Challenges of rearing broilers and Chickens in Nigeria

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Poultry business has two major farmers which are: those that keep layers and those that keep broilers. I will be concentrating on the challenges you will face while rearing broilers even though it can be applicable to layers too and I will let you know of the reality of how much you could make by rearing themin Nigeria.

I have been reading online of how much millions that one could make by going into poultryand when I see those writers explaining the huge profityou could make, it makes me laugh. I am not saying that you cannot make moneyfrom poultry business, but I will clarify the reality in the business since I have been there over and over again; so many wrong assumptions are made by such motivational writers which can lead to problems because the new farmer may think it is an easy business to do.

Profit in rearing broilers can be made just like any other business but it comes after everything has been considered and with hard work and consistency, it is not a venture for laziness. I have to write this because some people go into this business with high hope of making huge profit all at once but I am sorry to be an exception to discouraging you. You will love me more if you know the reality before starting the business rather than having failed expectations and depression from the lies that other people may tell you.

Growing of 100 chicks at a time is better than 50 at a time, though you need experience before you start on a large scale
Growing of 100 chicks at a time is better than 50 at a time, though you need experience before you start on a large scale


Challenges to making Profit in broilers farming

When you first start out, you will face so many challenges that those who deceive you will not tell you about them, and because you are not prepared on how to handle these, many starters will end up losing and cannot actually continue the business after one year. If you are reading this, there is a high probability that you might have been deceived before or that you want to see if there is an exception to the “too good to be true” ideas that you might have heard or read on the internet.

These challenges will help you prepare your mind and look for the solutions before venturing into the business so as to make better profit than someone who knew not of them. However, knowing them is not enough, you need to knowthe secrets to having more profit in the business of which I have also written on it, you may refer to it for more knowledge before you go into the business.

1. The number of birds determine the profit you will make

Assuming that you are just starting out and you have like 200,000 naira, ask yourself this question that how much will the birds cost? Are you going to brood them yourself or you are going to buy the already brooded ones? Can I feed all the birds that I intend buying? How much will it cost me to vaccinate all of them?These questions are numerous and like it or not, you must answer all the questions when you start out. The prices for buying of day old chicks alternates and could be 120 to as high as 250 naira per bird. The price is determine to a large extent by festivities such as Christmas, New year, Sallah and Easter. Therefore, about 2 months to any of the festivities, the price can hit its maximum. You should also know that the price does not determine the quality of the birds, so do not be deceived by the high price in one company to think as if their birds are better than those with a low price.

You may bemotivated to think as if the price is constant and you will have the mindset of a fixed price only to be disappointed. So the number of birds you may want to buy may fall short because the price of the birds may go up and you will have less birds and your reality of making millions will be cut short. The price of birds I stated above is for Day Old Chicks commonly calledDOCs,if they are already brooded, their prices increase more than that and can only be determined by the person selling them to you and by your bargaining power.

The greater the number of chickens you rear at a time, the more the profit you can make. Rearing 50 chickens in 2 months with someone who rears 200 within the same month, it means the one with 200 chickens will earn more than you even though the period of rearing is the same. So in order to make more profit while rearing your broilers, try to rear as many as you have the money to feed them, their housing, and the market to sell must all be considered. Though rearing much is not advisable if you are doing the business for the first time. Gain more experience first. Hence, if you are going into poultry farming for the first time, try to gain experience because if your problem is to make profit, you will end up having issues unless you have someone that has the experience that will guide you.

Vaccination and drugs are equally important to prevent the birds from sickness
Vaccination and drugs are equally important to prevent the birds from sickness


2. Drugs and vaccines must be considered

You can never know the type of disease your chickens may have, so there is a need to keep money for buying of the drugs of any disease they may have. Also, their vaccines should be given without missing any schedule. The more the birds, the more you will buy the vaccines and drugs. Their common disease is respiratory disease with diarrhea sometimes. There are four schedules of vaccines for broilers and should all be taken without missing.

Depending on where you reside, try to know how much the vaccinecost first before you start your business. I lived in Jos, Plateau state and we buy the vaccines at 4 naira to 5 naira per vaccine per bird. So if you are rearing 500 birds, the cost of the first schedule of vaccine will be 5 times 500 which is equals 2500. You will need four schedules of vaccines making a total of 10,000 naira for just vaccine. For the drugs, they are in the range of 350 naira, 500 naira and 1000 naira. It is good you ask first before starting the business. Asking is what is commonly calledMarket surveyand it is a good way of avoiding shortages in business.Again, when they are trying to motivate you, they will not tell you this aspect, all they will do is to assume the birds will never die, not have disease etc.

The Location of the poultry farm matters: you need a good land with space and free from predators and humans
The Location of the poultry farm matters: you need a good land with space and free from predators and humans


3. Location, Housing and Cost of feeding

Your chickens need a comfortable place to grow well, free from disease, harsh environment, good source of water, fresh ventilation, and protected from rats, snakes, dogs, hawks and other harmful animals including human thieves. Make sure the money you have at hand is able to build a good house for the birds or rent a good place (though renting could be a risk, find the reason below). So remember to ask yourself these questions: are you going to use the same money to build their house? or you have rented a place already? An estimate of money on feeding alone for 40 chickens to reach 7 weeks will cost you about 35,000 naira (in 2016)- this price may increase with the current economic situation in Nigeria. If you want to have a rough estimate of how many bags of 25kg feed you will need to feed your chickens, here is another calculation: 160 broilers at 4 weeks will start consuming 1 bag of a 25kg feed within 24 hours. So calculate the bags you will need to feed your own chickens.

If you are going to build a place for the birds, that one is completely a different task that you must finish before you consider how much you have. Be very careful when renting an old poultry house because you should know what made the owner of the house to stop the poultry business in the first place. Investigate to know the reason first, it could be that there was an outbreak of a disease that killed the chickens and which could predispose your own chickens too. If it was due to sudden death, then do not rent that place because the same will happen with your own chickens; do not be deceived of trying to spray the house with chemicals to kill the disease because some viruses cannot be totally annihilated. Avoid the house and save yourself heart attack.

If the owner left the business due to poor market for the chickens, then you have to devise a good way of marketing first before you go into the business. It is good you learn from the mistakes of others.

Remember that the owner of the house could lie to you. Never trust anyone in business, not even your pastor. You may need to read about thesecrets to increasing your profit in poultry farming. Do not just ask the owner of the house, you can ask the people around the environment to know why the poultry house stopped business. If there are thieves around, then you should consider keeping guard but always ask why it stopped.

A sick bird that is isolated. You will need a separate house to isolate sick birds to prevent spread of disease and also prevent it from being killed by other birds
A sick bird that is isolated. You will need a separate house to isolate sick birds to prevent spread of disease and also prevent it from being killed by other birds


4. There could be disease outbreak

Apart from the outbreak of disease that might be life threatening to humans such as bird flu, there could be outbreak of other common diseases such as Coccidiosis that could wipe your birds. Having this in mind will prepare you into keeping hygiene in the poultry house and their environment. If you have been hit once of a disease outbreak, you will need no one to tell you about hygiene and care. Before starting a poultry business, have this in mind because if you are not prepared for this, you may end up with hypertension when it happens. But there are ways to prevent, reduce and control the disease outbreak such as quarantining, but that is a topic on its own. Just know that there could be disease outbreak and try to know even little about control of disease outbreak in poultry farming before you start the business.

No matter the number of chickens you have, once there is one chicken that tested positive for bird flu, all the other chickens will be killed and buried by the government of that state, so if you like, have ten thousand birds, they could all be killed in one day without any compensation. And you know your enemies could aid in this process; so be very careful, do not allow just anyone to come into the farm unless they are workers and all workers should bath with germicide and change before entering into the birds premises because you never know where they went to before coming to work that day. You may not take this serious but my words will keep ringing once an outbreak happens.

5. Chickens will not grow at the same rate

You will often hear people saying broilers take 6 weeks to reach market size but that is not totally true. When you are rearing chickens, they will eat and drink the same kind of feed and water but they will grow at a different rate. Some may attend a good weight at 6 weeks while others may attend the same weight in 7 or 8 weeks. A difference of just a day means something to the poultry farmer because when you have 20 extra chickens that need an additional week to mature, then you have to feed them for that week which means extra spending. You have to keep this in mind and not just assume that the chickens will all grow at once. Sometimes it may take some breed about 7 weeks to reach the market weight of which you have to keep feeding other ones for about the 8th week or even 9th week for chickens that do not grow fast.

6. There must be an existing and profitable market

If you rear the chickens and you were concerned only with their rearing, when they finally reach the size to sell, you will have difficulty in selling them and it will be a very serious problem. Some buyers may not buy at the estimated price you earlier thought. What they do is that, they will observe you to see if you are desperate, then they will price it at a very low price that will make you run at a loss. The price at which you will sell them will determine your profit. So make sure that you start looking for as many buyers as possible before the chickens get to maturity. The more buyers you have, the more the price you can sell and the more the profit you can make. Another thing to do as an alternative to selling live chickens is to have a refrigerator and a good source of light and then slaughter the chickens and sell out directly as frozen chickens. If you fail to prepare and market the chickens, you will earn up with loss in your business because people can come and price at 950 naira or 1000 naira when you are supposed to sell at 1500 naira. Start serious marketing the moment the chickens are about 3 weeks to create awareness even before the chickens become mature.

Another thing to note is that do not rely on one buyer who might have given you assurance of buying all the chickens, try to get other people to buy. Your ability to market the chickens determines to a large extent the profit you will make in poultry business especially in broilers.

7. Your Time will be needed

Just like any other business, Your time will be needed in other to make the business to grow and become profitable. If you hardly have time to check the birds and you think you will employ someone to work for you, I will advise you not to start and wait till you have the time first. This is due to the fact that the owner knows what he has invested and would take good care of the birds compared to an employee who is under no supervision. The employee will work as he/she wants and will not put in the best to the growth of the business, after all, you must pay their salary as the month ends whether the birds survive or not. So it is better to see to the growth of the business first before you think of employing.

When you give in your time for the cleaning of the litter, changing their water, adding of the feeds, checking to see that they are all healthy, closing their houses when it is about to rain etc. all these will require much effort that an employee will want to circumvent one or two and the worst is when you employ someone who has no knowledge of hygiene, you will keep buying drugs and the birds will keep dying without knowing the reason.

8. Miscellaneous spending

When you start out, you will need to buy items that might need to be changed such as bulbs, wires, transportation for buying the feeds, transportation for buying wood shavings, and other additional cost. You need to put these things into consideration also before you begin. It is good that you buy all the feed you need at once to reduce the cost of transportation of buying in parts, the same goes with other items. If your source of lighting is generator, then make sure to buy the fuel all at once and store or if it is lantern, then you will need to buy kerosene and the lanterns. All these things must be in your budget so that you will not have any shortages when you finally start business.

I may not have mentioned all the challenges you may face but these are the important few that I have known out of experience and will be of help to you. Feel free to send me an email to ask anything you are not clear of. But do not just use the motivations you hear from people, not all are true and such an ideal business that they often portray does not exist in real life.