury. Once there is injury, cannibalism starts and you will lose control on how to stop the process. You can see how something little can escalate to other things. So always keep their house dry and the birds will grow well.
Changing their water if you use containers is good. Sometimes when you come, they might have spilled their fecal content into the water. It is good that you change it immediately. Do not assume that they are birds and so they can manage it. When a child drinks dirty water, he gets infection and will not thrive well, so do birds. Change their water when it has finished, when there is dirt in it or when it has stayed from morning till evening. Always wash their containers with soap everyday. Remember to add vitamins in their feeds to help them have good immune system for fighting diseases.
Any disease suspected bird or injured bird should be isolated and observed. It is good that you have a small house for isolating birds. If you do not have an extra house for isolation, your birds could kill each other especially when one injures another and disease could spread easily. The sight of blood makes them peck on the affected bird.
Marketing the birds
This is the main reason why you went into the business. It is quite unfortunate that for every start up, the owner would have to be the producer, marketer, and financial officer. This is so because you have to struggle and start everything and make it work well before you start employing helping hands. To be successful in poultry farming and to make more profit, you must learn the skills of interacting with people and have positive characters of becoming successful. You must learn how to market and make more sales than other farmers.
Marketing is the difficult aspect of poultry farming, especially in broilers compared to layers that the eggs could stay for months and yet it can be the simplest once you have learnt the art of sales. The art of selling can be outlined below:
- It is learnt and it comes with practice and time: they more you keep selling, the more you know how to manipulate the price.
- You get to know people and people get to know you with time, it is not a one day thing. When you start a business, people will have to know what you do before they start coming. That is why if you are going into poultry business, you have to start with something small and understand how the market goes first before you start increasing the number of your chickens. Wealth takes time and it is not an overnight issue, nevertheless, you are not suppose to spent months without growth in business.
- Try to make your chickens bigger and cheaper: people love buying good things and at cheaper prices, it is the reason why you look for the best and cheap ingredient in the market. Once you follow the laid down principle above about feeds making and how to make them grow, your chickens will become big. But another tempting thing is trying to sell at a costly price. Allow people to know you first, then gradually add the price. It is a market strategy that works and even the big companies use it when there is competition and a new company wants to enter the same market. They will at first supply the same quality but at a cheaper rate, then they will gradually add the price. Hence, when starting out, just know that others have been into it before you, do not listen to what other people tell you or how others are selling their own. Try to get the market first, when you have much customers patronizing you, then you can start increasing the number of chickens and the price as well.
- Let friends, relatives, neighbors, and people know that you have chickens and that you sell chickens. Put the chickens pictures as your signatures, profile picture, updates etc on you chats profile and social media. Try to make people aware of your business and the cheap nature of the birds.
- Go to eateries, hotels, restaurants and let them know of it, they love buying especially when the prices are cheap. Know that other farmers might have been there before you, so always try to sell your chickens at cheaper prices; in as much as you want to sell at cheap prices, do not run at a loss. Sometimes desperation ensues when you have no money to buy feeds and you cannot get people to buy the chickens. It is therefore good to start your marketing when the chickens have not even matured and make sure you have enough money as backup. If you live in an area where electricity is stable, then try and get a refrigerator to store them and sell as frozen chickens.
- Once you get to create awareness, people will start coming and you will start making regular income. But do not get any of your customers angry. Treat them with love and kindness. If you do, you have started losing already because that one person can create awareness too about your bad attitude and you will end up having a bad reputation.
- In all you do, remember to pray, thank God, and never give out chickens on credit (you did not rare them on credit).
Poultry farming business requires patience, consistency and determination just like any other business in order to maximize profit, the chickens must be healthy and management of the chickens right from day old to time of selling must be taken seriously.
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.