One of the most exciting times for a first time chicken owner is that glorious moment once the hens lay their eggs! Often this moment is going to be a joyous surprise, even while for some owners, the more it takes the more nervous they become –“is something wrong with the chicken”,”are they sick”,”do they need to spend more time in the nesting boxes”,”am I feeding them the wrong food”? The majority of the time these queries only cause unnecessary nerves and frustration, even if what your flock needs most is support and patience. As you await your chickens to lay their egg you need to be composed, calm and caring, not anxious and overbearing. Here are some of the greatest things you can do to help your hens as they get ready to lay their first eggs.
When do hens normally start laying?
Generally speaking most hens will begin laying between 18 to 24 weeks. This having been said, some breeds who are not renowned for being productive layers can endure as long as the year to create their very first tasty egg. Finding out the age and breed of your pullets is a really practical way to keep track of your expectations during these first few months, since you will be able to track their progress and see whether anything is out of the ordinary.
How do you produce the right setting conditions to your flock?
There are a whole lot of variables that affect your flock’s likelihood of becoming energetic and productive little layers. Ensuring you meet all your chickens’ fundamental needs, concerning food, shelter and water, as well as creating a serene and tranquil environment, will ultimately result in your chickens feeling relaxed and healthy enough to lay.
Humans have been caring for chickens for thousands of years. As somebody who cares for chickens it is your obligation to make sure that your hens have a great safe place to lay which will keep them protected from the elements and whatever predators might be lurking on them.
The general guideline is that each nesting box can accommodate 3 to 4 chickens — not in precisely the exact same time of course! Nesting boxes also need to be warm, comfy and quiet, which will aid your hens feel safe and secure, while they attempt to stay focused and lay their initial few eggs.
One of the most important factors is daylight. Chickens need at least 10-14 hours of daylight to get their bodies to create any eggs. This is the reason why the majority of chickens stop laying during chilly and winter months. But if your pullets are not let out of the coop, then they will also cease laying, even if it’s sunny and warm outside. That’s why coop accessories like the Automatic Door are so important, particularly if you’re the type of chicken owner that finds it hard to get out of bed early in the morning.
Pullets need additional protein in their diet, as their bodies aren’t only getting ready to lay eggs, they’re also still doing heaps of growing! Diversifying their diet with some healthy treats is a smart way to make certain they are getting some variety.
It all basically boils down to making your flock feel secure, protected and loved. If your hens are worried about predators or unsure of where their next meal is going to come from, then they are not as likely to feel compelled to lay.
What are a few of the signs of a chicken getting ready to lay?
Though many (not all) chicken owners are unable to speak their flocks”buk-buk” speech, your hens will still offer you a lot of hints that their egg making instinct is about ready and they are gearing up to lay their first egg. Below are a few of the top signs that your hens are preparing to lay an egg for the first time…
Red Combs & Wattles
Look closely in the combs and wattles of your pullets around the time they’re 18 weeks old. Generally speaking your hens’ wattles and combs will turn red and swell as their bodies ready to lay eggs. It may seem somewhat odd but think all of these weird and unusual things that the human body does as it moves through puberty.
Checking From The Nesting Boxes
Some hens will start to inspect the nesting boxes all the time they’re getting ready to lay. They’ll wander around, rummage the hemp bedding and stick their beak in and out. Some might also practice sitting in the nesting box, which may cause any chicken lover an excellent deal of excitement! This being said, even if your girls are checking out the nesting boxes, then they may still be a couple of days or weeks off from laying.
Every time a chickens body is nicely ready to lay, you will see your hen doing a strange little squat at the backyard. This bizarre gesture is a subtle and flirtatious indication to a rooster they are fully matured and ready for some funny business. You might discover that your hens will nevertheless do this funky little squat if there are no roosters around. It is likewise a tell-tale sign that your pullet are going to put an egg at any moment! As soon as you see your pullets doing their squats you may be certain that you will find eggs in route!
These are the very typical signs that a chicken is preparing to lay however most poultry owners possess a profound connection with their flock and therefore are able of intuitively feel when their hens are ready to produce their first eggs.
If you are a seasoned chicken owner you may know by now that no two eggs are the same. They range in size, color and shape, and at times you might even encounter what we like to call an ‘egg oddity’, which will often leave you scratching your head.
However, these seemingly strange occurrences can be explained, so continue reading below to solve the puzzle of your extraordinary egg.
Body-checked eggs are those that are wrinkled or assessed in appearance. This is due to them previously being damaged while in the shell gland pouch, often from stress or pressure put on them. They are then repaired before lay, which is what gives them their somewhat rippled appearance.
While this sort of egg may appear alarming, a shell-less egg is a seemingly common occurrence, especially in young layers, because their systems are still warming up to the laying process and their shell gland is still maturing. However, if shell-less eggs are occurring in your older hens, it might be a symptom of calcium deficiency (and overall poor nutrition), stress, infectious bronchitis, or EDS (egg drop syndrome). If it becomes a repeat issue, make sure that your cows are comfortable and eating a well-balanced, calcium rich diet. A quick visit to the vet to test for any further health issues will not hurt either!
Also known as”slab-sided”, these eggs appear to have a somewhat flattened side with wrinkled edging, and are more common in young layers. It gets its misshapen appearance from being kept too long in the shell gland, or in certain cases when a mis-timed egg proceeds down the oviduct and ends up resting alongside it.
Rough Shelled or Pimpled Eggs
Eggs that have differing textures can be due to a range of things. Little bead like growths on an egg (can be in a cluster or larger mole shapes), are known as calcified substance and may be a result of excess calcium intake, disease, or defective shell glands. If these kinds of eggs are only found infrequently, there’s absolutely not any cause for concern, however reducing calcium consumption over winter can help keep pimpled eggs at bay.
Uneven shell colouring are simply the result of uneven pigmentation while at the shell gland pouch-no cause for alarm!
Egg Within an Egg
Theres nothing more alarming than cracking an egg into your frypan and seeing there’s another whole egg inside of it! But consider yourself lucky if this happens to you, as it is a remarkably rare occurrence! Known as counter-peristalsis contraction, this bizarre event results from the early launch of a new yolk while a present egg remains in the formation stage and not yet been laid. This then causes a contraction where two eggs meet up in the reproductive tract and provided a layer of albumin, membranes and a shell surrounding them both prior to being laid! While this might seem disturbing to some, it doesn’t in any way mean your chicken is unhealthy.
Blood spots can appear on the surface of an egg yolk and is the direct result of a blood vessel breaking in the gut as the yolk has been discharged, or in the oviduct as the yolk travels through it. They occur more so in older hens that have a genetic predisposition, are deficient in Vitamin A, or can also be a completely random occurrence!
Also known as”rooster eggs” or”wind eggs”, super small and yolkless eggs are often produced by young layers using an immature or non-synchronized reproductive system. Or in an older hen, as the result of a piece of tissue in the reproductive tract breaking off and being treated as an egg. They have the exact look of an egg, complete with a shell, but without a yolk-what a joke!
Double Yolk Eggs
Our favourite sort of eggs-double yolkers occur when two separate egg yolks are discharged into our hen’s oviduct too close together, and so end up becoming encased in one shell. This can be due to a hormonal change or imbalance which releases the yolk too early. Double-yolked eggs are more commonly produced by new layers, or those nearing the end of their laying life, and is often a hereditary characteristic. These eggs are usually much physically larger than eggs to accommodate two yolks, and doubly yum!
These are simply a few of the well known ‘egg oddities’, if you’ve encountered any extraordinary eggs we’d like to hear from the comments!
If you’re worried about continual or replicate problems with your eggs, it is ideal to go to your local vet to check about your chickens’ health.
Despite the most attentive chicken keeping, one of your birds will get sick sooner or later. It’s essential to have the ability to recognise the signs of illness and act fast — chickens are good at hiding their symptoms, so by the time you notice, they are generally very sick indeed.
If you believe that your chicken is ill…
A veterinarian always gets the best possible way of helping your birds and will have the ability to diagnose any issues with far greater details than any online source.
This article is a useful guide, but merely just guide — your vet is your best solution!
Diagnosing chickens is a huge challenge: they hide their symptoms, and could not let you know what’s wrong even if they wanted to. Furthermore, lots of the external symptoms aren’t specific to any one illness.
–Not drinking or eating
-Weakness or lethargy
-Pale comb or wattles
-Diarrhea or abnormal droppings
-Fluffed up feathers
-Other unnatural behaviour
If any combination of the above describes your chicken, she might be sick, and you need to take her into the vet ASAP to get specific diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of respiratory disease
Respiratory illnesses manifest unique symptoms in contrast to most other ailments.
Again, it’s practically impossible to get a backyard keeper to recognize the specific illness in question. You have to take your chicken to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. This will often involve antibiotics that your vet may prescribe.
General treatment choices
If, for some reason, you can’t bring your chicken to the vet immediately, then there are a few simple things which you can do to improve her probability of recovery.
–Isolate her from the rest of the flock to avoid any possible spread of illness and decrease bullying from healthy chickens.
-Keep her in a well ventilated and dry location.
-Provide a lot of water and food. Give treats if she will not eat her normal food-eating anything is better than nothing.
-Give a teaspoon of yoghurt for a few additional probiotics. Do not overdo it as this may lead to diarrhoea.
At times, a little TLC might be a chicken wants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. After you’ve gone to the vet, it could be worth checking your coop setup — windy dust and loopholes are a common cause of illness, and repairing these issues will help keep your flock healthy.
Some disorders have particular symptoms (in addition to those described above) which can help with home identification.
Coryza: [respiratory] Extremely swollen eyes, and a very rancid odour.
Coccidiosis: Occasionally leads to bloody faeces.
Avian flu: [respiratory] Dark, reddish spots on legs and comb, and sudden death. This disease can infect people, so be extremely cautious if you suspect it. Report any cases to the community government immediately.
Impacted harvest: Swollen crop (a pouch in the front of the body), which is very tough to the touch.
Sour harvest: Swollen harvest, which can be mushy to the touch, and a rotten odor from the mouth.
Botulism: Tremors of increasing intensity, end in death.
Bumblefoot: Infected wound .
Egg binding: The bulge of a stuck egg at the exit to the port.
Frostbite: Pale, slightly blue comb or thighs.
Pasty butt/vent gleet: Droppings caked over the buttocks.
Mites or lice: Pale comb (from blood loss), and compact insects among feathers.
Worms: Proof of worms in droppings.
If your chicken is acting strangely, but does not appear to be showing signs of illness, they might just be broody.
Broiler chicken feed comes in many forms, such as mash, pellet and crumble. Mash typically results in certain waste because of disturbance of grains (coarse particles) from different ingredients and nutritional supplements that result in the flicking behaviour of chickens. This problem is solved in pellet feed that produces uniform proportions and enhanced digestion of nutrients in broiler chickens. Crumbles include an additional measure to pellet manufacturing by taking the pellets and crushing them in consistency that is courser than mash.
There are several advantages of feeding poultry with pellets rather than mash.
-Pelleting reduces waste of chicken feed, water soiling, and discerning eating behaviour in chickens
-Reduces bulkiness of feed by 15 — 18%
-Reduces Salmonella, E. coli, molds and much more, and destroys growth inhibitors, such as trypsin inhibitors and gossypol during processing
-The pelleting process solves mixing difficulties, incorrect particle sizes, and ingredient separation
-Ends in the saving of 15-20% of broiler chicken feed cost
-Produces a greater nutrient density, increases the availability of vitamin E and B12, also improves digestibility and ME value of certain ingredients, thereby increasing animal performance when creating superior feed efficiency
-Studies like those of Chewning et al. (2012) establish that pelleted feeds outperform comparable mash feeds in broiler hens .
The Function of Pellet Quality in Chicken Feed
Pelleting involves conditioning raw materials by adding heat and water in the form of steam. The conditioned feed ingredients are then compacted into a dense mass and formed to conform cut and pressed. The heat and moisture is removed through cooling so the ingredients can withstand reasonably rough handling without excess breakage. Pellets can subsequently be crumbled into smaller particles to enable the chickens to absorb the feed efficiently.
McKinney & Teeter (2004) reported that pelleting contributed 187 kcal/kg of diet because of broiler chickens resting more between foods. They also found that the energy value declined as pellet quality diminished. Components, particle size, temperature, moisture, length of conditioning, and pellet parameters are key variables influencing the physical quality of pellets. Pellets that are good show enhanced durability to withstand the different attritional drives on the pellet. This is especially true of these forces which are encountered during transportation of the feed into poultry farms. The procedure for crumbling imposes stress on the pellet and creates fines that reduce the physiological quality of the feed.
In a study , Lemme et al (2006), they discovered that good quality pellets led to the highest weight gain of broiler chickens when compared to chickens offered inferior quality pellets or rough mash. Furthermore, they found that chickens that ate mash required higher levels of lysine to achieve the same performance as pellet-fed hens .
How Can Pellet Binders Improve Chicken Feed Quality?
Pellet quality depends on feed processing equipment, conditions, and feed formulation. Pelletability of feed components , depending on the presence or absence of natural binders and addition of artificial binders in chicken feed, are key formula factors that affect pellet quality. Since natural binders are required in high inclusion levels to succeed and frequently have high variability, a good quality pellet binder allows feed producers the chance for increased formulation flexibility, cost reduction per unit binding capability, and constant quality.
What Makes a Great Pellet Binder?
The maximum quality of pellet binders increase the efficacy of poultry feed by shielding feed from extreme heat and moisture. While 15 to 18% of fines are generated in the crumbling process. This improves overall quality by boosting pellet durability and significantly cutting down the number of fines in chicken feed.
Additional Advantages of Pellet Binders:
-Improve the output of broiler poultry feed at pellet mill by 10 — 15 percent
-Reduce energy costs by roughly 3 percent
-Shield the physical quality of pellets throughout transportation
-Crumbles with minimum fines can only be achieved with high quality pellets. –Chicken feed performance improves considerably when fines in crumble feed are minimalized, as evidenced by Lemons & Moritz (2015) research. More disadvantages in crumbles requires reprocessing that increases costs and also reduces the nutrient value of ingredients. Broiler poultry feed trials with crumble feed comprising premium excellent pellet binders showed a feed conversion ratio improvement of 4.8% when compared to crumble feed with no pellet binder. Pellet binders save money, time, and resources and also can improve the quality of your stock by enhance the quality of the feed.
While the jury might still be out on this one, what we do know is that eggs would be the cherry on top when it comes to poultry keeping. But how much can you really know about these gems that are wholesome?
We are here to set the facts straight and also inform you exactly what you might ever want or need to learn about eggs!
What is an Egg?
A chicken egg could be either fertilized or unfertilized, and is the perfect little package (an average-sized egg weighs about 50 grams, however this will vary based upon the chicken breed), comprised of seven basic parts; the casing, membranes, the albumen (white), the yolk, the chalazae, the germinal disc and the air sac. Each one of these parts have a specific work to do and serve a particular function.
The eggshell is a really intriguing piece of engineering, housing the entirety of these eggs components inside. It’s composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate, and covered in tiny pores, which give the egg its grainy texture. The casing is a semipermeable membrane, which is just fancy talk for significance that moisture and air can pass through it’s pores. Additionally it is protected by a thin outermost coating called the’bloom’ or’cuticle’, that acts as a natural barrier against external pathogens such as bacteria and dust.
The egg has 2 membranes-outer shell membrane and inner shell membrane, which both sit just inside the shell surrounding the albumen (white). These super strong transparent protein membranes, which can be made partially of keratin, have the function of protecting against bacterial invasion. The outer membrane is secured to the egg shell, whereas the inner membrane sticks into the albumen.
The albumen, more commonly called the’white’, is composed of vitamins, minerals, protein and water and is made up of three primary parts-an inner, middle and outer layer, each of varying depth which surround and protect the yolk. These powerful layers contain plenty of proteins which in a fertile egg can assist with the chicks development, or if sterile, will be passed on to us!
The yolk is the fundamental portion of an egg, and while generally yellowish, its color may change based upon the chicken breed, which range from a light yellow to a deep orange. This tiny powerhouse is where the majority of the proteins, minerals, vitamins and fats of the egg are housed, such as Vitamin A, D, phosphorous, calcium, thiamine and riboflavin.
Chalazae are a part of the egg and are sequences of twisted tissue positioned at opposite ends of the yolk. They play the important role of stabilising the yolk and germinal disk to stop twisting and misalignment from the egg.
Also referred to as the egg cell, or blastodisc, the germinal disc sits on the surface of the cover of the egg yolk and is the ‘powerhouse’ of the egg, as it is where the sperm enters the egg. It is here that the embryo will form by a process of cell division and expansion after fertilisation has occurred.
Sometimes called the ‘air space’ or ‘air mobile’, the air sac forms once the contents of a newly laid egg cools, causing them to contract. This air sac rests between the inner and outer membranes in the eggs bigger end. As the egg matures and not get fertile, the air sac will expand because of moisture and carbon dioxide leaving the egg, and air going into the egg to replace them.
So now you understand just what constitutes these all natural wonders, you are likely asking just how a hen can make this kind of protein packaged product?! Keep reading to find out…
A productive egg layer does first and foremost be based on the chicken strain, so ample research ought to be undertaken in this respect if you are wanting chickens for the sole purpose of the egg producing capabilities. In addition to this they have to be given a balanced and nutritious diet (high in calcium and protein ), fresh water, lots of sunlight, in addition to nesting boxes which are conducive to egg laying (fresh straw, broad, and from the way of direct sunlight or drafts).
A female chicken is born with a complete complement of eggs inside her body, and depending on the strain, will create many or hardly any eggs through the years. Chickens have thousands of miniature ova, which are undeveloped yolks in their gut, and if they’ve matured, an ovum is going to be released into the oviduct where it begins it’s great journey of growth. A hen can have many eggs at various stages of development inside her reproductive system at the same time. Those at the start of their journey are only small yolks, whereas the eggs which are farther down the oviduct are markedly larger and more developed. It takes about 25 hours for an egg to reach the vent prepared for planting in the time it leaves the ovary. Within this period the yolk will expand and become encased from the albumen, wrapped in a membrane and then enclosed in a pigmented shell-voila! Fresh eggs for everybody!
The first stage of embryo growth happens in the blastodisc (germinal disk ), which will become known as the blastoderm once fertilised, and it includes genetic material from both the chicken and the rooster. If housed in the perfect states, either via incubation or by a hen, these cells will then develop into a chick embryo, where it will grow and further develop, getting nourishment from the yolk and albumen.
We think it’s safe to say that there’s definitely far more than meets the eye when it comes to the humble egg. Next time your hen lays one of these beauties take some time to applaud and appreciate these natural wonders!
WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO AND WE HOPE YOU’LL FIND THE ANSWER AFTER…Please leave some comments if you find this interesting. Thanks!
They may not look very appealing to me or you, but from a chickens point of view mealworms seem as yummy as a home cooked meal prepared by someone you love. Even though they have the feel of crumbly corn chips, these tasty little morsels will drive your flock wild with temptation. Only a small part of these previously wiggly wonders is enough to enhance your chickens’ health and well-being so that they can live life in their flip-flappity best! Stick your beak into this easy to digest article with the top 7 reasons to feed mealworms to your hungry feathered friends.
1. Just a couple mealworms goes a long way.
Be sure to don’t create an entire meal from your mealworms alone. Generally speaking, adult laying hens should have a diet of approximately 16% protein. Younger chicks and pullets of course have additional protein in their chicken feed, or extra mealworms in their diet for that matter, to help them as they grow big and strong. Your laying hens will obviously eat the entire bag if you allow them, but make sure you limit their intake to the recommended serving size. Moreover, do not go overboard when you feed your hens with mealworms.
2. Power your hens with protein.
Protein is a vital part of any living creature’s diet, especially chickens. Not to mention chickens will need to have plenty of protein so that they can develop lustrous plumage to keep them warm in winter. Therefore, it only makes sense that any poultry owner needs to make certain that her hens have loads of protein in their diet. Mealworms are usually the natural choice, as every meal worm is nearly 50% protein — HOLY HEN!
3. Mealworms will help your hens through moulting season.
During moulting season, which generally occurs throughout autumn and spring, it’s essential that each and every chicken owner boosts their flock’s protein intake in 1 way or another. Mealworms are an especially good option, as they are a dense source of protein, which will aid your chickens grow their feathers back in no time. It’s also important to be aware that your flock’s immune system will be reduced throughout moulting season, so it is critical that you fortify their diet with a few tasty mealworms, to help them through this challenging season.
4. Bulk up your eggs with mealworms.
Naturally, when your chicken has enough protein in their diet, they’ll have the ability to produce eggs at their best. There have been many accounts of chicken owners noticing an improvement in size and flavour of their eggs after they began to feed their flock the recommended serving size of mealworms. Remember, eggs are almost entirely protein, so mealworm are the perfect extra treat in any laying hens diet.
5. Will help to flip the bedding in a deep litter system.
This may seem slightly left of focus but anyone who uses a deep litter system is always looking out for a simpler way to turn the bedding. Let me clarify, chickens absolutely love mealworms — actually it sends them a little loopy with enthusiasm. By scattering an appropriate serving size of mealworms blended in with feed within the deep litter system, your chickens will start to scratch and peck in the bedding, consequentially mixing it through. Long story short, you won’t have to get out the scoop and blend that hot and heavy bedding through.
6. You will love watching your chickens munching on the mealworms.
You think your hens are excited when they lay an egg just wait until you see how they act when they find out they’re having mealworms for dinner. Like many chicken enthusiast has stated before,”if my hens are happy, I am happy”.
7. Your chickens will love you for it.
As many poultry owners already know, chickens are very responsive to food. There are countless anecdotes of chickens charging across the backyard when their doting owner comes out of the house holding a feeder full of poultry feed, with maybe a few mealworms blended through. Food is just one of the great joys in any chickens’ life, so it’s only right that any chicken lover should provide a few snacks and variety in their diet. Mealworms are simply something that all chickens will love. Do not be a scrooge. Be sure you treat your hens to mealworms every now and then.
Are your flock looking a little itchy? Possibly their feathers are ruffled for no cause. Mites and lice are annoying, bothersome problems to have with your backyard flock, and should be dealt with quickly as it can spread out to all the other feathered good friends. For the fastest way to eliminate these pests examine out our guide. For more comprehensive information, we chatted to Claire Bickle, gardening and poultry specialist to get the tough realities about how to get rid of these mites, should they become a problem with your chickens.
Let’s begin off with some common FAQ’s about these parasites:
What’s the difference between lice and mites?
Well, both are extremely annoying and rather small. The distinction in between the 2 is that mites endure by eating the blood of your chickens. Some survive on the chickens, some live in their housing and come out to feed at particular times.
Lice however do not feed on the blood– rather they survive by consuming the skin scales and particles in their feathers. They also live their entire life on the chicken.
Both lice and mites, if left neglected are harmful to your chickens’ health, so you must definitely do something about it as quickly as possible.
How are they transmitted?
Lice and mites are usually transmitted by wild birds who bring the parasites entering into contact with the coop, or your chickens. Keeping an eye on animals like turkeys and other native birds is important for your flock’s health.
Can they be sent to other animals such as my animal dog or cat?
There’s no definite response as to whether lice or mites will transfer from chickens to other animals. Evidence recommends that the animals like to hang out on other mammals, so it’s worth examining your animals to see whether they’ve got a mite or lice problem. If they do, check out their bedding and their fur– if you presume any activity, give them a good clean and a warm bath.
Ok, now lets get into the various types of lice and mice that can impact your flock.
1. Red Mites (also called ‘Chicken Mites’)
Red mites are a few of the most common mites that affect chickens, and among the most annoying.
Red mites are typically spread out by wild birds coming into contact with your chicken coop. From here, they hide in the dark areas of the chicken cage throughout the day, and after that come out in the evening to feed upon your feathered buddies, as soon as again pulling back when the sun turns up.
To determine whether this mite is the culprit of ruffling feathers in your flock, have a close look at your chickens plumes and skin– if you can see red and black little spots, then these are more than likely red mites.
How they affect your chickens:
The mites can cause your chickens to become anaemic if left untreated. If further without treatment, death may happen, so act quickly!
How to avoid Red mites:
As mentioned previously, wild birds coming in contact with the cage is one of the most common ways red termites can be transferred. Taking measures to prevent birds from sitting on your cage is recommended. In addition, if you are presenting new birds to the flock, quarantine them initially to ensure they don’t move any mites to your existing feathered good friends.
How to deal with Red mites:
Contrary to some drastic techniques, the chicken coop does not need to be burned– it will take a few treatments to get rid of all of the termites, however it will be well worth it!
Ensure you are treating your chickens during the night, as this is the time when the mites will come out from the coop and are active. You can provide a dust of Pestene (a sulphur and rotenone powder), which must dehydrate the mites and effectively kill them (this is likewise safe to the chickens). You need to take on the coop– this is what will get rid of the mites.
Keep the chicken cage very clean– roosts, nesting boxes and the yard! Ensure you thoroughly deal with the bedding also, do not conserve it for the garden compost. When the cage has been scrubbed tidy, spray it with a high pressure hose, guaranteeing you pipe out every crack and corner. Let the cage dry in the sun for a couple of minutes, and after that give it an excellent spray again.
Then, provide the cage’s dark nooks and crannies a generous spray with some Absorbacide (a natural insecticide) or diatomaceous earth. Ensure that when you apply these, that they do not get damp– they will not be as effective. Using a set of gloves and also dust masks is advisable– these powders aren’t poisonous, however it is a stong powder, so may offer you a sneezing fit!
Other coop treatment options consist of Coopex, Pestene and Hydrated Lime.
2. Northern Fowl Mites
Northern Fowl mites are comparable to the Red mite, in that they eat your chickens’ skin. Unlike the Red mite, the Northern Fowl invests its whole life on the chickens. This indicates that the negative impacts of the mites will be much faster, so it’s really crucial to treat them as quickly as they’re discovered.
How they impact your chickens:
The Northern Fowl mite will also cause anaemia in your chickens by feeding upon them, and if unattended will cause death.
How to avoid Northern Fowl mites:
Keep the cage clean, and avoid wild birds and rodents from penetrating the cage and spreading the mites. Clean up spilled feed and anything that might bring in undesirable weird crawlies!
How to deal with Northern Fowl mites:
Right away treat your chickens with a safe insecticide– attempt diatomaceous earth, absorbacide or Pestene. A couple of days later on, deal with the chickens once again– this will get any staying eggs and mites. If none of these insecticides work, contact your vet who might have the ability to recommend you another poultry insecticide.
3. Scaly Leg Mites
These critters are so small that they can not be seen with the human eye– however, they can easily be spotted by the results they leave on your hens.
How they affect your chickens:
Scaly Leg mites weasel their way into your chickens scales on their feet, where they feed and likewise leave droppings. This will make your chickens legs appear crusty and scabby– and if left unattended will infect the remainder of the flock and trigger them terrific discomfort. If left without treatment for a very long time, they may cause death.
How to avoid Scaly Leg mites:
Keep the coop spotless. Likewise quarantine any new birds you may be contributing to your flock, and ensure they aren’t currently affected with the mites– otherwise they might infect your chickens.
How to treat Scaly Leg mites:
Offer your chickens a good bath in a tub of lukewarm water, and carefully tidy them. After they’ve dried off, dust their whole body with some Pestene or diatomaceous earth.
You will also require to give the coop an extensive cleansing. Remember to dust the coop with Pestene or diatomaceous earth.
Different types of lice:
1. ‘Shaft louse’
There is one primary type of lice that affects our poultry, typically referred to as ‘shaft louse’ as they rest on the chickens plume shaft. They have to do with 1-6mm in size, and typically a mustard colour– they likewise move fast. You should not have any difficulty identifying lice on your chickens.
How they impact your chickens:
As mentioned earlier, shaft louse feed upon the scales and feather particles of your chickens. If left neglected, they will cause a variety of issues in your poor birds, such as feather pecking (you’d be pecking your plumes too if you were being bitten!), weight reduction, skin irritation, a pale comb, along with behavioural modifications i.e. listless nature and a drop in egg laying production.
How to avoid Shaft Louse:
Ensure your chickens have access to a dust bathing area– this is the most reliable approach they have of keeping parasites off themselves. Also watch out for any wild birds that have contact with your chickens or the cage– this is how the lice (and mites) are normally sent.
How to deal with Shaft Louse:.
Dust them with a pestene powder or diatomaceous earth if you’ve found lice on your chickens. Likewise, dust the coop thoroughly (make sure when doing this, so your chickens respiratory systems aren’t inflamed). This should cure the issue. Again, ensure they have an area to dust bathe in!
Preventing lice and mites:
Capturing a mite or lice problem early is the crucial to an easy prevention– however, with a little patience and effort you can deal with lice and termites yourself.
Crucial suggestions and pointers to keep in mind:
- Keep the cage tidy, and make sure you get all the dark corners and hidden areas.
- Quarantine new birds and check them for any termites prior to presenting them to the flock.
- Pestene/diatomaceous earth/other safe insecticides are your finest buddies!
Chickens require an area for dust bathing, even if they’re in a cage always. This is the very best prevention for lice and mites.
There comes a time in a chicken owners life, as they scatter pellets or feed round the coop, when they begin thinking to themselves-‘what’s actually within this chicken feed?’ The science of producing chicken feed is actually quite a sophisticated procedure and it is not as straightforward as adding a few different kinds of grains into an oversized laundry basket and giving it a shake. If you are the type of person who desires their hens to be happy, healthy and productive layers, it is crucial that their feed is top notch. However, in the event that you bravely wish to research, experiment and expand your understanding of poultry feed by making your own, it is important that you take notice of a few crucial things .
Which are the cornerstones of a hens diet?
Like people, chickens require a balanced, nutritional diet. The five cornerstones of a Wholesome chickens’ diet are:
- Water: chickens drink nearly double the amount of feed they consume – so be sure they have access to fresh water at all times.
- Protein: to help them develop, grow, produce feathers and lay eggs- protein is essentially the building blocks for everything we love about chickens.
- Carbohydrates: great for energy, keeps their bodies active.
- Fat: provides chickens the required energy increase, helps spread micronutrients throughout the entire body – also it makes the food taste good.
- Minerals and vitamins: these are like the small things you don’t think that makes life run easily – you may just realise they’re lacking when something goes really wrong.
Essentially, with the exclusion of water, your own chicken can get most of their vital nourishment from a well-balanced chicken feed. Keep these five points in mind if you’re planning on creating your own chicken feed, as every element of a hens diet is equally as essential as another.
Why create your own chicken feed?
Many chicken lovers are caring environmentalists at heart- so it only seems natural that they wish to understand what their beloved chickens are eating. Making your own poultry feed is a great way to make sure that what your lovely chickens are pecking at is natural, healthy and prepared with love. Additionally, some poultry enthusiasts are committed to’living green’, and preparing their own quality poultry feed is an excellent approach to produce their lifestyle a little bit more sustainable!
These products are often created to ensure that the chickens continue to stay healthy and happy lives, which often results in more delicious eggs to the owners. So, rest assured as long as you’re buying quality poultry feed, it’s likely that your chickens will be consuming the very important nutrients that their bodies require. To put it differently, store bought chicken feed is not the equivalent of eating fast food for every meal- many are exceptionally great for your flock.
How do I switch from store bought to organic homemade chicken feed?
It is important that you don’t spring your brand new poultry feed in your flock without giving them time to adjust. A fantastic idea would be to gradually integrate the brand new chicken feed you have developed into the chickens’ diet over a few weeks and track how they respond to it.
What You’re Going to have to watch over this time is:
Changes for their own eggs: has egg production increased or diminished? Has the quality of the eggs changed?
Changes in their droppings: are the hens’ droppings regular? Do they have diarrhea? Could they be constipated?
How do they respond to this food: Why are they more excited at feeding time? Are they unwilling to eat the new feed? Are there components of the chicken feed, like certain grains, that they’re leaving to one side?
It’s imperative that you spend extra time with your flock over the span of altering their chicken feed, simply to be sure that your chickens are responding positively to their new menu. Over the course of these few weeks you should make alterations to a fresh poultry feed to ensure that their diet is not out of proportion. For example, if their eggs are malformed, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that you include more calcium in their feed. Another issue might be that their feather development slows or they may start moulting suddenly. This might be a sign that your home made chicken feed does not have the right blend of proteins. In a nutshell, make tweaks, and make certain to do your own research.
So long as you gradually incorporate your chicken feed into your flocks diet, it is not likely you can inadvertently cause any injury to your beloved hens.
Where Do I Start?
Broadly speaking the practice of producing your own chicken feed is comparatively simple. Provided that you have some airtight containers for storage and a bigger container to mix the feed , it’s not likely that you’ll encounter much trouble. Just ensure that the components are fresh and edible and that you have mixed all of the components through thoroughly. Other than that, the way of combining your chicken feed is relatively straight forward.
The tricky part however is deciding about the ingredients- the combinations are endless! Below are two recipe guides from other poultry aficionados to give you a good idea of how to produce your own chicken feed.
4 parts oat groats
4 components black oil sunflower seeds
2 parts soft white wheat berries
2 components kamut
2 parts millet
2 components whole corn
1 part lentils
1 piece sesame seeds
1 part flax seeds
1/2 part brewer’s yeast
1/4 part kelp granules
Free-choice oyster shells
2 parts entire corn
3 parts soft white wheat
1/2 part Diatomaceous Earth (not the type you put in your pool)
1 piece oat groats
2 component sunflower seeds
1/2 part peanuts
1 part wheat bran
1 part split peas
1 part lentils
1 part quinoa
1 piece sesame seeds
1/2 part kelp
Producing your own chicken feed can be an enjoyable and satisfying experiment for you and your chickens. It is important however that you’re ready to spend the time and energy necessary to ensure your marvelous mixture is received well by your own flock. In the end, as long as you are committed to knowing the dietary needs of your chickens, as well as having the ability to dedicate sufficient time into monitoring your chickens’ reaction to the new feed, then you should be able to create your very own unique, lovely and organic chicken feed shortly enough.
A lot of poultry owners feel worried and distressed when they open up their nesting containers to find out not a single egg has been actually laid. What have I done? Why have my chickens stopped laying eggs?!” Some committed chicken lovers find this moment so distressing that they temporarily develop hostile or contemptuous thoughts for their laying hens, but others put this perceived failure upon themselves and agonise over what they may have to cause this mockery! The wisest chicken owners know that this is all part of the natural cycle of a laying hens life and no eggs now does not always mean no eggs tomorrow. So, instead of tear yourself apart with shame and frustration, read this short article that will explain eight reasons which may be causing your laying hens to dry up.
1.The natural pattern of moulting will postpone egg development
It’s quite natural for chickens to moult throughout the autumn months, for example March through to May in Australia. This is a natural process that leads to all chickens to shed their feathers, because their body prepares itself to grow much more full and gorgeous plumage. Over these months your laying hens will appear slightly haggard and world-weary, however let me assure you that this is an entirely natural and essential part of being a chicken. One of the important point to note is that during this time you need to be vigilant and ensure that your laying hens have a balanced diet of protein (chicken feed) and calcium (shell grit). Other snacks, like yoghurt, berries and porridge won’t go astray either, as they often contain helpful vitamins and nutrients that will help your laying hens through this sometimes difficult moment. The upside is if your laying hens continue to put after their moult it’s very likely that your chickens with lay larger eggs. So, don’t despair when your laying hens start to moult, just look at it like your chickens are updating their egg maker.
2. Excess of bad food in their feeds
There’s the false perception between some well-meaning chicken lovers that a fat and happy chicken may in fact produce larger and more scrumptious eggs, but this is a total fallacy. Overweight laying hens, broadly speaking, are very unhealthy and their bodies won’t have the ability to function as they would if they were at the correct weight level. So, be certain that you only provide your laying hens the ideal types of treats, in addition to maintaining a balanced diet of chicken feed, shell grit and lots of water.
3. Not enough time in Sunlight
Not all first time chicken owners understand that laying hens need lots of time out in sunlight, otherwise they are unable to produce their eggs. This is due to the fact that there’s a gland that exists behind their eyes, which in response to sunlight produces certain types of hormones which cues the chicken’s body to begin egg production- that’s a really simple way of explaining it. The Automatic Door Opener is a perfect solution if you’re someone who prefers to stay in bed at six in the morning. Naturally, during seasons like winter and autumn when there are reduced daylight hours, chickens may begin to put less or stop entirely. Some breeders rectify this by introducing heat lamps and artificial light simulators, however that is left to the discretion of the owner, as some more organic farmers don’t feel comfortable playing the chicken’s biorhythms.
4. Your hens might be getting a bit old
Average laying hens will begin to produce fewer eggs once they are 72 months old. At the end of the day there’s absolutely no way from quitting laying hens from getting older but that doesn’t mean you must stop loving them.
5. Broody Hens
There comes a time in each chicken’s life when they feel pressured to be a mother. As most chicken owners do not let their laying hens to spend some quality time with a rooster, some chickens get really confused and believe that their eggs may be fertilised. This is usually referred to as broodiness and it often effect hens for five to ten weeks.
6. Stress can divert your chickens from laying
Chickens may look like tranquil creatures but through the laying season they are delicate and neurotic artists who need total concentration, otherwise they won’t be able to create their eggs. There are things which could cause your laying hens to feel distressed and distracted, such as untamed dogs, over-excitable kids, predators and enthusiastic owners who might be sticking their beaks to the nesting boxes too regularly. Additionally, transferring your laying hens to a new coop or introducing new chickens to the flock can also stress your chickens out, which in turn will inhibit them from laying. It is actually an excellent idea to put off any sort of significant modifications that will alarm your laying chickens to a time of the year when you don’t expect them to be laying anyway.
7. It may be a signal your chickens are suffering with lice and fleas
If you’re still unsure what may be causing your chickens to prevent laying you might wish to consider taking your laying hens for a check-up at the VET. Firstly however, check to see if there are any mites or lice within that dermis or on their skin which might be causing them distress. If you do find some mites or lice just clean out the coop and think about giving your chickens a wash, otherwise the fleas will continue to torment your poor hens and you won’t be able to enjoy their scrumptious eggs.
8. Disease and discomfort will stop eggs in their paths
There are a plethora of disease that laying hens can capture will often result in some terrible symptoms, which normally comprises a reduction in egg production. Most disease will often result in your chicken experiencing a period of diarrhoea, which can be characterised by excess mess around the poultry’s port. Once more, in the event you notice any typical signs of symptoms, which may include uncharacteristic reduction in eggs, please contact your local VET.
Most of the time laying hens cease to make eggs permanently or temporarily for a number of natural motives, such as age, season or moulting. Though a lot of us wish our laying hens would cook up tasty eggs for us for many, many years, this unfortunately is seldom true. The best thing you can do is relax, accept the facts and show gratitude to your laying hens, which have worked very tough for you for 72 weeks or more to prepare fantastic, nutritious and delicious eggs to you.
Winning the war against disease in your chickens are often as straightforward as boosting their immune system by incorporating foods and supplements into their normal diet. A fantastic balanced diet consisting of age-appropriate feed and a never ending supply of fresh clean water is a great foundation. Adding nutritional supplements and garden fresh herbs, fruits, seeds, vegetables and grains will attract the wild cravings of your chickens and they will flock like crazy to their feeders. Though chickens have been domesticated, their inherent desire to live off the land means adding these”real” foods for their diet is a natural option. Immunity boosting foods are generally full of antioxidants including Vitamins A, C and E, contain the minerals zinc and selenium as well as carotenoids- the pigments found in plants- like beta-carotene which converts into Vitamin A.
Let us take a”peck” at some simple ways to develop your chickens’ immune system by integrating a few extras in their diet.
1. Produce Extraordinary Beautiful Beginnings
Newborn chicks have the nutrient rich yolk in the egg just before hatching, afterwards the chicks are equipped with most of the vital nutrients they’ll need for about two days. Lacking only Vitamin C, the yolk is essentially a chick’s lifeline until they take their first peck at their starter feed. One of the most nutritious additions to a chick’s diet are eggs! Scramble up an egg or two and combine in a little minced garlic as a boost due to their developing immune systems.
Whether you have brooder or Mother Hen, both will greatly benefit from a tiny extra nourishment added to their starter feed. Sprinkle a little probiotic powder, brewer’s yeast, moistened oats, finely chopped dandelion greens or chickweed in their feed and blend. Other excellent immunity boosting options comprised of cooked brown rice, sea kelp, sesame seeds, wheat germ, raw oats — that help to keep their vents free and clear of buildup- herbs like oregano, parsley, cinnamon, mint, tarragon, finely chopped bay leaves, clover, sage and Echinacea.
2. The Use of Apple Cider Vinegar
Among the primary things you can do as backyard poultry keeper would be to dunk your chicks’ beaks into water to encourage drinking, a simple waterer can be crucial in fostering your chicks’ immunity. A couple drops of Apple Cider Vinegar added to a chick’s waterer several times per week promotes resistance and give good digestion and respiratory health. Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, is useful in preventing illness in backyard chickens and you can say farewell to pesky internal parasites! ACV produces an extremely undesirable environment for harmful parasites to take up residence. It removes toxins from the bloodstream, thins mucous to promote better respiratory health and contains antibiotic and antibacterial properties.
3. Herbs for Hen Health
Herbs provide healthy medicinal properties for humans and chickens alike! Adding herbs into your chickens’ diet is a sure way to boost their immune system and add variety to their diet plan.
Bay Leaves actually”stem” from the Bay Laurel tree and can gladly thrive indoors or outdoors in pots. Medicinally, Bay Leaves include many essential antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and are famous for their antiviral properties.
Echinacea is easily started from seeds sown indoors or implanted directly into the backyard patch in late spring. A helpful ally in warding off the frequent cold and in combating viral infections, Echinacea is a helpful healing herbal jewel for both you and your feathery friends.
Dandelions seem to flourish no matter what! This rich vibrant weed is a beautiful addition to any poultry salad that you serve up. Dandelions are high in protein, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, AND help in digestion, enhance the function of all other organs and improve your flock’s nutritional intake.
Some other healthful herbs for overall good health include coriander, sage, spearmint and tarragon.
Herbal tea is overflowing with resistance boosting nutritional goodness and a delightful treat for chickens. Spend some quality time together with your chickens and host a feathery tea party! Simply brew some lovely herbal tea and serve-mini teacups are optional. It’s possible to stick to the conventional lemon or mint tea or mix this up a little and sip on some strawberry peppermint or ginger cinnamon tea. Leave the brewed herbs when serving as well as your chickens will no doubt peck them up!
4. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Full of essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, antioxidants, kiwi and papaya are a sweet treat and dietary supplement that your chickens will adore.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, lettuce and cabbage are ideal immunity boosters and young spinach or sweet baby spinach are beautiful additions to your own flock’s diet. Colorful capsicums are another crunchy treat to tempt your chickens. Garlic is an immunity boosting powerhouse! Garlic will develop your flock with the building blocks they need to resist disease.
5. Simple Seeds and Grains
For the busy health conscious foraging chicken on the move, seeds and grains are great snack pecks. Adding extra seeds and grains into your chickens’ routine diet makes great sense-foraging chickens naturally eat seeds and grains frequently, so they’re more inclined to provide these familiar foodstuffs their peck of approval.
Sunflower Seeds: Sunflowers seeds are full of vitamins, antioxidants, vitamins and protein. And a big hit with the chickens.
Pumpkin Seeds: These powerhouse seeds are full of vitamins, antioxidants and protein and are an excellent natural wormer, to boot! And, chickens can eat the pumpkin flesh also. Just make certain your pecking chickens have access to grit in order to help in the digestion of this fibrous flesh.
Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are a wonderful all around health food- packed with antioxidants, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, ginseng seeds additionally boost egg laying, improve feather condition and reduce your chickens’ chances of developing cancers.
Great Grains: Some excellent grains to pick from include oats, barley, malted grains, corn and wheat berries. Grains are a great source of carbohydrates and immunity boosting minerals. Plus, chickens adore them! Have you got a green thumb? Why not take a peek at sprouting your own grains? What a fantastic way to ensure your chickens have access to new grains throughout the entire year!
6. Proactive Probiotics and Fabulous Fermented Feed
Adding probiotics into your chicken feed is an easy way to ensure your chickens have an extra dose of immune system power. What are probiotics anyway? Simply put, probiotics are live microorganisms or good bacteria that improve an individual’s health, feathery or non-feathery, if active and present in the digestive tract to keep things moving along smoothly. Probiotics are typically available in powder or liquid form to incorporate into your chickens’ feed or water.
Another wonderful way to add probiotics in your chickens’ everyday diet is to provide them yogurt. Currently, while chickens do not have the enzymes required to digest the sugars found in milk products, somewhat plain yogurt today and then is simply fine. Yogurt, an excellent supply of protein, potassium and calcium also comprises active probiotics for your chickens.
Serving your flock fermented feed is a fantastic way to promote good health and increase resistance to illness. Fermenting feed for farm animals is an age old process. It provides many benefits to your flock-the fermentation procedure increases protein and vitamins content, creates more readily digestible feed, significantly enhances quality of eggs and tends to create firmer droppings! Garden poultry and livestock keepers have been doing this for ages.
Putting it All Together
Experiment with different combinations of components. Your chickens will be happy with glee to have such variety! Most of all, delight in the knowledge that you’re creating strong, healthy, active chickens who will be the”feather” of your eye!
Yoghurt and cheese are all fermented foods we humans consume on a regular basis, but did you know that you can ferment your chickens feed too- and they will love you for it!
Fermenting chicken feed has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and according to poultry experts, for good reason.
So, now you’re asking what is this fermenting business and how can I jump on the bandwagon – well we have all the answers!
What is fermenting?
Fermentation has been used for many years as a means of preserving and enhancing some particular foods.
The fermentation process involves using naturally occurring bacteria to partially break down the food- improving its enzyme content and increasing its levels of vitamins B, C and K. This helps to make the food easier to digest and gives its usable protein content a major boost. It will rid of all the bad bacteria, leaving only the good bacteria behind!
Why should I ferment my chicken feed?
Fermented foods are great for our health – they normalise the acidity in our stomach, provide digestive balance, aid in the absorption of nutrients and neutralize toxic compounds.
In chickens, it has been found to have similar effects- aiding with their digestive and intestinal health as well as increasing their egg weight, shell weight and thickness.
Fermenting preserves all the important vitamins in your chicken feed grains, and also creates new vitamins such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin- all which help promote better overall health in your chickens!
As fermented feed becomes more dense and rich in nutrients, it becomes more filling- so a little goes a long way! Compared the amount of unfermented feed your chickens would eat, they will generally eat about half this amount of fermented feed- yet get more nutrients! (This also means you will have less chicken poop on your hands!)
Because it has the consistency of a ‘mash’ there is less spillage, and chickens won’t scratch through and throw it out of the feeder, so there is less waste- your wallet will thank you!
So by fermenting your chicken feed, you will have tastier and stronger eggs, increased hen health, lowered feed costs, and less poop- what are you waiting for?
How do I ferment my chicken feed?
There are a few things to consider before you rush into the fermenting process- firstly, how many chickens do you have? If you only have three of four hens, you might want to make your feed in a tupperware container, glass jar or small bucket. If you have a larger flock, plastic food grade buckets, ceramic containers or a bucket should do the trick. No matter what you’re using, make sure they have a lid!
Be wary to not use metal containers as the high acid content of the fermented feed can sometimes interact with the metals and cause contamination of the feed.
Next, you need to decide what ingredients you want to ferment. You can ferment pretty much any feed that you currently give your chickens- pellets, scratch, seeds, egg shells and whole grains are all great!
You are now ready to embark on the fermentation journey!
1. Fill your container about halfway with your chosen feed- remember that the grains will expand, so be sure to leave enough room relative to the size of your container.
2. Then add enough dechlorinated water to cover your grains by a couple of inches.
3. Stir the mixture at least once or twice a day, and add water as necessary to ensure that the water level stays above the feed. Make sure that you put the lid on properly each time after opening, and soon the magic will happen!
You soon should start to see bubbles form on the surface of your liquid, and it may emit a slightly sour smell- this is lacto-fermentation in action! The water may also appear a little cloudy and foamy- this is all very normal, and you can simply stir your mixture to get rid of it.
Lacto-fermented feed should never have a rotten or unpleasant smell- this indicates an overgrowth of yeasts or moulds in the feed, and so it should be discarded of, and you will need to start the fermentation process again.
If your grains are always completely covered by water, and your container is always sealed properly, you shouldn’t have an issue, and the fermenting process should be a breeze!
Within three to five days your feed should be fully fermented-yay! This will be made evident by the presence of small bubbles and the sour smell.
When it comes to feeding, scoop or spoon out an appropriate amount for your flock. Try and scoop from the bottom of the container to get a real mixture of all the ingredients.
You can choose to press out some of the liquid, strain it, or simply add it to their feeder as is- all work equally well!
When you remove feed, be sure to add the same amount back into the container to replace it. Stir thoroughly, add more water to completely cover the feed, then seal the lid back on- letting the fermenting process to continue!
While you may not feed your chickens fermented feed every day, it is definitely something to experiment with given the health benefits for your girls.
Have you ever fermented chicken feed before? We would love to know your tips and tricks and do’s and don’ts. Please share it on the comments.
Many poultry professionals take their chicken feed quite seriously- but why wouldn’t you? As I have heard a lot of chicken enthusiast say,”if I’d like my eggs to flavor natural, I want to feed my chickens natural feed”. This being said, there’s a significant cost disparity between commercial and organic chicken feed which implicitly begs the question,’is there a difference between both?’ This is no easy question to answer, since the food science surrounding the creation of chicken feed is highly complex. Even so, this brief article will attempt to illuminate the vital differences between organic and industrial chicken feed.
What Is Chicken Feed Even Made From?
To be able to comprehend how organic feed is different from industrial types, it’s important to understand what chicken feed is really created out of in the first place. Basically this intricate formula is designed to make sure that your chickens get a decent combination of essential fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins to ensure they lead healthy and happy lives.
What Makes Organic Feed “Organic”?
To put it simply, organic grains and other protein sources are essentially grown through a more natural farming procedure, which does not use controversial agents such as pesticides, synthetic growth stimulants and so forth. Some customers feel uncomfortable when goods are manufactured in a means that’s quite removed from how these crops would obviously rise in the wild. As the practice of growing organic ingredients is usually more time consuming and expensive, these kinds of organic chicken feeds normally come in a more expensive price. That is in large part because of the extra cost it requires to manufacture such a product. To make confident the chicken feed you’re interested in is 100% organic, check for a ‘certified organic’ emblem which needs to be found on the packaging.
At this stage there seems to be no strong evidence to suggest that chickens who eat organic feed versus commercial feed live healthier or happier lives. This being said, a great deal of effort was put into ensuring that chickens who eat commercial feed possess all the basic nutrient requirements that they need. Anecdotally, some poultry enthusiasts have commented that their chickens seem zealous and perkier since they’ve switched to organic feed. However at this point there does not appear to be any clear scientific evidence.
So What’s The Point?
Among the important advantages of buying organic chicken feed is that it is a more sustainable and green friendly approach to keeping chickens. Organic poultry feed does not rely upon artificial and environmentally costly chemicals to grow. This in turn helps improve the environment, and it will be ultimately a fantastic benefit to all people, including your chickens.
Whichever type of feed you decide to go with, you need to be commended for making the world a more sustainable place simply by caring for chickens. Though there’s absolutely no clear evidence at this point to suggest organic chicken feed is much better for your chickens, why don’t you simply switch over for a couple of weeks, just to see if there are any changes in disposition or egg quality. Afterall- you know your chickens best. One more thing you can try is creating your own organic chicken feed at home. Every one of these sustainable approaches help improve our environment, which can be a significant issue for us all.
Thinking about how to keep chickens as pets? If chicken keeping is a new concept to you, perhaps you’re wondering why you would want to keep chickens as pets when you can visit the grocery store to pick up your new eggs? There are many reasons to maintain pet chickens aside from having a fresh source of healthy and nutritious eggs. Maintaining pet chickens is a rewarding hobby which is enjoyable for the entire family. Stressful job? You will realise that keeping pet chickens is relaxing, fun and surprisingly entertaining!
Not only do chickens make great pets, they are also productive backyard friends and pay for their own upkeep with delicious and healthful fresh eggs! Think chicken keeping is pricey? The opposite is actually correct! Unlike other pets, chickens are cheap and won’t burn through your own time or your wallet. All of your garden chickens require is a small amount of care per day and they live happy and wholesome lives.
Why Chickens as Pets?
Good Backyard Eggs
They’re also lower in cholesterol than store-bought eggs. Keeping pet chickens will let you have the delight of eating eggs out of your own backyard flock — so you understand what’s gone into producing your eggs, and you will likely never have to purchase supermarket eggs again. New backyard eggs are more flavourful — thanks to the diverse and nutritional rich diet which you nourish your happy and healthy hens. They are, in fact, fresh! The eggs you find on the supermarket shelves are months old until they ever make it to your local store. Fresh eggs are smarter also, a vivid orange instead of the light yellow barn or cage hens produce. Even better, you can be sure your eggs are organic! To produce organic eggs, just feed your chickens organic poultry feed and utilize natural cleaning and pest and parasite control methods.
Chickens are Great Garden Helpers
Are you a keen gardener? Chickens create a fantastic source of the highest quality manure and compost to your garden! Adding their employed hemp bedding into your mulch bin — or directly to your backyard bed — is a rich supply of fertiliser for your garden and precious plants. Backyard chickens may also help you til your garden soil in between plantings and aerate present garden beds. They will also make light work of any garden pests which are bothering your veggie patch crop or flower beds!
Think that maintaining pet chickens sounds boring? Think again! Chickens have just as much character as a dog or cat — a few are even sassier, funnier and cuter than you’d think! They are sometimes endearing, quirky and even slightly kooky. There are so many distinct chicken breeds to choose from and they feature a stunning selection of patterns, colours, sizes and shapes. Do not be surprised if you find yourself naming your garden chickens and giving them a hen hug! Got kids? Chicken keeping is a fantastic way to present them to the cycle of life, sustainable living and personal responsibility.
Space and Care
Think you don’t have a backyard big enough to deliver a happy home for some adorable hens? Think again! While we always encourage chicken keepers to allow their chickens roam as quickly as possible, there are some chicken breeds which do very well in smaller backyards or restricted to a spacious poultry run carried with tried and tested boredom busters that keep them busy and emotionally stimulated. Chicken keeping is a breeze when it comes to upkeep and maintenance — provided you be sure to have the proper tools for the job.
One of the keys to increasing healthy meat chickens, like broiler chickens, is the creation of an effective stress management program. While stress is unhealthy for all living beings, chickens and other poultry are particularly vulnerable to receiving unwanted symptoms which may be damaging to their own health.
Stress in Broiler Chickens
It is important to identify symptoms of poultry strain in the earliest stages possible to prevent harmful health problems from occurring one of your broiler flocks. It is just as important to ensure poultry’s physiological health as it is to guarantee the humane treatment of your flock. Production levels grow exponentially in the absence of poultry stress.
The 5 most common symptoms of poultry stress:
-Reduced egg production
-Increased feed conversion ratio
-Immune suppression and increased susceptibility to diseases
Methods for Minimizing Poultry Anxiety
Solutions for fixing poultry stress include keeping a clean, serene, disease-free environment. In addition, broiler chickens and poultry in general dislike startling noises, intense heat, and other unusual circumstances.
Identifying common areas where stress happens should begin with an examination of living conditions. Do your hens have access to fresh air and enough room to roam? Basic things like being able to scratch in the dirt may impact the way broiler chickens’ physiology reacts to environment.
Poor management of a clot may also cause stress, in addition to changes in the seasonal and weather patterns. It is essential to establish a positive routine for your chickens that rewards their health and eliminates elements which may cause poultry stress.
When you’ve identified the regions where your flock might experience stress, it is time to identify the potential effects of stress in your chickens.
Frequent Indications of poultry anxiety in broiler chickens:
-Poor feed conversion
-Increased manufacturing costs
-easily contracted ailments and illness
Among the most significant causes of poultry stress is heat stress. Chickens do not have sweat glands and are thus not able to regulate their own body temperature. A very common indication of heat pressure is fast panting, which suggests the chicken is in distress. Low freedom and poor appetite are several other readily identifiable symptoms.
Developing a Nutritional Management Program
If you think your broiler chicken flock is suffering from poultry stress, it’s important to start treating it as soon as possible. After identifying environmental factors contributing to anxiety, think about supplementing their diets with nutritional additives that will restore them to full health. This is particularly significant because poultry strain causes detrimental stress to some chicken’s natural reservations of nutrition and upsets bowel performance.
Vitamins, amino acids, and minerals are the most frequent kinds of nutritional supplements. Electrolytes, probiotics, and fermentation products also have proven to be effective at restoring health.
Look for supplements that boost health by meeting these four qualifications:
-Overcomes anxiety caused by a variety of conditions and variables
-Promotes absorption and digestion of nutrients
-Improves feed intake, weight gain, and feed conversion ratio
-Accelerates the recovery of gut microflora subsequent antibiotics or chemotherapy
Taking the time to raise broiler chickens in a stress-free, humane environment is the best way to ensure absolute poultry health and high levels of production and profit.
Chickens normally suffer from a range of ailments and health conditions. Maintaining peak heights of poultry health is very important to farmers and manufacturers to offer their flocks a fighting chance.
Combating Chicken Problems & Health Issues
A healthy chicken is one that has regular access to optimum nutrient intake. While many medications are offered for enhancing chicken health, supplements and additives are highly capable of boosting the immune system and supporting healthy functions.
Many common health issues might be eased or maybe avoided by enhancing diets and relieving components that would give rise to poultry diseases. To get some of the foremost serious diseases and health afflictions, antibiotics, vaccines and distinct therapies is also required. But even in situations which need the utilization of drugs, chickens may have a larger probability of survival if they have been given necessary parts of nutrients to maintain wellness.
6 Common Chicken Health Problems
Some poultry health issues can go nearly unnoticed for days or months on end, while some can kill chickens within a matter of hours. Listed below are just six of the most common health issues chickens face:
1. Fowl Cholera
Fowl Cholera is a chronic disease brought on by Pasteurella Multocida that can affect the joints, wattles, sinuses and other cells. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea with a greenish tinge, ruffled feathers, swollen purple wattle, bloated comb, swollen joints, lameness, oral, nasal and ocular discharge and abrupt death. Most commonly found in older chickens, Fowl Cholera affects more cocks than it will to hens.
Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease brought on by Coccidian protozoa that resides in and damages a specific region of the gut in chickens. The trouble begins when birds consume a sporulated oocyst which is broken down from compounds in the gut, discharging an infective sporocyst. This begins the life cycle which results in the destruction of intestinal epithelial cells.Together with harm to the gut walls, it causes nausea, loss of appetite, ruffled feathers, weight loss and inability to absorb nutrients.
3. Avian Influenza
Avian flu is a disease brought on by type A Orthomyxoviruses. They are generally found and spread from wild aquatic birds that infect poultry. Diarrhea, nasal discharge, edema from the comb and wattles, purple discoloration, coughing and coughing, swelling, ruffled feathers and much more are symptoms of the bird influenza.After dispersed, avian flu is deadly.
4. Fowl Pox
Also known as Avian Pox, Fowl Pox is highly contagious. Chickens who contract Avian Pox can experience two different types of the condition:
- Dry pox
- Wet pox
Symptoms are characterized by distinctive bumps that look like warts and are visible on the wattle and comb. In addition, young birds experienced stunted growth and egg production decreases.
5. Newcastle Disease
Newcastle disease is an acute respiratory disease that can spread rapidly. Symptoms of the disease depends on whether the infecting virus has a predilection for respiratory, digestive, or nervous systems. While it can affect both wild and domesticated fowl, domestic poultry is much more susceptible to contract severe symptoms.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease that can cause septicemia and enteritis in young chickens. With a low mortality rate, infections are contracted orally and can be spread by rodents.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, closed eyes, loss of appetite, thirst, ruffled feathers and dejection.
Improving poultry health by using feed supplements and additives which work to optimize the consumption of nutrients. Reducing the parasitic load of raw materials, improving digestive function, and restoring healthy populations of gut bacteria can all be achieved using high-quality additives.
If you are assuming how to boost egg production in commercial layers, you have to always keep in mind one thing. You have to be actually aware of how to determine the number of eggs that your flocks may make and certainly the variables that are actually having an effect on the egg production cost.
Egg Production Expectation
A laying hen lays just one egg in a day, as well as in some days it might not lay any eggs at all. It totally relies on the chicken’s reproductive system. A chicken’s body start to develop a new egg after it has actually set the previous egg. It takes around 26 hours to develop an egg completely, so mathematically a chicken will definitely lay its next egg two hours late per day, the reproductive system of a chicken likewise is actually vulnerable to light exposure. Thus if a chicken lays egg late in the day it will bypass to lay another egg the following day.
A flock of hens do not start laying on the same day. They also do not lay eggs for the same period of time. The time period that a hen will produce eggs varies from hen to hen. The egg level of egg production decreases each year and the size of the eggs increases. The number of eggs that a hen produces each year and the number of years that a hen produces eggs depends on some factors:
- Management of pullets prior to lay
- Light management
- Space allowances
Factors that Affect Egg Production of Poultry
There are many factors that directly or in directly affects the egg production rate. To know these factors we need to do a research on the history of hens. The factors like aging, feed consumption, water, intensity and duration of light, diseases etc affects the production of eggs.
- Aging hens: Aging is a big problem in egg production. A hen can live many years and it lays eggs continuously for these years. But after a sudden period of time like 2 or 3 years it’s egg production rate significantly reduces. It actually depends on the quality of hens that you are raising. Good layer hens lay eggs continuously for about 50 to 60 weeks then it takes a break. This time period is called molt. Poor and older layers more often molt and lay eggs less continuously.
- Improper Nutrition: Chickens need a balanced diet with enough level of protein and calcium to continue the maximum egg production over a certain period of time. Improper nutrition can make the hens to stop laying eggs. Imbalanced level of protein, energy and calcium can drop the egg production. That’s why it is so important to supply a continuous balanced food to get a continuous supply of eggs.
Imbalanced food can cause many problems like oviductal prolapse. It mainly occurs when the birds are too fat or the egg size is too large. Prolapse can cause permanent damage to the hens.
- Rejecting important food ingredients: Another important factor that makes you hens to lay eggs occasionally is the subtraction of important food ingredients.
- Salt: Every animal needs salt. If you subtract salt from the food list it will reduce the egg production rate. Most of the animal’s food contains salt in the form of sodium chloride. It doesn’t contain any iodine.
Sodium is an important nutrient which plays an important role in maintaining the body fluid volume, proper osmotic relation and blood ph. Chlorine is also an important ingredient. HCl which release from stomach helps to digest food. Chlorine also maintains the osmotic balance in body fluid.
- Calcium: The egg shell of hens is mainly composed of calcium carbonate. New hens need relatively a low amount of calcium at their growing period but when it start to lay eggs, it needs more calcium about four times relative to previous days. Inadequate calcium supply will lead to reduce egg production rate. Calcium can be supplied with the food. Limestone is a great source of calcium. You can mix it with the food you supply to your hens.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium. If improper vitamin D is supplied with the food ingredient it will result in decreased egg production. Feed contains vitamin D in two forms D3 and D2. In birds D3 is more active than D2. So you have to supply vitamin D only in the form of D3.
- Protein: The requirement of protein is actually the requirement of amino acid which constitute the protein. There are about 22 types of amino acid in body protein and all of them are essential. Hens can’t produce all of them and also can’t produce enough to meet their requirement. So poultry farmers need to supply extra protein with the supplied food. The requirement of amino acid depends on the age, type and strain.
- Salt: Every animal needs salt. If you subtract salt from the food list it will reduce the egg production rate. Most of the animal’s food contains salt in the form of sodium chloride. It doesn’t contain any iodine.
- Management mistakes: Improper management system can also reduce egg production. Some mistakes that the farmers often does are:
- Out of food is one of them. If you keep your hens out of food it will reduce its egg production. The reduction of egg production depends on the time without food. Make sure that your birds have enough supply of foods.
- Water is also an essential element. Water represents about 70% of body weight. Inadequate water supply can also reduce egg production. Birds are more sensitive to water than food.
- Daylight is also a great factor which controls the production of eggs. Hens need at least 14 hours of daylight. The intensity of light must be sufficient to increase egg production.
How To Manage Egg producing Hens?
Two methods are followed for the housing and management system of layer hens and they are the floor production and the caged layer production. By using any of these methods, you can keep your hens in production throughout the year.
You should keep your chicken farm away from other. A good drainage system is a must for the poultry farm. To provide enough light intensity, adequate light fixtures are needed. A good supply of fresh and clean water is also a must.
The poultry house must allow a plenty of sunlight and ventilation. Removable doors or curtains can be used so that the openings can easily be opened when the climate changes. You need to keep the house comfortable and clean by ventilating from all the sides in the time of summer and closing the openings at the time of winter.
The caged layer hens are placed in a poultry battery cage with the supply of enough food and water to each cage. Each cage contains maximum 4 or 5 hens. Commercial poultry cages come with full accessories: Nipple drinking system, Medication tanks, Adjustable foot plates for leveling, Water pipe, Pipe connect and Feeder groove, etc. The cages provide big help to manage the egg producing hens.
Floor production system is used either for egg type or broiler type birds. In commercial birds, this method is used for the production of fertile eggs. The birds are kept in a covered floor to let them lay eggs there. But we couldn’t take a full use of the coop space by this way. And it’s not easy to collect the eggs and keep the eggs clean.
How Should You Plan Your Poultry for Maximum Egg Production?
To make sure that your poultry will give maximum eggs, you have to follow the process described below:
- Provide basic needs:
- Food: To keep your flocks body functioning properly you need to supply nutrient rich units each day, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For the laying flocks it is essential to provide them with 16 to 18 percent protein and 3 % calcium with their daily food to keep them strong and for strong egg shell. Many of the poultry farmers try to save money by feeding household food scraps and scratch grains. It remarkably doesn’t increase the egg production.
- Water: A constant supply of fresh and clean water is needed for maximum egg production. Not only the hen’s body but also half of the eggs volume consists of water. If you fail to supply enough amount of fresh water, eggs production will not be increased. So you have to ensure that you have a reliable water source for both hot and dry period.
- Food: To keep your flocks body functioning properly you need to supply nutrient rich units each day, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. For the laying flocks it is essential to provide them with 16 to 18 percent protein and 3 % calcium with their daily food to keep them strong and for strong egg shell. Many of the poultry farmers try to save money by feeding household food scraps and scratch grains. It remarkably doesn’t increase the egg production.
- Clean coops: Which raising system you are using doesn’t matter. The thing that really do matter is the environment where you raising your birds. You must avoid crowding and you must try to keep the environment as clean as possible. Poultry battery cage with automatic manure cleaning system may help you to solve this problem. And you should not allow any visitors to your farm and if you need to make a visit you should take a shower before you visit. You should avoid clothing like baseball cap, shoes etc.
- Provide nest Boxes: To get eggs clean, nice and intact-you need to persuade your birds to lay eggs where you want. Don’t let them lay eggs in some corner of the coop. To do this job perfectly you can buy easy to clean nest boxes from any poultry supply companies or you can build one as you want. Place those boxes at least two feet off the ground and keep a layer of soft litter like non toxic wood shaving. But if you need a better way, we still think you should buy the chicken cage, the automatic egg collection system may necessary for a big chicken farm.
Egg eating is a common thing among the hungry chicken and one chicken can teach the other to do the same thing. So don’t let them grow this habit. Most of the chicken finishes laying eggs by 10 am so knowing the exact time you have to collect the eggs before a hungry hen attacks it.
- Set an artificial light source: Light is another good factor which controls the egg production. For maximum egg production 14 hours of light is needed. Hens at winter season reduce their egg production due to insufficient of light and its intensity. But if you install an artificial light source in your farm and ensure 14 hours of light with sufficient intensity. You will be able to increase the egg production rate.
- Clean the eggs: Frequent egg collection with dry, clean, uncovered coops and nest box will last a long time keeping your bird’s eggs clean.
If the eggs are found to be clean you don’t need to wash it again, it will remove the invisible protective layer. If the amount of dirt is small, you can follow these:
- Dry clean the eggs with the help of fine grit sandpaper.
- You can use weight washing. But if you do it improperly bacteria can be sucked into the eggs.
- Do not store the eggs with odorous foods.
How to identify the laying hens?
To determine the hens which are egg laying chickens, first you have to know about the types of hens you are using it is important to determine the hens. In many breeds, the hens which are laying eggs have a large red combs and wattles. In other types of breed, the hens which are laying eggs have a normal combs and wattles but it becomes fade after the laying period. Hens like Plymouth Rocks and Rhode Island Reds have yellow pigment in their skin and it is a good indication to identify the laying cycle the hens are now. The hens lose the pigments in a specific order. First the color start to fade from the vent, then start to fade in face and last of all the feet.
There is another method of identifying the hens which are laying now is by evaluating the level of fat in the abdominal and abdomen capacity which can be measured by measuring the distance between the breast bones or between the pubic bones or by measuring the distance between the pubic bones and tip of the keel.
What’s The Reason of Hens to Stop Laying Eggs?
There are many reasons which affect hens not to lay eggs. If your hens stop laying eggs you can ask the following question to find out the reasons.
- Does your hens lay eggs for more than 10 month or more? If the answer is yes then remember that your hens are at the end of the laying cycle. Now it will stop eggs production and go through a molt. It will take a break and then it will start laying eggs again. But if your answer is no then make an investigation, there are something else which is causing the lack of egg production.
- Are you supplying enough clean water? If the hens can’t drink, they will not eat. So you have to make sure that you have a good watering system for your hens. You have to keep your watering system operational. It can be a challenging task for you in winter season when the water becomes frozen. You can buy waterers which have attached heater. It will prevent water from being frozen. Problems can occur in summer too. The hens will stop drinking water if the temperature is too high.
- Are the hens eating right feed? If your hens eat wrong food and if they don’t get enough feed. It will molt repeatedly and reduce the egg production.
- Do you provide enough light? Light has a direct impact on egg production. If you don’t provide enough light, your hens will decrease the production rate. So, you have to provide sufficient light to increase egg production rate.
- Do your hens are infected by parasites? Both internal and external parasite can affect the production rate. So you have to be careful.
Egg Production Costs and Estimated Profits
First we start with the cost. We can divide the cost into different sectors.
Feed expenses: The feed cost for chicken is about $.5/lb. A hen eats about 1/4 lb per day. and if you have about 40 hens then the cost for feed is:
- 40 birds * 1/4lb=10lb per day
- 10 lb * $.5 =$5 dollar
- $5 * 365 =1825 dollar per year
Labor expense: This is another big one. It involves visiting chicken house to check water and feed supply, collect eggs, cleaning and inspecting eggs. It is:
- 30 min per day 4 hours in a week.
- Around 200 hours a year. (If my labor cost is $3 per hour then)
- $3 x 200 = $600 per year
Other costs: There are other costs too like diseases, electric bill etc. let this cost is about $400 per year.
Now we start to calculate the income and profit from our hens.
Income: We have 40 hens which also includes poor and 3 years old layer. So we get 5 eggs per week, 40 hens give 5×40 = 200 eggs per week. And at winter season if we do not use any artificial lighting system, our hens gives us 80 eggs per week.
- 40 weeks at 200 eggs/week = 8000 eggs
- 12 weeks at 80 eggs/week = 960 eggs
- Total 8960 eggs = 745 dozen (Here we assume the price of each dozen egg is $6. So we have $6 x 745 = $4470.)
- We spent 1825+600+400=$2825 per year.
- Our profit is 4470-2852=$1645 per year.
Anyway, it’s just a sample, the price of eggs may differ in different countries.
Free range chicken farming is a very profitable business, and many people are making money all over the world by raising free range and backyard chickens. However, to build a successful, sustainable free range poultry farming business, you require sufficient knowledge of how to efficiently raise free range organic chickens, good management skills, and a good poultry farming business plan. This article will outline how to start a free range chicken production business, and the business plan.
Free range chicken and backyard poultry production is a profitable business, however there are some essential things you have to do before you venture into the business enterprise. You have to decide on the size of your project i.e. the number of birds you want to keep per cycle; location of the company e.g. a poultry farm, and your target market. These options will be impacted by the total amount of funds that you have, along with the dimensions of your target industry. If you do not have a lot of funds, you can always start small and expand your business , remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You also need to perform market study (Who are you going to sell the birds to? At what cost?) And write a business plan before you venture into the poultry business.
The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, regards Chicken business as a good, profitable business. He is donating thousands of chickens as a means of empowering people to earn an income by starting chicken farming businesses. In his article on his website, “Why I would raise Chickens”, Bill Gates says Chickens are a good investment which can generate a lot of income for the people. as they have a multiplicative effect, due to the fact that they lay and hatch eggs frequently, thus multiplying the size of your flock.
What you need
LAND, HOUSING AND EQUIPMENT
The kind of housing you need and the size of this property will depend on the size of your poultry endeavor. When choosing the location for your poultry business, you need to balance the need for closeness to the market, together with the expense of property, labour expenses, safety, and a fantastic water source. When you are planning to construct a free range chicken house, you have to pick a location which is well-drained with lots of pure air movement. The right housing should have proper ventilation and the right lighting. Ventilation is necessary so that sufficient air exchange can happen. If you want to make eggs year-round, you will need to install adequate lighting on your own facility. You ought to have equipment including feeders, drinkers, lighting system and nest boxes.
Free range chickens need adequate space for them to develop nicely, they should not be bloated, otherwise they might suffocate to death and that will lead to a significant loss in your business. Every free range poultry requires approximately 0.1 square meters of floor area. Which translates to 10 birds per square meter. Hence the size of the free range poultry home will depend on the number of critters to be reared. Your housing may be barns, chicken conducts or hutches, and the cost of building will be dependent on the materials used, and how big the free range poultry home. Free range chickens also need pasture for them to forage. Among the significant difference between broiler chickens and free range chickens, is that broilers are raised inside, confined to the broiler house, while free range chickens will invest most of the day outdoors, foraging the pastures and plants.
DAY OLD CHICKS
You need day old chicks to start your free range chicken poultry farming business. After getting experience, you may then hatch your own chicks, which will greatly reduce your expenses as you will no longer need to buy day old chicks. You should purchase your day old chicks from a reliable accredited hatchery or company where the parent stocks are well managed. If you are new to the free range poultry business, you should enquire from other farmers to hear where they buy their chicks from. The success of your free range poultry business will partly depend on the quality of day old chicks which you buy.
There are many different breeds of chicken, and the right breed to choose will depend on your needs. You can do a free range chicken business for selling meat, for selling eggs, or for both meat and eggs. The Rhode Island Red chicken breed can be raised for both meat and eggs. They produce about 250 eggs per year. The Light Sussex chicken breed is also a dual purpose breed, for both meat and egg production. White Leghorns breed chickens are usually used as layer birds. They can lay up to 300 eggs a year, each egg weighing a minimum of 55 grams. The Boschveld chicken breed is usually found in Africa, and it can withstand varying climatic conditions. It’s also a dual purpose breed, which can be raised or both meat and egg production. There are many other breeds which include Golden Comet, Barred Plymouth Rock, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Australorp e.t.c.
FEED AND NUTRITION
Feeding is important so as to increase the production of meat and eggs from the free range chickens and backyard chickens. Lack of feed or water will reduce resistance to diseases and parasites, and subsequently increase flock mortality. In a free range poultry rearing system, adult hens and cocks ought to be given enough time and space for scavenging in the surroundings daily. The best time for scavenging is early morning and late afternoon when there are plenty of insects and less heat. Supplementary feeds should be offered in the morning and evening when the free range chickens come back for the night. Clean water should be provided in shady areas during the day to avoid heat stress. You will also need proper vaccines and medications to prevent diseases and promote growth of your free range and backyard chickens.
The advantage of rearing free range chickens is that they will get most of their food from scavenging the surroundings, thus the feed costs are minimized. However, if you are keeping free range chickens for commercial purposes, food from foraging the surroundings is not enough. You will need to supplement their diet with commercial stock feeds, or your own home made feed. You can also give them maize, sorghum, wheat, rice e.t.c.
MANAGEMENT AND LABOUR
The number of farm workers you need will depend on the size of your free range and backyard chicken project. If you are running a small business e.g. 100 birds/cycle, you and your family may be enough to take care of the chickens. However, if you are rearing 2000 birds per cycle, you will need full time employees to manage the free range chickens. There is need for good technical knowledge of free range chickens rearing techniques for success in the business. You also need good management skills.
The amount of capital required for a free range poultry farming business depends on the scale of the project. Sources of capital include bank loans, and equity investors.Don’t have access to capital? Start small, and grow your business overtime! Free range chickens are very profitable, so if you reinvest the profits you get, you can quickly grow.
MARKET FOR FREE RANGE CHICKENS MEAT AND EGGS
The market for free range chickens is high and increasing, as more people are moving towards organic and healthier food. Many people prefer organic free range chicken meat, as compared to broiler chicken meat. This is because free range chickens are highly nutritious, delicious, organic, and healthier. Thus, the demand for free range organic chickens meat continues to rise. Free range chickens have a higher price than broiler chickens, as they are considered to be more superior.
The eggs from free range chickens are also considered to be superior as compared to the eggs from commercial indoor layer chickens. Free range chicken eggs are considered to be highly nutritious, delicious, organic, and healthier. Thus, the price of free range organic eggs is higher as compared to the usual poultry eggs. You can supply your free range chicken meat and eggs to individual households, butchers, schools, restaurants, companies, supermarkets, organizations, events, abattoirs etc. You can sell your free range chicken as live birds or you can slaughter and freeze them and sell them as dressed chicken. As you grow your business, you will also be able to export your free range organic products.
“Health is Wealth”— this saying also applies to chickens…
The best feed and housed stock with the best genetic potential will not grow and produce efficiently if they become diseased or infested with parasites. Therefore good poultry health management is an important component of poultry production. Infectious disease causing agents will spread through a flock very quickly because of the high stocking densities of commercially housed poultry.
For poultry health management to be effective a primary aim must be to prevent the onset of disease or parasites, to recognise at an early stage the presence of disease or parasites, and to treat all flocks that are diseased or infested with parasites as soon as possible and before they develop into a serious condition or spread to other flocks. To be able to do this it is necessary to know how to recognise that the birds are diseased, the action required for preventing or minimising disease and how to monitor for signs that the prevention program is working.
Principles of Health Management
The key principles of poultry health management are:
- Prevention of disease
- Early recognition of disease
- Early treatment of disease
As much as possible disease should be prevented. It is easier and less damaging to prevent disease than it is to treat it. However, it must not be assumed that all disease can be prevented. Inevitably, some will get past the defenses, in which case it becomes imperative that the condition be recognised as early as possible to allow treatment or other appropriate action to be implemented as soon as possible to bring the situation under control to limit damage to the flock.
“An Ounce of Prevention Is Better Than A Pound of Cure”
A disease is any condition that interferes with the normal functioning of the cells, tissues, organs and the whole body systems. Diseases of poultry have many causes and include:
- Deficiencies of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or other nutrients.
- The consumption of toxic substances such as poisons.
- Physical damage e.g. environmental extremes and injury.
- Internal and external parasite infestations such as lice and worms.
- Infectious disease caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
Diseases that result from nutrient deficiencies, consumption of toxic substances and physical damage are referred to as non-infectious diseases. These diseases cannot be passed from bird to bird and members of the flock must share a common experience for individuals to contract these non-infectious diseases. In the widest sense, infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms that include parasites, fungi, protozoa, bacteria, mycoplasmas, chlamydia and viruses. These diseases are often also called contagious diseases meaning that they can be passed from one bird to another either directly or indirectly.
Direct transmission occurs when one diseased bird passes the cause of the disease via direct contact to a susceptible healthy bird. Such passage may be horizontal transmission (from one bird to another) or vertical transmission (from parent to offspring) via the egg or sperm either inside the egg or on the shell. Indirect transmission occurs when the causal organism is passed from one bird to another via an intermediate host such as insects, earthworms, snails or slugs, wild birds or animals or some other object such as equipment, food or water, vehicles, people, respiratory droplets, litter or faeces.
Causes of infectious disease
Organisms and microorganisms that have the potential to cause harm, such as disease in animals, are called pathogens or disease vectors. There are many different types of pathogens that may be transferred from one bird to another or from one flock to another by many different means. These pathogen types include:
- Internal parasites
- External parasites
Viruses are the smallest pathogens and can only be seen through an electron microscope. Viruses consist of an outer layer/s surrounding special protein material similar to the genetic material of the cells they invade. They can multiply and do harm only when inside the animal cell and if they invade and damage enough cells, the animal can show signs of that infection.
Antibiotics and other medications as a rule do not affect viruses and, as a consequence, there are very few medications that can treat diseases caused by viruses, although there are times when a drug may be used to control secondary infections. The best way to manage diseases caused by viruses is by quarantine and good hygiene to lower the challenge, and vaccination to maximise the birds’ immunity to future challenges. Some have the ability to survive for very long periods of time in the bird dander and feather debris, litter and manure, insects and rodents.
Bacteria are single cell organisms with a nucleus and multiply by simple fission, which means that one divides into two, and some can do this very quickly inside the host or in a suitable environment. Some are very fragile and do not survive long outside of the host while others may survive for long periods even in a harsh environment. Many have the ability to turn into spores by forming a very tough wall that protects them from most of the materials used to kill them. These types of bacteria are much more susceptible to these compounds when not in the spore form.
Bacteria may be described as being gram positive or gram negative. This characteristic is to do with differences in their cell walls that affects their staining for viewing under the microscope. Whether they are one or the other also influences their response to certain chemicals, including disinfectants.
Different types of bacteria harm the birds in two predominant ways:
- Those that attack and damage the birds’ cells or spaces between the cells.
- Those that produce toxins or poisons that harm the birds.
There are several antibiotics and other drugs that are effective against different bacteria. However, quarantine and good hygiene that lower the numbers to be targeted by the drugs are the important first lines of defense against these organisms.
Chlamydia are a little larger than viruses. They live inside the cells they infect particularly in the cells of the respiratory system. They can be treated with antibiotics.
These are single cell organisms slightly larger than chlamydia. They have a cell wall and nucleus. The most commonly known disease caused by this organism is Mycoplasmosis or Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD) caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum. Diseases caused by Mycoplasma organisms respond to some antibiotics. These organisms do not survive long outside of the host and good quarantine and hygiene procedures coupled with a suitable house de-population period will provide good control.
Fungi are organisms larger than bacteria and are considered to be members of the plant kingdom. They multiply by forming spores that are released and enter the local environment. When conditions are satisfactory the spores start to grow to repeat the cycle.
Fungi harm the birds in two ways:
- By being taken into the body e.g. in the respiratory system where they start to grow.
- By producing toxins or poisons e.g. in the food. When the birds consume the contaminated food the toxin affects them. A good example of this type of damage is aflatoxin produced by certain moulds or fungi that commonly grow in peanut meal and some litter materials. Moulds or fungi are resistant to nearly all antibiotics.
Protozoa are single cell organisms larger than bacteria. Protozoa have a complex reproduction system that, in many cases, allows them to multiply into extremely high numbers very quickly. A good example of protozoan diseases is coccidiosis of poultry.
Protozoa generally harm the birds by destroying tissue. A number of chemicals have been developed that can be used to treat birds infected by the different protozoans. Others have been developed that interfere with the protozoan life cycle and may be used as preventive treatments while the birds develop a natural immunity. These preventive drugs are often referred to as coccidiastats.
Parasites are organisms that live off the host. Internal parasites in poultry are multi-celled organisms that live inside the bird usually located in specific organs. Most internal parasites, and particularly those found in Australia, are visible to the naked eye.
While there are many different internal parasites found in poultry, only three are likely to cause harm. These are:
- Large round worms
- Caecal worms
- Tape worms
These parasites live outside of the bird. Some spend all of their life on the bird while others spend only some time on the birds. Some cause harm by irritating the bird while others are bloodsuckers that, in sufficient quantity, will cause anaemia. Some of the bloodsuckers often carry organisms called spirochaetes that they inject into the bird while feeding. The spirochaetes may cause harm and tick fever is a good example that can kill many birds.
Prevention of disease
This aspect of poultry management must receive constant, close attention. Failure to maintain a high standard will usually result in an unhealthy flock. The basis of poultry health management is:
- The isolation of the flock from disease causing organisms – quarantine.
- The destruction of as many harmful organisms as possible – hygiene.
- The use of an appropriate vaccination program – trigger the birds’ immune system.
- The use of appropriate preventive medication programs – for diseases for which there are no vaccines.
- The use of a suitable monitoring program – to monitor for the presence of disease organisms and the success or failure of the hygiene program or the vaccination program.
The principle need is to maintain control over the means of entry by disease causing organisms. These may enter by several routes:
- Poultry – introducing stock as day old chickens is considered to be the lowest risk method of restocking a poultry farm. Older birds are more likely to be diseased or at least carriers of disease, even if not showing signs.
- Wild birds/other animals – these often carry the causes of disease and are likely to fly or move from one poultry farm to another if the farms are close enough. The best way to prevent this is to ensure a suitable distance between farms and a minimum of 5 km is recommended. A security fence 2 metres high and with a controlled entry gate should surround the poultry farm and all sheds should be protected from entry by wild birds and all other animals by secure wire netting.
- Wind – insects and dust carried on the wind from infected to clean farms may also carry the causal organisms of infectious disease. The best way to prevent this is to ensure a suitable distance between farms and a minimum of 5 km is recommended. This distance is influenced by the direction of the prevailing wind. Insects and dust travel further with the wind than against it, and the presence or absence of barriers in the form of hills and high vegetation that catch the dust or insects.
- People and vehicles – the most common visitors, including vehicles, are very likely to be those that have had contact with other poultry whether they be chicken delivery vehicles, feed delivery vehicles, service people and their vehicles or neighbours in the same business. Entry should only be given to essential visitors and people and vehicles should enter only through a disinfectant wash facility and visitors through a shower/change facility. Disinfectant footbaths and a change of footwear prior to entry to each shed are also recommended. In some circumstances a shower and change of clothing should be required prior to entry to all poultry house. The organisation of staff around the farm is also of importance. Wherever possible, staff should be restricted to one location. However, in some situations there is a need for staff to move from one shed to another. In these cases the principle requirement is to do so in a way that carries the least risk. This means that the normal practice is to move from youngest to oldest flocks on the farm, leaving disease flocks, no matter their age till last.
- Used equipment – no used equipment should be allowed entry to a poultry farm. If it becomes necessary to allow such entry or to move equipment from one house to another, it should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to doing so.
- Food and water – when a diseased bird eats or drinks from a trough it will leave behind contaminated food or water. While it is difficult to prevent this within one pen, if possible, the choice of feeder and drinker may minimize or slow down the transfer of disease from one bird to another. Under no circumstances should open feeders and drinkers extend from one pen to another. All drinkers and feeders should be kept clean even if they have to be cleaned daily.
- Flies and rodents – in addition to the points raised in relation to distance from other flocks to minimise the movement of insects and animals from one farm to another, all fly and rodent populations should be controlled because they can carry disease causing organisms and pass them on to the stock.
The practice of good hygiene kills microorganisms, including those that cause disease, and all farms carry populations of microorganisms. Therefore, good hygiene practices are an important part of poultry health management. There is an overlapping in the use of the terms quarantine and hygiene.
Good hygiene practices include:
- The thorough cleaning of poultry houses and equipment after each flock has been removed.
- The use of vehicle disinfection and wash facilities.
- The use of foot baths at the entry to each house.
- The provision of footwear at the entry to each shed.
- The use of clean litter material after washing the shed and not re-using litter. Litter in the poultry house should be managed to maintain it in a dry friable state without caking or being too wet.
- Removing all dead birds daily and disposing them in a recommended manner.
- Maintaining all houses and ancillary buildings and surrounds in a clean and tidy state.
There are a number of factors that influence whether a bird will succumb to a disease. These include:
- Genetic resistance of the birds: some genotypes are more resistant than others to infection generally while there are those that are more resistant or susceptible to specific diseases. For example, there are significant differences between at least some genotypes in their resistance to Marek’s Disease.
- State of well-being of the birds in the flock: birds that are well fed and managed and kept in general good health will have a high level of well-being. Such birds are more likely to fend off an infection than those that have a low level of well-being. The immune system of unthrifty birds is usually significantly weakened.
- Level of stress in the flock: stress in a poultry flock may be caused by many situations including overcrowding, environment extremes, poor quality food and nutritional deficiencies, harassment and failure by shed staff to react in a timely manner to changing situations in the house. Stress reduces the ability of the bird to fight infection by weakening the immune system.
- The challenge or numbers of infectious organisms in the bird’s environment: the greater the number or virulence (strength) of the micro-organisms the more likely they are to defeat the birds’ defense and result in a disease. Quarantine and hygiene are the main ways that the number of potentially harmful micro-organisms are kept as low as possible.
- The level of immunity the birds have: this determines how well the bird can fight invasion by specific infectious organisms. Whether a bird will succumb to an infectious disease depends on the relationship between the number of infectious organisms in the environment and the level of immunity in the bird. The function of the immune system is to defend the bird against invasion by specific infectious organisms.
Many disease outbreaks only occur because there are predisposing circumstances that ensure the success of the invasion by the causal organisms. Stress in the flock is a major factor in this regard. A high level of stress reduces the bird’s ability to fight the invasion by disease causing organisms. Stress, in this regard, may be environment extremes, overcrowding, nutrient deficiencies (even marginal deficiencies), infection, harassment or any other factor with the potential to stress the bird.
In some situations, a primary infection may reduce the ability of the bird to fight invasion by other organisms called secondary invaders or subsequent invaders. In many cases the bird is able to live without harm with the secondary invaders until such time their defences are lowered by the primary infection. It is in this situation that the secondary invaders cause serious harm.
A good example of this situation is the disease, collibacillosis. Collibacillosis is caused by a bacteria called Escherichia coli which is endemic in the environment and, provided normal standards of hygiene are practised and the bird is well nourished and managed, causes no real harm. However, quite often, an invasion by the organism Mycoplasma gallisepticum opens the way for the E. coli bacteria to become virulent, or for more virulent strains to gain entry resulting in the disease collibacillosis.
From the point of view of flock health management, disease in poultry may be one of two levels of severity:
- Sub-clinical: a sub-clinical disease is one where the signs are not obvious. The birds do not appear to be sick but the infection causes slower growth and/or lower egg production. Sub-clinical disease may predispose to secondary invasion by other organisms. The only evidence that the birds are infected is the lower production efficiency found on an analysis of performance. In many cases this is not found until much of the financial damage has been done.
- Clinical: a clinical disease is one where the signs that the birds are sick are more obvious. They show the clinical signs typical of the disease with which they are infected. Clinical disease not only affects the performance of the flock but, in many cases, a number of the birds die or never recover to their previous performance level and remain unthrifty.
In each case, affected birds and in many cases recovered birds, are carriers that may be a source of infection for other stock with which they have contact and may transfer the causal organism either directly or indirectly to other stock not involved in this particular outbreak.
Vaccination is aimed at triggering the birds immune system to produce antibodies to fight infection. While not all diseases can be vaccinated against, all potential infectious disease threats should be identified and a suitable vaccination program developed to help combat those that can. Veterinary advice may be necessary to design a suitable vaccination program for each farm.
The keys to effective vaccination are:
- The potency of the vaccine used and/or its suitability for the disease strain to be controlled.
- The handling and storage procedures for the vaccine during travel and on the farm.
- The use of the recommended application techniques.
- The adherence to the recommended program.
Vaccines are not available to combat all disease threats. It may be necessary to use a preventive medication to combat infection by some organisms. Veterinary advice may be necessary to determine an appropriate preventive medication program.
It is not possible to see most infectious agents. Therefore, it is appropriate to have a monitoring program. This may consist of:
- Daily checks of the flock.
- Regular on-farm and laboratory autopsies.
- Blood sampling for laboratory analysis.
- Exposing plates and taking swabs for laboratory analysis.
These techniques can be used to monitor the current disease situation including the presence of parasites, the success or failure of cleaning procedures and the success or failure of vaccinating procedures.
Recognising healthy and sick birds
A very important skill for all poultry stock persons to have is the ability to differentiate between healthy and sick birds. It is normal when a flock is diseased to find healthy birds and those with varying degrees of illness. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to tell as early as possible when some of the birds in the pen are sick.
While you may be able to identify some diseases from available evidence, it is unlikely that they will be able to identify all. However, the sooner a disease is noticed in the flock, the sooner appropriate action can be taken. This may include initiation of a medication program, send specimens to the laboratory for examination and diagnosis, and/or to call in expert advice. Early action not only gives the manager a chance to cure the condition but it may help prevent it spreading to other stock.
A healthy bird will:
- Be active and alert.
- Be normal size/weight for the strain, age and sex.
- Have no lameness or paralysis.
- Have no injuries.
- Have no deformities.
- Have no discharges from the nostrils or eyes.
- Have no stained feathers around the vent.
- Have no swellings.
- Generally have good plumage related to the whether in a moult or in lay.
A sick bird will show some or all of the following signs:
- Isolation – sick animals usually seek a quiet place out of the way of others.
- Hunched stance – sick birds often have a hunched stance with ruffled feathers and eyes partially closed.
- Diarrhea – usually evidenced by stained feathers in the vent region.
- Paralysis – of the leg(s), wing(s) or neck.
- Sneezing and/or coughing; there may be nasal discharge.
- Blood in the faeces.
- Swellings – of the joints.
- Loss of weight – this may be pronounced if the condition is a chronic one e.g. Marek’s Disease.
- Unexpected changes to the food and water consumption – often the first signs of illness.
- Slower growth or a drop in egg production.
It is normal to find a continuous low level of mortality and a small number of unthrifty birds in the poultry flock. Even though this does occur, attempts should be made to reduce even this “normal” mortality. Normal levels will be in the vicinity of 4% to 40 days for meat chickens, less than 5% to point of lay for layer and breeder replacements and less than 1% per 28 days for layers and breeders.
Source: Health and Welfare, Principles of Health and Welfare: Book 1, NSW Agriculture, MCA, 1995.
Your own backyard chickens need to eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet so that they will have the best growth, weight gain, egg production and immunity from different poultry diseases.
Before, we had to formulate our own poultry feeds by combining different kinds of grains, like corn and wheat. Today, it’s fortunately a lot easier; most feed stores provide pre-formulated chicken feed rations that offer our backyard birds the precise balance of nutrients they need.
We should learn on the specific nutritional requirements of our chickens so that we will be able to discover the most effective feed rations in buying the ingredients of our chicken feed. This article, will guide you precisely on what your hungry chickens are craving!
Feeding Schedules and Types of Feed
Just like humans, chickens have completely different needs at various stages of its life. Different kinds of chickens has their own unique feeding needs. For instance, layers nutritional requirements are quite different than those of the broilers.
For Layers, from 0-6 weeks a starter feed should be given to the chicks with 20-22 percent protein level. At 6 weeks start feeding them pullet grower which has 14-16% protein until they reach 20 weeks. Afterwards, provide them a layer feed with a protein content of 15-18%. Since layer feed is usually more expensive, the poultry experts advice to substitute 1/2 pound of grain such as barley or corn for 1/2 pound of poultry ration every day. On this way, you can save more money but still giving the best nutrients for the layers.
For Broilers, from 0-6 weeks the protein content should be 20-24%. Then, give them broiler finisher with a protein level of 16-20% until they are sent to be slaughtered.
Expert Advice on the Proper Feeding Amounts
As the poultry saying goes, “fat hens are not happy hens”. We should not feed our chickens too much as it can be very expensive that would hurt our budget and the chicken’s health as well. According to the University of California-Davis, the recommended feeding for layer hens should be-
- Chick starter: 2 to 2.9 lbs. per chick for the first six weeks
- Pullet grower: 12 to 13 lbs. per pullet for approximately 14 weeks
- Layer feed: 1.8 to 2.4 lbs. per week per layer hen
For broiler chickens,
- Broiler starter: 3 to 5 lbs. per chick 0-6 weeks old
- Broiler Finisher: 1.6 to 2 lbs. each chicken until slaughter
Why Chickens Need Fresh Water
Water is one of the most important things to consider when feeding our backyard chickens. Just like we humans, the body of our chickens consist mostly of water. As poultry farmers, we should ensure that our flock have easy access to fresh, clean and potable water all throughout the day. It is also necessary to clean the waterers everyday to avoid diseases caused by dirty water.
It is the responsibility of a farmer to supply adequate, clean, and pathogen-free water to his or her animals. One importance of water to livestock is that it determines the performance of animals. For instance, a laying hen that hasn’t taken enough water will have no good and impressive laying performance. This is because water is highly essential in egg formation.
Some other importance of water to chickens are as follows;
Water is important in the digestion of food and feeds.
It is used in homeostasis in chicken’s body.
- It is required for cooling down the body temperature.
- It is vital for faecal excretion.
- It is required for metabolic reactions in an animal’s body.
So as feed, nutrition, and the health of poultry are being taken seriously, water intake should be taken important. When planning to establish a farm, the source of clean water to serve animals on the farm should be highly considered.
In summary, chickens needed to be served sufficient and cool water, and it must be free from any forms of contamination. The water must be from a clean and healthy source and must be served with clean water troughs. If chickens are starved of water for a very long time, they die and that will be a loss to the farmer. Water must be available for chicken at all times, except in situations where there is need to withdraw water from them. Birds such as broilers and layers are very sensitive to water and it is a factor that determines their production and performance.
What is Brooding in Poultry Production?
Brooding is defined as the management of chicks from one day old to about 8 weeks of age, and it involves the provision of heat and other necessary care during chicks’ early growing period. Brooding units are designed to house chicks from one day old until they no longer need supplementary heat (0-8 weeks). Growing pens are used from the end of the brooding period until the broilers are sold or the pullets moved into permanent laying houses (up to 20 weeks). Laying pens or cages are used for pullets and hens from the time they start laying until they are culled and sold at the end of the laying period (up to 78 weeks).
The natural method of brooding is used on farms where only a few chickens are raised each year. Depending on her size, a hen will brood 15-20 chickens. The broody hen will provide all the warmth required by the chicks. Before placing the chicks with the hen she would be examined for her good health and free from lice, tick and other ectoparasites.
Artificial brooding can be defined as the handling of newly born chicks without the aid of hens. It is accomplished by means of a temperature-controlled brooder (foster mother). Artificial brooding has several advantages over the natural method, which are:
- Chicks may be reared at any time of the seasons.
- Thousands of chicks may be brooded by a single person.
- Sanitary condition may be controlled.
- The temperature may be regulated.
- Feeding may be undertaken according to plan.
Brooding temperature is the temperature inside the poultry where the chicks are roaming. It is a very important variable that every poultry farmer should look closer as it could affect the growth and health of the chicks. To reduce stress and mortality, the brooding temperature should be checked always so that we will know if the temperature is just enough for the chicks. This article will guide you to have a good understanding whether you have provided the optimal environmental temperature for your chicks.
The essentials of a good brooder are:
A dependable mechanism for controlling temperature and regular supply of fresh air, dryness, adequate light, space, easy disinfection, protection against chick enemies, safety from fire, and economic in construction.
Management of Chicks in the Brooder
- Adjust the temperature as per requirement of the chicks. In case of oil heating, see that there is no defect in the stove or lamp. Chicks should not have access to the heated parts of the lamp at any cost.
- Avoid a damp poultry house. You can use a deep litter system.
- Discourage litter eating by the chicks, scatter mash over egg case flats when the chicks are first taken out of their boxes.
- Provide balanced standard mash.
- Keep provision for the entrance of fresh air.
- Provide clean, fresh water in front of the birds at least twice daily.
- Chicks, after 3 weeks old may be provided chopped green grasses (to increase Vitamin A intake)
- Clean the brooders including feed hoppers daily.
- Follow a regular vaccination program.
- Avoid overcrowding as this will lead to slow growth and mortality.
- Keep the brooder in such a place that cold wind and rain does not get in.
- Daily inspect the condition of birds and their faces for any sort of abnormality.
- Keep in touch with any veterinarian for the help at the time of need.
- It is always advisable to check the fittings, temperature control, feed and water trough arrangement before shifting the chicks in the brooder.
How To Know If Your Brooding Temperature is Optimal
The best indicator how to monitor the perfect temperature inside the brooding area is easily known by the behavior and movements of the chicks with regards to heat. A general indication that the conditions in the brooding area is optimal is when you see that the chicks are scattered evenly and comfortable. Thus, you will not need to alter the temperature and humidity.
Below are illustrations on the chick behavior according to the brooding temperature conditions:
Have you ever wondered why almost all restaurants in the world offer poultry or chicken meat? From the most famous fast-food chains like McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to 7 Star Hotels like the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab in Dubai. All of them offer a common product bestseller – “foods derived from chicken meat”.
This however implies that broiler poultry farming business, ‘if done right’ would be an all-time very profitable business in the world. Thousands of success stories have evolved on this business criteria with the owners having sufficient wisdom of how to efficiently raise poultry, best management skills and a better poultry farming business plan. This article will outline how to start the business, and the broiler poultry farming business plan.
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world wrote an article on his personal blog, “Why I Would Raise Chickens” saying that poultry farming is a viable investment which can give income for the common people. He regards poultry farming business as an excellent and profitable business. Thousands of chickens are being donated to charity by the Bill Gates Foundation as a means of helping the poor community to earn money by starting poultry farming business.
Broiler chicken farming is a lucrative business, providing income for millions of people, but there are some essential things you need to do before you venture into the business. You have to decide on the size of your poultry farming business project i.e. the number of broiler chickens you want to keep per cycle; location of the poultry farming business e.g. a chicken farm , and your target market. These choices will be affected by the amount of capital you have, and the size of your target market. If you do not have a lot of capital, you can always start small and grow your broiler farming business overtime, remember, Rome was not built in a day. You also need to carry out market research (Who are you going to sell the broiler chickens to? At what price?) and write a broiler poultry farming business plan before you venture into the broiler production business.
What you need
LAND, HOUSING AND EQUIPMENT
The kind of housing you need and the size of the land will depend on the size of your poultry farming business project. When choosing the location for your poultry farming business, you have to balance the need for proximity to the market, with the cost of land, labor costs, security, and a good water supply. Your broiler poultry farming business plan should take into account all the costs of running the business.
When you are planning to construct a broiler chicken house, you have to select a site which is well-drained with plenty of natural air movement. Broiler Chickens cannot adjust well to temperature extremes, so it is very essential that the hens be housed, cared and provided with an environment that will enable them to maintain their thermal balance. You need to reduce temperature fluctuations, and this can be achieved by having the broiler chicken house oriented on an east-west axis to reduce the effect of direct sunlight on the sidewalls during the hottest part of the day. Good temperature control will enhance feed conversion and growth rate, making your poultry farming business more profitable.
Broilers chickens need sufficient space for them to grow well, they should not be crowded, otherwise they may suffocate to death and that will lead to a loss in your poultry farming business. Each broiler chicken requires about 0.1 square meters of floor space. which translates to 10 hens per square meter. So the size of the poultry house will depend on the number of birds to be reared. Your housing can be barns, chicken runs or hutches, and the cost of construction will depend on the materials used, and the size of the broiler poultry house. You also need poultry farming equipment which includes feeders, drinkers, lighting system and waste disposal system. The cost of equipment should also be take into account in your broiler poultry business plan.
DAY OLD CHICKS
You should purchase your day old chicks from a reliable accredited hatchery or company where the parent stocks are well managed. The success of your broiler poultry farming business will partly depend on the type of day old chicks which you buy. Broiler chicks from different hatcheries vary greatly in terms of quality, and thus will be a determining factor in the success of your poultry farming business venture. You should assess the quality of the chicks by checking whether they are clean, dry, have bright eyes, are active and alert, and should not have any deformity on the body.
Buy your stock from accredited hatcheries which have a comprehensive history of vaccination and health management programme for the breeding flock. If you are new to the poultry farming business, you should enquire from other farmers to hear where they buy their chicks from, as they will usually have experience with various hatcheries. When you have purchased the day old chicks, you need transport them carefully to avoid mortality, as the day old chicks are tender and must be handled with care. The costs of the chicks should be properly accounted for in your broiler chicken business plan.
FEED AND NUTRITION
To be profitable in the poultry farming business, you have to minimize the costs and the mortality rate, as well as optimize the target weight of the broiler chickens. Broiler chicken stock feeds are formulated to provide the protein, energy, vitamins and other nutrients essential for health and efficient growth of the birds. Just like with day old chicks, the type of broiler poultry feeds you choose will have a great impact on the profitability of your poultry farming business.
Most broiler chickens are sold to the market when they are six weeks old. Each bird will consume about 4 Kg of feed from 0 to 6 weeks. At this age, they will have an average of 2.2 KG to 2.5 KG. The broiler chickens are given a specific type of feed depending on the stage of production. There are 3 types of broiler poultry feeds, which are Starter feeds, Grower feeds, and Finisher feeds. The chickens also require enough water for efficient growth. You will also need a broiler stress pack/vitamin supplements which can be used to promote growth of commercial broilers and chicks, and also to combat stress during periods of high temperature, after vaccination and as an aid in recovery from disease to boost performance of the stock. All the feed costs should be included in your poultry farming business plan.
MANAGEMENT AND LABOUR FOR BROILER POULTRY BUSINESS
The number of farm workers you need will depend on the size of your poultry farming business project. If you are running a small poultry farm business e.g. 100 birds/cycle, you and your family may be enough to take care of the birds, but if you are rearing 2000 birds per cycle, you will need full time employees to manage the poultry farm. There is need for good technical knowledge of broiler poultry farming rearing techniques for success in the business, and good management skills.
CAPITAL FOR BROILER POULTRY FARMING BUSINESS
The amount of capital required for the broiler poultry business depends on the scale of the project. You can get a loan from the bank, or funding from investors, to use as capital to start your poultry farming business. If you plan to raise capital from investors and a loan from the bank, you need a good poultry farming business plan. If you don’t have access to investors and bank loan, you can use your personal savings and start small, and grow your business overtime. Broiler chickens are very profitable, so if you reinvest the profits you get, you can quickly grow. Even if you are not planning to get a loan, you should still get a broiler poultry farming business plan to guide you in starting and operating the business.
MARKET FOR BROILER CHICKENS
The market for broiler chickens is very huge and is ever increasing. The annual global demand of broiler chickens is 90 million tonnes. That’s a lot! You can supply your broiler chickens to individual households, butchers, schools, restaurants, companies, supermarkets, organizations, events, abattoirs etc. You can sell your broilers as live birds or you can slaughter and freeze them and sell them as dressed chicken. The broiler poultry farming business plan ought to include a proper marketing plan to use in your poultry farming business.
The export market is also very huge! As you grow your broiler production business you will be able to export the meat to other countries. The largest importer of broiler chickens is the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is a political and economic alliance by six Middle Eastern countries which are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Currently, the top producers of broiler chickens are United States of America, Brazil, China, European Union, India, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Thailand and Indonesia. The largest importers of the meat include the previously mentioned Gulf Cooperation Council, Japan, Mexico, European Union, Iraq, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Philippines.
As we have stated severally in numerous other articles, poultry feeding is the single largest cost in poultry production. It accounts for between 65% to 70% of the total cost of production. That is where many small scale farmers and larger commercial enterprises are now opting to formulate their own poultry feeds.
If you have all the ingredients and equipment ready for poultry feed formulation, there are certain important factors that you need to keep in mind before you begin formulating your poultry feeds on a massive scale. These include the following:-
- If you will be making homemade poultry feed rations, it is important to start with experimental trials of the poultry feed formulation. You can do this by isolating some of the chickens and feeding them formulated rations and then observing them to see any changes in performance. If the feed rations are ok, the broilers will still grow fast and you will not see a drop in layer performance. Make sure you do the trials before introducing the poultry feed rations to the entire poultry flock.
- When formulating poultry feeds, you need to be extra careful with the quality of raw materials or poultry feed ingredients used in the poultry feed formulation. Chickens are generally highly sensitive to feed that is contaminated with mycotoxins that are generally found in numerous raw materials, particularly the grains. Avoid using rotten maize to make poultry feed at all costs!
- Purchase high quality fishmeal from very reputable sources. Avoid buying fishmeal from the open market as these might be contaminated.
- Ensure that you have mixed up all the micronutrients such as amino acids and probiotics before you mix them up with the rest of the poultry feeds.
- There are milling machines with mixers and pelletizers that are used for processing and mixing the ingredients of the poultry feed. If you are doing a homemade poultry feed formulation without the right sets of machinery, you can use a drum mixer to mix the ingredients of the poultry feeds. Avoid using shovels as they are unlikely to give you an optimal poultry feed ingredients mixture.
- Avoid using spoilt or rotten maize or corn at all costs. Such raw materials can be dangerous as they might carry mycotoxins that may be passed over into the human system when you consume poultry eggs or poultry meat.
- Pool together with other small scale poultry farmers in order to buy and divide some of the ingredients used in poultry feed formulation such as pre-mixes and amino acids among others.
- To improve on the poultry feed quality, make sure that the feed that you have prepared has been tested to determine if it has optimal amounts of ingredients. There could be lab facilities in your locality that can offer poultry feed testing services.
Poultry feeding is the single biggest cost in poultry production. It is estimated that poultry feeds account for between 65% to 70% of the total production cost. That is a significant cost. This article will tell you on how to make your own chicken feeds and increasing your profits as a result.
To cut down on the cost of production or to be simply self-sufficient in their poultry farming enterprises, many farmers are now moving towards growing their own poultry feeds or at least formulating their own poultry feeds. There are lots of advantages associated with formulating poultry feeds on your own and you can generally take this to any level that you wish. Some farmers have grown their poultry farming enterprises to the level where they have now become poultry feeds suppliers for other poultry producers.
If you know how to make your own chicken feeds or can grow and mill your own poultry feed, you won’t have to spend money on buying poultry feeds on a regular basis and that can lead to significant cost reductions in the poultry farming enterprise.
Besides, formulating your own poultry feeds gives you greater control on the kind of nutrition that you are feeding your chickens. As a poultry feed miller, you will have an idea of the bulk ingredients used in formulating the poultry feeds as well as the composition of the poultry feeds. You won’t have to worry about the quality and composition of the poultry feeds that you are giving your chickens.
Poultry feed formulation is also great for farmers who would wish to avoid using certain ingredients such as the genetically modified corn and soya.
The main challenge when it comes to making your own poultry feed is knowing the right kinds of ingredients to use in the poultry feeds and adding these in the right proportions. There is a concept called least cost feed formulation and this gives you plenty of options when it comes to formulating your own poultry feeds. There are numerous options for ingredients that you can use to create custom mixes for poultry feeds at the lowest prices possible.
Here is a look at some of the grains that you can use in poultry feed formulation and the proportions in which these grains should be mixed to give you optimal rations for your poultry feeds.
Ingredients to Put in Your Poultry Feeds
So what are some of the ingredients that you should use in formulating your poultry feeds? And in what proportions should these be mixed? Various poultry nutrition experts have their ideas on what the ideal poultry feed recipe should be like. There is no universal formula for making chicken feeds and in many cases, you will have to customize the poultry feed formula to suit your local geographical conditions. There are some ingredients that you can grow easily in your backyard while some you’d rather purchase. Some are cheap while others are fairly costly to acquire.
It is important to carefully study the ingredients that have been used in the commercial poultry feeds for you to get a clear idea of the main percentages that you should aim for. Birds will only grow at an optimal rate if you have the right amount of the ingredients, be they the proteins or the carbohydrates. If you are a little lower in the nutritional requirements, your feeds will still be safe for the chickens to consume but they may not grow as fast as desired.
When making your own poultry feeds, you must make sure that you strike the right balance for all the macronutrients that are required in the poultry feeds including the carbohydrates, proteins and fats and the micronutrients required in the poultry feeds such as the enzymes and vitamins. A little trial and error might be necessary before you can strike the right balance for your poultry feeds.
Below is a list of some of the ingredients that you should factor in when preparing your chicken feeds. The information that we have provided below is just a general guidelines but at the end of the day, your custom poultry feed mixes must include what is best for your needs.
Ingredients for the Main Poultry Feeds
These can include the following:-
- Alfalfa meal: This is high in protein
- Corn: This is the mainstay for poultry diet
- Field peas: This is a protein source and can be a substitute for those who don’t want to use soybean.
- Barley or oats: should make up less than 15% of the overall poultry diet.
Things that you should add in the poultry feed
- Feeding limestone to provide calcium
- Oyster shells
- Fish meal to help boost protein or omega 3s
- Cultured yeast to provide B vitamins, digestive enzymes and minerals
- Crab meal: Can provide minerals and proteins
- Broad-spectrum mineral supplements
- Flaxseed: Can be a source of omega 3s
Equipment Need to Make Poultry Feeds
Check out our reviews of the various poultry feed mills that you can use in formulating your own poultry feeds. These machines include grinders, mixers and pelletizers that will help you process your poultry feed in the right format.
You should also consider constructing a storage bin where you can store your processed poultry feeds in excellent shape for a longer duration of time. We have done an article on poultry storage solutions that might help you understand the best kind of storage that you will need for your processed feeds.
How to Start a Poultry Feed Manufacturing Factory
A poultry feed mill or a poultry feed pellet manufacturing plant is always a profitable business due to the massive demand for high quality poultry feeds. As long as you can differentiate yourself and offer your customers better quality or something unique, you can always have farmers willing to try out your poultry feed products. The most important thing is to identify the market need where the current poultry feed suppliers are under-performing and then make the investments to fill the need.
Here are some of the steps that you can undertake when you are planning to start a poultry mill:-
Carry Out Market Research
Where is the gap in the current poultry feed market in your country? Who are the main players? What do they provide? How can you fill the gap and offer farmers something different? If you are not going to differentiate yourself, you are going to find it hard grabbing the market share from the current market leaders. Get some insight into the current poultry feed market and you will have an easy time identifying loopholes in the market that you can exploit with your poultry feed brands. If possible, you can hire an expert to carry out a feasibility study on the market before you proceed with your investments.
Acquire the Training and Technology on Poultry Feed Formulation
Poultry feed formulation is a science. You must mix the right set of ingredients through a least cost feed formulation in order to come up with the optimal poultry feed that will meet the nutritional requirements of poultry of a particular age and which is also economical to produce.
You need to have a veterinarian background with a focus on poultry feeding to be able to formulate high quality poultry feeds on your poultry mills. Alternatively, you may simply hire a poultry feed formulation specialist who will be in charge of operations at your poultry mill.
Have a Business Plan
Based on your above research and insight, draft a business plan on the form your poultry feed mill will take. What will be the capacity of your poultry feed mill? What will its management structure be? Who will be your target market? How do you plan to source your raw materials? How do you plan to distribute the finished poultry feeds? What will your marketing plan be? How do you plan to secure capital for the poultry feed mill? These are some of the questions that you should answer in your business plan. The poultry feed mill business plan will serve as your lighthouse, guiding you towards your objectives of setting up your poultry feed mill plant.
Get a Good Location
Poultry feed milling plants need to be built in specific locations and you will most likely need a local council clearance before you proceed with the project. It is most prudent to position a poultry feed milling plant in a location with numerous poultry farms as you will have a ready market for your finished products.
Buy the Poultry Feed Mill Machinery
The easiest way to make poultry feed mill machinery is by sourcing them from China. We have outlined in several articles on this website on the type of poultry feed machinery that you should purchase as well as the considerations that you need to keep in mind when sourcing your poultry feed mill machines.
Procure Raw Materials and Begin Processing
Sign deals with the raw materials suppliers in your locality and begin processing the first batch of poultry feeds for your requirements. It is always important to maintain a reliable supply line that will ensure that your feed processing line runs at all times.
Brand and Market Your Poultry Feed
There are various ways to brand and market your poultry feeds. Branding is often about product differentiation. Tell your customers why your poultry feeds offer customers a superior advantage. When it comes to marketing, there are various for a that you can use to reach out to farmers. These include agricultural shows and exhibitions, agricultural magazines, TV and radio commercials among many others.
Proper poultry feed storage is essential to ensuring top quality for your poultry feed. It helps protect them from the pests, critters and the mold that may damage the feed, ruin its nutritional integrity or infect it with dangerous toxins that could be potentially harmful to birds and humans.
Poor quality poultry feed will lead to a host of problems including poor growth, malnutrition, high rate of mortality as well as a host of health problems. All of these will have an impact on your poultry farm profitability. Here are some useful factors to keep in mind when it comes to poultry feed storage:-
Consider the Distance of the Silo from the Poultry House
The poultry storage facility should be kept as close to the poultry house as possible for practical reasons. Some poultry farms build the storage area for poultry feeds inside the poultry house. In many poultry farms, however, the feed silos are placed right next to the poultry house to provide for maximum convenience.
The Storage Facility
The poultry feed storage facility should meet certain minimum requirements. It should provide shelter from direct sunshine; must be cool and well ventilated; should be able to keep the feed dry and ensure low humidity; must protect the poultry feed from vermin such as mice and rats and insect pests; must keep the poultry feed off the ground to protect it from mold spoilage and ground condensation and finally, it should protect the poultry feed from drugs and chemicals.
The Storage Conditions
Poor storage conditions for your poultry feeds will reduce their shelf life and may lead to the loss of important nutrients like the anti-oxidants, some essential fatty acids along with vitamins. This will in turn hinder the growth of your poultry and lead to higher mortalities in your flock.
If poultry feed is stored in wet area, it will get moldy and stale and will pose a serious health risk for your birds. The worst are the molds that grow quickly on the poultry feed and produce mycotoxins. This mostly occurs during warm and humid weather. The use of moldy poultry feeds inevitably leads to illnesses, performance losses as well as possible mass mortality in your flock.
It is hard to estimate the shelf life of poultry feed in storage facilities, even under the best of conditions. The longevity will depend on the conditions in the storage as well as the composition of the poultry feed.
The local climate will also play a key role in determining the life-span of your poultry feed. This is especially so when it comes to the temperature and the relative humidity of the local area and the housing.
Even with an excellent food storage system, food should only be stored for a short duration of time. The ideal timeframe should be two months after the date of manufacture. By reducing the storage time, you can ensure a faster turnover thereby cutting down on the inventory costs while giving your flock fresh and high quality poultry feed.
When storing the poultry feed, you should be wary of the exposure to the sunshine. Radiation from the sun can degrade the quality of the feed through the effect of the greenhouse gases. Overheating may also negatively impact the nutritional content of the food leading to the breaking down and degradation of the proteins or the fats being rancid. Use housing material such as iron sheets that will reflect back most of the heat and radiation thus helping preserve a cool and dry environment inside the poultry feed storage area.
In very hot climates, it is advisable to use insulated bins for poultry feed storage so as to help keep cool and stable temperatures inside the poultry feed storage bin. Another advantage of insulated bins is that they can help reduce or entirely prevent condensation at night when the temperatures fall. Condensation creates humid conditions and is likely to lead to the growth of mold on top of the layers of poultry feed.
Improving your broiler feed efficiency will inevitably lead to an improvement in the profitability of your poultry production enterprise. Currently, most of the measures aimed at boosting the productivity of poultry farming enterprises mainly focus on creating the balance in feed ratio between the amino acids and energy and by boosting the digestibility of the nutrients in the poultry feed through other means.
However, there are ways in which the feed efficiency can be improved even after the feed has been processed and delivered to the poultry farm. Here are some ways to ensure that your broilers get the most out of their poultry feed:-
Invest in Excellent Storage
Molds and mycotoxins are the single biggest causes of feed losses. They deplete valuable nutrients and may even harbor harmful toxins that may pass down to humans. Moldy food is not just toxic but also unpalatable for the chickens and this is going to have an impact on feed consumption and conversion.
Mold growth will ocvcur mostly in climates that are warm and humid. While you can add mold inhibitors and mycotoxin binders to the poultry feed to control the growth of mold, it is usually not enough. You have to take it a step further. Make sure you inspect and thoroughly clean the silos where the poultry feed is kept. Even empty silos might have some hotspots where the mould is more likely to bloom and these must be cleaned thoroughly and treated with fungicides.
Using Feeders that Don’t Waste Food
Even in cases where you might be giving your chickens the best quality food, feed losses may still occur due to the type of feeders that you are using. If you are using poorly designed feeders, you are likely to grapple with lots of spillage that will lead to significant losses.
Invest in good feeders that minimize the losses as much as possible. Don’t scrimp on poultry feeders only to incur long term costs through poultry feed wastage. The poultry feeders should also be well managed. Make sure that they are placed optimally where the chickens can easily access the feeds, clean them regularly and supply a good number of them so that they are enough for the birds to limit overcrowding during feeding.
Another thing that will enhance the feed conversion efficiency is the close placement of drinkers close to the feeders. However, the drinkers shouldn’t be too close that they cause the spoilage of food.
Lighting is one of the key factors in poultry feed conversion efficiency. Don’t provide constant lighting. In an environment of constant lighting provision, the chickens tend to over-consume the feed. You have to provide your poultry with optimal lighting in their sheds for the best feed digestibility.
Remember that you are already feeding the birds at the level of their genetic potential so an over-consumption of food is simply wastage as the feed has less time to interact with the digestive enzymes in the chicken’s digestive tract. This will in turn result in the reduction of the poultry feed digestibility.
One technique that is recommended by many poultry experts is a lights on-lights off program if the chicken are feeding at night. This can take the format of 1 hour of light and 1 hour of darkness. This model allows the chickens to fully digest the feed they have consumed while they are resting. This also helps improve the feed efficiency as the birds will not be walking about all day. During the light hours, the birds also have the time to refill. With this system, however, you need sufficient space that will allow the birds to feed simultaneously. This will need careful placement and feeder management in the poultry house.
Avoid a Heavy Body Mass as Birds Approach Market Age
If you are part of a contract poultry farming venture, then you have to feed your poultry to the very end according to the guidelines laid out in your contract. However, if you are raising poultry for the open market, then you have a little leeway in how you are going to feed your poultry.
The feed efficiency generally gets worse as the birds grow older because they have a bigger body mass to maintain and they will need to take in more energy and amino acids. So you need to find the minimum weight for your market birds that is acceptable in order for you to boost the feed efficiency of your poultry. You can for example, look at the cost per weight gain.
In the article, we will briefly look at the ingredients and the formula guiding the formulation of the broiler starter mash, grower mash, finisher mash and the post-finisher mash:-
How to Make Broiler Starter Mash
The broiler starter mash is formulated for the farmers who raise for the live markets and sell them at the age of six to eight weeks. The broiler rations must generally include a growth promoter and a coccidiostat. However, these are excluded from the post-finisher broiler mash.
The broiler starter mash should not include any growth hormones or animal by-products in the formulation.
The broilers should be fed the starter mash from the time they are one day old to 16 days old. The approximate feed consumption for the broilers will vary between 600g to 800g per bird.
The broiler starter mash is generally in the format of mash or crumbles. You should feed the chickens crumbles so as to ensure faster growth as well as more efficient feed conversion. However, if you want to slow down the growth and minimizes the occurrences of the waterbelly, you can feed the chickens the poultry mash.
The table below shows the ingredients used in broiler starter mash formulation and the ration in which these ingredients should be mixed:-
How to Make Broiler Grower Mash
The broiler growers mash is in pellet form. The broiler grower mash is fed to the chickens from the age of 17 days to 30 days. Just like in the broiler starter mash, the rations in the broiler grower mash contain a growth promoter and coccidiostat but no growth hormones or animal-byproducts. The feed consumption per bird will approximately be 1.5kg. Below is a table showing the nutrient content for a broiler grower mash formulation:-
How to Make Broiler Finisher Mash
The broiler finisher mash is fed to the chickens from the age of 30 days to the age of 38 days. Every bird will consume approximately 1kg of broiler finisher mash from the age of 30 days to the age of 38 days. The broiler finish mash is in the form of pellets.
The Broiler Post Finisher Mash
The broiler post finisher mash is fed to the broilers five days before slaughter. This diet is richer in protein content.
A feed production mill is a must have if you are planning to make your own poultry feeds at home or in a small industrial plant. Feed milling equipment consists of various components. These include the feed grinding machine, a feed mixing machine, the feed pellet machine, the feed pellet cooling machine as well as a feed pellet packing machine.
Apart from these core poultry feed mill equipment, there are also auxiliary feed mill equipment that make all this function together as a unit. These including the conveying machine or a system of conveyance belts, a control cabinet, dust collectors, storage bins, fire protection equipment and many others. It all depends on how well equipped and sophisticated you want your poultry feed milling plant to be.
For more information on how this entire system works during the feed processing, check out our post on the poultry feed production line that explains what happens in every component. If you are going to establish poultry feed production line or milling plant, you will have to purchase all these machine components and install them on your production floor with some technical assistance.
Feed Mill Equipment Basic Operations
The basis operations of poultry feed mill equipments includes the following processes:-
- Receiving the raw materials
- Grinding the raw materials
- Mixing the raw materials
- Sifting or Screening
- Packaging the processed poultry feed
- Warehousing the processes feed
Receiving the Raw Materials
The poultry feed mill is equipped to receive various kinds of raw materials. Depending on the design of the poultry mill, the plant line can receive either a truck or rail delivery and sometimes, it can receive both deliveries.
The various ingredients to be used in processing the poultry feed such as the grains, fats, fish meal, pre-mixes and molasses are delivered to the plant by trucks. The grains and soybean meal are generally delivered by rail.
The dry ingredients to be used in formulating the poultry feeds can be received in bags or in bulk. The liquid ingredients to be used in poultry feed formulation such as molasses and fat can be pumped directly into the storage tank in the feed mill line.
The bulk grain and other solid ingredients can be conveyed via a conveyor or bucket elevator to be cleaned or screen before being stored in the storage bins within the feed mill.
The solid grains must be ground in the feed mill by the poultry feed grinder or the feed hammer mill. This is done before the feed is mixed with the other feed ingredients to be used in the poultry feed formulation.
During the feed formulation, the various ingredients being used to make the poultry feed must be weighed quantitatively, in batches. The quantity of the various ingredients that you will feed into the feed mill scale hopper is to be controlled from a central console. This can be done either automatically or manually with aim of ensuring that you feed in the correct ratio for each ingredient.
The mixing is done by the feed mixer in the poultry feed mill. The feed mixing will uniformly mix all the individual ingredients being used in the poultry feed formulation. The mixing time will depend on the property of the feed ingredients being used as well as feed formulation for the particular poultry feed that you are making.
During the pelleting stage, the mixed/blended feed ingredients are fed into the pelleting machine in the production line. The pelleting process involves various stages. The mixture of feed ingredients goes into the pellet mill feeder. This will control the rate at which the feed ingredients mixture mixture will enter the feed pelleting equipment.
The next process at the pelleting stage involves the blending together of the dry mixed materials withs team in order to create a wet mesh. It this wet mash that is fed to the mill pelleting machine. It can be pushed here either through gravity or via a forced feeder system.
Inside the pelleting chamber, the hot and moist mash is forced through a pellet mash dye whereupon it is converted into pellets of the desired size and shapes.
Cooling and Sifting
The pelletized poultry feed are finally cool before packaging. The hot feed mixture is feed into the pellet cooling machine by gravity. The cooling is done in order to get durable and hard pellets. Once the pellets are cooled, they will flow into the screening machine where there is the scalping of the pelleted mash into the fines and mash.
Packing and Warehousing the Poultry Feed
The finished pellets are finally weighed, packaged and sealed. This can be done either manually or automatically. Finally, the packaged feed are warehoused ready for distribution to the market.
Maintaining the Feed Mill Equipment
The poultry feed mill should be maintained well and on a regular basis in order to improve its operational efficiency as well as the quality of the feed produced. Proper maintenance will also reduce the instances of feed contamination during processing.
There are various kinds of maintenance that you can perform on your poultry feed mill. These include the emergency maintenance, routine maintenance, the call-in maintenance as well as preventive maintenance.
The routine maintenance for your poultry feed mill is the scheduled maintenance that you carry out regularly based on a fixed routine. Typical routine maintenance work includes activities such as the lubrication of the bearings, replacing the hammer mill screens, replacing the worn out parts of the poultry feed mill equipment or checking the oil levels in the poultry feed mill gear boxes.
With emergency maintenance work, you will be reacting sudden unplanned breakdowns in the machinery. This must be done immediately in order to get the machine running on schedule.
Call-in maintenance also comes into play in an emergency situation. In this case, the people to do the maintenance are not on site and must be called from outside.
Preventive maintenance for the poultry feed mill machine involves making certain adjustments and carrying out inspections and repairs on the equipment. This involves activities such as repairing the worn out parts before they fail based on observation in order to forestall further damage and ensure the feed mill machine is working smoothly.
Making poultry feed is not particularly rocket science. You only need the right ingredients in the right amounts for the type of chickens that you are formulating the feeds for. The rest is just mixing, grinding and pelletizing the feed for your flock in order to make them more palatable for your chickens.
You can read more on the various kinds of the poultry feed pellet machines that are currently in the market.
Due to the rising feed costs and the fact that many farmers now want more control or at least more transparency on the feed formulation processes and ingredients used by their suppliers, the business of poultry feed milling is fast growing in popularity, not just among small scale agricultural entrepreneurs but also among small scale farmers with a flock of a few thousand flock.
Poultry feed milling as a part of an integrated poultry production system helps farmers cut down on the costs of feeds and place more oversight on the kinds of ingredients that go into their poultry feeds.
However, when it comes to poultry feed milling, farmers still grapple with a host of challenges. For example, what ingredients will they use to mill the poultry feed? What is the formula for mixing up these ingredients? What amounts of feed supplements and additives should they use? What kind of feed pellet machinery should they use in preparing the poultry feed? Should they purchase a small poultry feed milling machine or invest in an entire feed production line? These are some of the questions y0ou are likely to grapple with when trying to set up a poultry feed mill.
The Raw materials used in making poultry feed
This is one of the areas where you will have utmost flexibility because many of the ingredients commonly used in poultry feed formulation can easily be substituted with locally available grains.
Grind or Whole Portion Raw Materials
- Alfalfa Pellets
- Cultured Yeast
- Crab Meal
- Fish meal
- Flax seed
The Formula for Mixing Your Chicken Feed Pellet
Crude Protein Minimum: 16.5%
Crude Fiber Maximum: 5%
Calcium Minimum: 3.5%; Maximum 4%
Crude Fat Minimum: 3%
Lysine Minimum: 0.7%
Phosphorous Minimum: 0.5%
Salt: Minimum: 0.2%; Maximum 0.4%
Methionine Minimum: 0.2%
Poultry Feed Pellet Milling Machine
There are numerous machines in the market that can be used for poultry feed milling. Many of the smaller poultry feed milling machines are fairly easy to install on your premises and operate. When buying a suitable poultry feed pelleting machine, you will need to factor in considerations such as the capacity of the machine, pellet size, power consumption, technical support among other factors. The poultry feed production lines are generally more sophisticated and require serious investments and more comprehensive technical support to get them running and working smoothly.
Many of the smaller poultry feed pelleting machines cost anywhere from $500 to $2000. The larger poultry feed pelleting machines will cost in the regions of $4000 to $8000 while poultry feed production lines can cost anywhere from $25,000 to millions of dollars.
The smallest poultry feed milling machines can have a capacity ranging from 60kg/hour to 100kg/hour. These typically cost anywhere from $500 to $1000. The medium scale poultry feed pelleting machines will have a capacity of 400kg/hour to 600kg/hour and may cost anywhere from $1000 to $8000.
However, keep in mind that many of these smaller poultry feed pelleting machines may not have grinder functions. If you want a machine that will grind, mix and pellet, make sure you read the specifications of the machines before making a purchase. Otherwise you might find yourself only buying a pelleting machine. This will force you to grind your poultry feed ingredients elsewhere before you bring them to the machine for pelleting.
Why Choose a Poultry Food Pelleting Machine for Your Chicken?
A good poultry feed pelletizer makes quality poultry feed that is not just palatable but where the nutritional integrity of the poultry feed ingredients is preserved. This can significantly boost the feed conversion and subsequently, the health and yield of your flock. Quality poultry feed is integral to the success of your poultry farming enterprise.
Chickens in different stages of growth will need different pellet size of poultry feeds and a poultry pelleting machine can help you formulate varied rations of your poultry feed, suited for the different ages of your chickens.
One of the main problems with feed management that farmers and manufacturers often grapple with is that of the growth of molds in poultry feeds. The mold growth is not only toxic but it also depletes the nutritional content of the poultry feed.
The growth of mold can negatively impact all aspects of your poultry production ventures ranging from the quality of the processed feed to the grain integrity, feed consumption, the animal health as well as the energy and the production levels of your poultry enterprise. The growth of mold in your poultry feeds will push up the cost of production in your enterprise and lower your revenues, whether you are a poultry feed manufacturer or a farmer. It is detrimental to your profitability and competitiveness.
Unfortunately, a lot of the factors that lead to the growth of molds are not easy to regulate. These include factors such as the moisture levels and humidity which must be present in any production system. One easy options of controlling or eliminating the molds is by using the mold inhibitors in your poultry feeds. These will largely prevent them from destroying your feeds.
The Features and Benefits of the Primary Mold Inhibitors
The best mold inhibitors in the industry will help in supporting the animal health by helping preserve the nutrients in the poultry feeds and grains. A high quality mold inhibitor should have the following features:-
- It should effectively prevent the growth of molds.
- It should have milder pungency and less corrosiveness. This will improve the handling of feeds and grains and result in less wear and tear of the equipment used in the enterprise.
- A good mold inhibitor will prolong the shelf life of your feeds and grains.
- It should be able to preserve the nutritional integrity of your poultry feeds as well as that of the grains used as raw materials in poultry feed formulation.
- They will minimize the risk of mycotoxin production in your poultry feeds and grains.
- They will optimize the moisture content of both the grains and the processed feeds.
Reviewing the Performance
Choosing the right high performance mold inhibitor shouldn’t be difficult. There are already very good options in the market especially if you live in a country with a well developed poultry industry. Look for a product that has proven its efficacy and reliability based on the number of buyers recommending it. This is the only you are going to ensure you are using an industry standard mold inhibitor that will satisfy your needs.
Here are some signs that the mold inhibitor you are using is of excellent quality:
- It has undergone multiple trials and proven its efficacy.
- The product trials must test some specific features as well as capabilities of the mold inhibitor such as its efficacy, product variations, comparison between the inhibitor and other competing products in the marketplace as well as feed-specific reactions and solutions.
- Choose a mold inhibitor that will best suit your unique needs and situations. This will ultimately depend on the type of livestock that you are raising. There are mold inhibitors that are uniquely suited for poultry raising, for example.
One of the big players in the poultry feed milling and pelleting machinery market is the Chinese company Luoyang Luodate. The company is a market leader when it comes to the production of the poultry feed production machines and its products have good reliability. They are used all over the world by both small scale and large scale poultry feed producer.
One of its main product lines is the poultry feed production line, a sophisticated production line that performs all the functions from screening the raw materials to grinding , pelleting and packaging.
The main feed production machine involves the following feed pelleting steps:
- The raw material receiving section: This is where you add the raw materials used in the poultry feed formulation such as the corn, soybeans and other ingredients.
- The grinding and mixing sections: here, the raw materials poured in are ground and mixed uniformly to create a uniformly balanced poultry feed.
- The bucket elevator section: This is a conveyance system that transports the ground mixture into the next section of the feed production line.
- The Stock Bin
- The Pelletizing Section: This is where the ground poultry feed that has been mixed with additives and other food supplements is pelletized ready for packaging and sales to the market.
- Bucket elevator: This is a downward conveyance system that transports the pelletized poultry feed to the Cooling and Broken section of the poultry pellet feed production line. Here, the hot pelletized food is cooled to a temperature of below 4 degrees Celsius before it heads to the next section.
- Screening section: The work of the screening section is to ensure quality control during the poultry food processing.
- Packing Section: Once the poultry feed has been screened and all any impurities or non standardized particles eliminated, the poultry feed is bagged. The bagging is automatic. After bagging, the sacks pass through a section where the bags are sealed.
The poultry food processing is a fairly quick process. One bag is produced in a matter of minutes. You can use this kind of production line to produce multiple bags per hour. It is therefore highly suited for large scale poultry feed operations. With this kind of product line, you are able to produce millions of dollars worth of poultry feed every month.
The machine has a capacity of 1 to 1.3 tons per hour which means that in a month you are able to produce anywhere 600 to 900 tons of poultry feeds in your industrial premises.
The video below shows how the entire poultry feed production process goes:-
Buying poultry feed mills is generally a fairly complicated process for many reasons. The first ones is that machines are complicated. Unless you understand the technical specifications of the kind of machines you are planning to purchase and how that is likely to impact your production process, you are unlikely to arrive at the right decision and choice.
In poultry feed milling machines or poultry production line, the process is further complicated that these machines, though easy to operate, are manufactured by various “obscure” companies, most of them based in China. There might be a little bit language barrier when it comes to product sourcing such as when you need to know a little bit about product specifications.
Here are some buying tips to keep in mind when planning to purchase poultry feed milling machinery:-
Map Out Your Poultry Feed Milling Requirements
Here, you need to look at the capacity of the machine that you want. If you are planning for small scale or home based poultry feed operation, then you need a poultry feed pellet production machine with a capacity of no more than 100kg per hour. However, if you are planning for large scale poultry feed milling, then you will have to purchase a bigger capacity poultry feed milling operation or even install an entire production line that may end up costing you anywhere from $25,000 millions of dollars depending on the size. The poultry feed milling machine capacity is generally measured in kg/hr or in tons per hour.
A machine that runs for a considerable amount of time will no doubt consume a lot of power and the energy costs will push up the costs of production. If you are planning to buy a poultry feed milling machine, look at how much power it consumes and what it is likely to cost you per month if it runs at full capacity. When it comes to power considerations, you also need to look at whether the machine uses electricity or diesel.
The Pellet Size
Look at the pellet size that machine can process. This should correspond to the intended use and what your target market wants. Many of these machines have variable pellet size so you can use them to mill all kinds of pellets ranging from the larger pellets to the finer and granular ones. This is one of the most important considerations to look at because the pellet size will also have a bearing on other factors such as how uniformly the nutritional elements are distributed in the feed and the feed conversion efficiency.
Ease of Assembly
If you will be purchasing a low cost machine via platforms such as Alibaba, the machine will only come with a manual and phone support. You therefore need to look at the ease with which the machine can be assembled to start operations.
Building a poultry feed production line is generally a huge and costly undertaking. Poultry feed production line can cost anywhere from $25,000 to millions of dollars depending on the scale of the mills and generally requires expert assistance in order to get the process right.
The design specifications for a poultry feed mill will depend on a variety of factors such as the feed types and the budget for the project. Before the design is done, the poultry mill plant experts must decide on the scale of the poultry mill. How big will it be? What capacity are you looking for? What level of technological sophistication in the poultry feed milling process are you looking at?
They will look at the feed process and then recommend for you a suitable poultry feed machine that will be adequate for your needs. Based on your unique requirements, they can come up with a precise capacity for a poultry feed mill.
The next step will be choosing a suitable location for the poultry feed manufacturing plant structure followed by the planning for the general drawing of the poultry feed mill plant site.
Cleaning your poultry feed before you begin processing is a good manufacturing practice. The cleaning machine can be used in cleaning the pre-mix material at the inlet. This can be through a sieving effect or the pressure cleaning of the pre-mixes.
During the poultry feed processing, there are raw materials that must be grinded to a certain desired particle size for the various types of feeds. That is the work of the grinding machine in the assembly line.
The Conveying Machine
The conveying machine in the poultry feed production line is used for all transporting the poultry feed from one processing department to another during the production process. There are various kinds of conveying systems including bucket elevators and screw and chain conveyors among many others. These are used for conveying the raw materials as well as the finished goods in the production floor.
The Poultry Feed Mixing Machine
The mixing machine is for mixing the different raw materials used in the poultry feed formulation. Here, the different raw materials used in poultry feed formulation are mixed with the poultry feed additives and supplements, oil or fat, and medicines. A good mixer will ensure the highest quality standards are observed.
The Poultry Feed Pelleting Machine
Many people make the mistake of buying the poultry feed pelleting machine thinking it is a complete poultry feed processing unit. The poultry feed pelleting machine only does the pelleting to make the poultry feeds more palatable for the chickens. Its work is to produce the final pellet feed after all the drinking, mixing and addition of the additives and feed supplements. Having a good pellet means giving the chickens the “complete feed” and a good feed mill should assure that to ensure optimal feed conversion.
The Cooling Machine
The extruded fees from the poultry feed production process generally come out at hot at temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Celsius to 90 degrees Celsius. The work of the cooling machine is to bring down the high temperatures to a normal temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius.
Poultry Feed Screening Machine
The purpose of the poultry feed screening machine is to ensure that the poultry feed produces is of the right size and quality. All the uneven sizes are screened out and only the uniform poultry feed passes to the next process to be bagged ready for the market.
The Bagging Machine
Ready poultry feed will need to be bagged or packed. This is where the bagging machine comes in. The bagging machine can either be manual or automatic based on the requirements of the end user.
There are various steps involved in establishing a poultry feed milling plant for your poultry farm. Once you have the structures and the feed making expertise, it is time to move forward and acquire a suitable poultry feel milling machine that you will use to crush, grind or pellet the poultry feeds for your chickens and customers.
There are various poultry feed milling machines manufacturers available in the market currently. Many of these equipment are manufactured by Chinese companies and you can easily order them via Alibaba to your country. Here is a look at some of the best feed mill machinery and equipment in the market based on consumer reviews:-
LOCHAMP SZLH Series Pellet Mill
LOWCHAMP is one of the leaders in animal feed production equipment and feed production lines. The SZLH Series Pellet Mill is a small feed pelleting machine that can be used in small scale operations. In spite of its relatively small size, it still has a large capacity of between 0.4 tons to 15 tonnes per hour making it suitable not just for small scale but also large scale poultry feed milling operations. It produces various sizes of feed pellets ranging from 0.8mm to 15mm.
To but this pellet mill, you can email the company at email@example.com
Rongyao Factory Home Use Flat Die Feed Pellet Machine
If you are running a small poultry farm or small poultry feed milling operation and have small capital for your feed milling operation, then this will be the ideal poultry feed milling/feed pelleting machine. It utilizes very little power and has a capacity of only 75kg to 100kg per hour. If it runs for the whole work day, you can use this to mill anywhere from 10 to 20 bags per day of poultry feeds.
For a small poultry feed milling operation supporting a farm of only a few thousands birds, this machine will be adequate. In a month, you can use this to mill more than 30 tons of poultry feed, enough to generate you up to $30,000 in revenues. The good thing is that the machine costs only $632. With some shipping fee and customs fee, the costs can come to about $1200 which is a very small investment.
Pellet Size: 3mm to 6mm
Pellet Moisture: 13% to 16%
Work Bowl Capacity: 75kg to 100kg per hour.
Laizhou Chengda Machinery Poultry Feed Pellet Machine
This offers a slight improvement over the Rongya Machine. It has a larger capacity and you can use it to make finer poultry feed pellets or bigger pellets depending on your preferences. This poultry feed milling machine has excellent rigidity, perfect smoothness, as well as a standard degree of moistness. The poultry feed will be evenly cooked during the processing which will help increase the proportion of the take-in nutrition in the poultry feed. It leads to greater uniformity and mixing of the poultry feeds.
When poultry feed is thrown into the machine, the pressing roller and the ingredients mixture will be heated to a temperature of about 60 or 80 degrees Celsius by the friction in the roller. This comes out of the machine in a granular form. Use different templates to choose the granule size. Every template has different hole sizes to give you the required granule size. This feed milling machine runs on diesel engine and costs about $1375 excluding the shipping costs.
Shandong Rotex Machinery Poultry Pellet Feed Machine
This is a new high quality and fairly affordable poultry feed pellet machine. It has a very simple design and a simple mode of operation making it one of the most popular small and affordable poultry feed pelleting machines. You can buy this for a small scale poultry feed pelleting operation or even for family use. The machine is easier to clean the dye and roller can be removed and changed easily. The machine is also relatively small and lightweight which makes it possible for small scale or family based light industrial operations. The machine is designed such that you can even look inside the chamber when pelletizing the poultry food.
This poultry pellet feed machine makes very soft pellets which makes it possible to retain the original nutrition that your poultry needs. The feed pellets made by the Shandong Rotex poultry pellet feed machine are generally as natural as possible, easy to chew and easy to digest.
You can pick from various models. The smallest one has power consumption of 2.0 to 2.3kW and weight of 100kg while the biggest has a power consumption of 11 to 15kW and a weight of 368kg. The machine costs only $960. Visit profile on Alibaba to make an order https://pelletmachinery.en.alibaba.com/
Shandong Rotex Machinery Poultry Feed Pellet Production Machine
This is another poultry feed pellet machine by Shandong Rotex Machines Co or Rotexmaster. It has a higher capacity than the above machine and can mill up anywhere from 300kg to 500kg per hour making it a suitable machine for someone wanting to mill bigger amounts of poultry feeds. It is still suited for small scale family or industrial enterprises. With this, you can mill anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000 worth of poultry feeds per month.
This is still a small and portable pelletizer machine and can make poultry feed pellets through shaft driving and high technology. It works without water, based on a dry input and dry output mechanism.
This poultry feed pellet machine is widely used in small scale family based poultry feed milling operations. It can also be used by small cooperatives. The compressed poultry feed pellets that it produces can be used for various kinds of livestock including chicken, duck, fish and pigs. It can take in all the raw materials used in poultry feed milling including corn powder, soybean pulp, grass meal among others. The machine costs $1100 excluding the shipping fees.
As a beginner poultry farmer, making sense of the various types of the commercial poultry feeds can be a little confusing. You have probably heard of the chick mash, growers mash, finisher mash, post-finisher mash or layer’s mash. Or you have probably heard of the medicated versus unmedicated mash. The various kinds of jargon used in poultry feeds can be a bit confusing and overwhelming.
To figure out which is which, we have created a simple glossary of the various terms used in describing the various kinds of poultry feeds that can help you make sense of the constellation of terms used by manufacturers to label their processed poultry feed products.
Start Chicken Mash or “Starter Mash
The starter mash is the food for the baby chicks. It is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of the baby chicks and is therefore rich in protein. The starter feed should be fed to the baby chicks for the first six weeks of their lives before you graduate to the grower feed or grower’s mash.
The starter mash is a very protein-rich diet, usually containing 20% to 24% protein and will help your young chicks grow smoothly into healthy and happy pullets. Once the chicks are 6 weeks old, you may start phasing out the starter mash from their diet while transitioning them to the growers mash. Excessive protein causes liver damage.
The pashing out should be done gradually. Don’t make it abrupt otherwise this is going to interfere with the health of the birds. What you can do is to start mixing the starter and grower mash slowly over time, while increasing the proportion of the growers mash in the mixture over time until the diet is 100% made up of the grower’s mash.
Some manufacturers even make the work easier for you. They sell a starter-grower mash mixture that you can feed your chickens until they are 20 weeks old. If this makes things confusing, you can simply stick to the starter mash and then transition to grower mash as your chicks turn 6 weeks old. If you are unsure about the right type of poultry feed for your chicks, you can talk to a poultry expert to advise you accordingly.
Chicken Growers Mash
The growers mash can be described as the chicken feed for the “teenage” chickens. They have just come out of their chick phase and will be growing fast towards becoming adult birds. The nutritional or dietary requirements for a chicken that is aged between 6 and 20 weeks are vastly different from that of a chick that is aged below six weeks.
The protein content of the grower’s mash is generally between 16% and 18%. However, the grower’s mash has less calcium content than that of the regular layer’s feed. The grower’s feed is formulated to support the continued growth of the “teenage” chickens without bombarding their diet with too much minerals and vitamins which are generally more suited for the laying chickens. When the birds begin to lay eggs when they hit a particular point of lay age depending on their breed, you can begin feeding them the layers mash if they are layers.
Layer Chicken Feed
For most of your flock’s life their diet will predominantly consist of scrumptious layer feed. Layer feed has an ingenious balance of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals that encourages top tier egg laying abilities in your flock. Protein wise layer feed contains similar levels of protein to grower feed, around 16-18%, however has extra calcium to ensure that their eggshells are crisp, clean and crunchy. Feeding layer feed to baby chicks or young pullets however will not meet their unique dietary requirements. Layer feed should only be fed to chickens around 20 weeks of age or once they have started to lay eggs.
The Broiler Rations
The broiler rations are different from the layer rations. These are generally rich in proteins to make the birds grow extremely fast. They will typically have an 18% to 20% protein content. There are various kinds of grower rations such as the finisher and post finisher broiler mash. We will discuss these in the next article.
If you are planning to formulate your own poultry feed, you are likely to spend a lot of time trying to find the right chicken feed ingredients that will assure you of the best quality nutrition for your chickens.
Thankfully, with the modern farming techniques, you now have the opportunity to easily boost the nutritional quality of your chicken feed ingredients along with that of the feed additives and supplements affordably.
This is advantageous not just for the poultry producer or farmer but also for the poultry feeds manufacturer as it can assure you of better profit margins. Having poultry feeds that are of high quality will help in enhancing the economics of poultry feeding for all that are involved in the poultry feeds value chain, from the farmer to the poultry feeds processor to the eventual poultry feed buyer. It is even good for the customer who will buy the quality and nutritious poultry products such as meat and eggs.
There are various additives that are commonly used in poultry feeds. These include the pellet binders, feed conditioners, grain conditioners and the moisture optimizers. There are various benefits that a farmer can derive by incorporating chicken additives. For one, the poultry feeds can have a longer shelf life and be preserved for a longer duration of time. The feed additives also help in enhancing the nutrition and improving the value of the property.
Poultry Feed Ingredients
Below is a look at the basic chicken feed ingredients that every poultry feed formulation must contain:-
- Protein meals
- Cereal grains
- Cereal byproducts
- Feed additives
- Fats and Oils
- Minerals and Vitamins
- Miscellaneous raw ingredients like roots and tubers
The cereal grains will constitute the largest amount of the chicken feed ingredients. Adding them in the poultry feeds is also a cost-effective measure as it will assist in the fulfillment of the energy requirements of the chickens. The fact that they are relatively cheap also lowers the overall cost of the poultry feed formulation.
The drawback with the cereal ingredients is that they are quite susceptible to bacteria, mold as well as rot so if not well handled, they can easily degrade the quality of the poultry feed.
Grains must also be stored properly. If they are not stored well, they are most likely to harbor mycotoxins that are likely to negatively impact the growth of your chickens. This is where the advantages of the poultry feed additives come in. When used in the poultry feeds, their preservation properties will come into play, enabling the grains to be used as feed ingredients in the poultry feed formulation over an extended period of time without going bad when they are stored over a long duration of time.
There are various important ingredients that you will need to supply your chickens through the poultry feed ingredients. These include the essential amino acids that are found in the proteins, vitamins as well as minerals. The remainder of your flock’s dietary energy requirements will be met through fats, oils as well as the protein meal ingredients.
How Do the Supplements Improve the Health and Performance of Your Flock?
The supplements used in the poultry feeds help in increasing the health and the productivity of your chickens by boosting the nutritional output of the poultry feed itself. Using poultry feed supplements can help manufacturers and farmers save a lot of money as these supplements help prolong the shelf life of your poultry feed while also boosting the producer’s poultry yields. The use of supplements also simplifies the transportation process and reduces the incidents of tear and wear in the production machinery of the manufacturer.
The Common Supplements and Additives Used in Poultry Feeds
The main additives and supplements used in poultry feeds include the following:-
- Organic minerals
- Digestive enzymes
- Pellet binders
- Direct fed microbials
- Toxin binders
- Mold inhibitors
- Feeding Effectors
- Anti-stress agents
- Feed conditioners
How to Boost the Chicken Feed Ingredient Value
Adding effective ingredients in the poultry feed formulation will make the food manufacturing more profitable for feed companies as it helps in enhancing the value as well as the nutritional quality of the poultry feed produced which is sold to bulk buyers and farmers.
Supplements that are nutrient-rich can also boost the optimal health of sick and stressed birds. Overall, this will contribute to a boost in the farmer’s yield and profitability. The supplements are fairly easy to apply and help cut down on the population through the chicken’s fecal waste.
When Good Poultry Feed Goes Bad
Poultry feeds can be destroyed and rendered useless by bacteria, mold as well as rot. The worst of these is mold which is fairly difficult to eradicate once it has taken root in your poultry feeds. As the mold grows further, it will eat up the nutrients that are in the poultry feed.
The growth of mold in the poultry feed can also get a little toxic. If your flock consumes moldy feed, they are likely to be exposed to the mycotoxins which can lead to more serious health issues based on the amount of portion that they have consumed.
Even where you have used “best practices” in poultry feed formulation and storage, it is still possible to have mold growing on and destroying your poultry feeds. To inhibit the growth of mold and destruction of your poultry feed, you can use a mold inhibitor, additives or supplements in the feed. Using these will help minimize the effect of mycotoxins in feeds and grades thus limiting the degradation of the nutritional content of the poultry feed.
The general rule when preparing poultry feeds is that the nutritional requirements of the bird must be met. To give your chickens optimal nutritional levels, make sure you consider the additives and supplements as they play a crucial role in improving the value of your chicken feed ingredients. Not only do they enhance the ingredients that have already been used in the poultry feeds but they also inhibit the growth of other harmful organisms such as mold and bacteria.
Poultry feed accounts for the biggest cost in poultry raising, typically in the region of 65% to 70%. Typically, in commercial production, poultry feed is formulated scientifically and processed with state-of-the-art machines that guarantee the best standards possible.
Many of the large poultry integrators typically process their own poultry feeds using least cost feed formulation techniques. Doing this professionally assures you of high quality standards. Poultry feed formulation is a science but you don’t millions in investments to begin formulating your own poultry feeds.
If you are running a large poultry farm, you can start processing your own poultry feeds in your backyard if you know the right ingredients to use, the ratio in which you should use these ingredients as well as the right quality control measures that will assure you of clean and high quality poultry feeds free of salmonella.
It is not easy growing all the poultry feed ingredients by yourself so you are most likely going to source your poultry feeds from elsewhere. You need to know the ingredients to use and the nutritional composition of the ingredients used so that you can accurately formulate the poultry feeds that have the right nutritional balance.
The most popular ingredients are generally soy and corn but if you are uncomfortable with GMO grains, you can bypass these and sue the non-GMO versions of these grains. The good thing with poultry feed formulation is that there are numerous types of ingredients that you can use or substitute so if any particular grain is too costly or not readily available, you can always substitute it with the one that you can access more easily so as to come up with your custom mix. And you can do this without necessarily compromising on the nutritional quality of the eventual poultry feeds.
Here is a look at the various types of grains that you can use in your poultry feed formulation. We think getting the ingredients right is of paramount importance. Once you that do this, milling the poultry feed is generally the easy part.
Ingredients to Put on Your Poultry Feed
There are numerous feed formulation recipes that you can find online. What is important is that you pick one that is suited for your region. A grain that is abundant in the Philippines may not be readily available in South Africa or Australia. So try to pin it down to the specifics in order to find a more accurate poultry feed formulation recipe.
The grain that you choose should not just be readily available but also affordable. With least cost poultry feeds formulation, affordability is generally an important consideration.
Take time to study the ingredients used in the commercial poultry feed formulation for various kinds of birds in order to get an idea on the proportion in which they should be mixed. In our Poultry Feed Formulation Manual, we have included information on the proportion in which these ingredients should be mixed in order to get an optimal feed for birds of particular ages. That is a very important consideration as you are likely to severely impact the yield or productivity of your birds if you give them the wrong feed formulation.
Chick mash will need a unique kind of formulation that is different from that of the growers’ mash, layers mash or the finisher mash used in the broilers. For broilers, there is even a post-finisher mash.
When doing the poultry feeds mixing, make sure you strike a careful balance between all the macronutrients used in the poultry mash be they the fats, proteins or carbohydrates as well as the micronutrients such as the vitamins and the enzymes. With some trial and error, you will eventually arrive at an appropriate poultry feed formulation that will be perfect for the nutritional needs of your chickens.
Below is a look at some of the basic ingredients used in poultry feeds:-
- Alfalfa Meal: This is high in protein
- Corn or maize: This is the mainstay of the chicken diet.
- Field peas: You can use this or the soybean. It is the main source of proteins in poultry feeds.
- Oats or barley
Things to Add in Your Poultry Feed Formulation
When milling your own poultry feeds, you can add following ingredients in tiny amounts:-
- Fishmeal: To help boost the protein content as well as the omega 3 in the poultry feeds.
- Crab meal: Include small amounts for both proteins and minerals
- Cultured yeast: Can provide digestive enzymes as well as minerals and B vitamins.
- Flaxseed: This can be a great source of omega 3
- Probiotic: Follow manufacturer’s directions when including these in your poultry feeds. You can also use homemade probiotics such as fermented yoghurt or fermeted vegetables.
- Oyster shell: This can be a great source of calcium, particularly for laying birds.
- A little salt
This is just a general guideline on poultry feed formulation. If you are looking for a more comprehensive guideline on how to prepare your own poultry feeds, check out our Poultry Feeds Formulation Manual.
Over the past half a century, poultry production has become more intensive and in the process supplied consumers with an abundant and healthy process of protein. Today’s consumers can look forward to safe meat, eggs and chicken by-products.
Great gains have been made in production as well as efficiency while minimizing the environmental impact partly due to the use of additives in the poultry feeds.
What are feed additives?
Almost all diets contain additives, including the diets of humans. In poultry feed manufacturing, the feed additives are used in order to boost the efficiency of the growth of the poultry stock as well as or the bird’s laying capacity, to prevent incidences of diseases in the poultry and also to improve the poultry’s feed utilization.
All the additives that are used in the poultry feed formulation must have been approved for use. They must also be used as directed with regards the to the concentration levels as well as the duration of feeding the poultry.
The poultry feed additives used are also specific to the age and the types of the birds being fed. In many cases, the guidelines for the use of feed additives in poultry feeds will be provided by the relevant government agency such as the department of agriculture in your country. Here is a look at some of the common feed additives that are included in poultry feed formulation:-
Antibiotics: Antibiotics have been used in the poultry industry since 1950 mainly to boost the growth of the birds and to improve feed efficiency. Antibiotic dietary supplementation can also significantly boost egg production.
Antioxidants: Common antioxidants used as feed additives for poultry feeds include BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. They mainly help in preventing oxidative rancidity in the bodily fat of the poultry.
Grits: Grits are hard substances that can either be soluble or insoluble. Once ingested by the chicken, they will remain trapped in the gizzard to help in facilitating the grinding of the poultry feed. Some of the common grit materials used in poultry feeds include clam shells, oyster shells, gravel, limestone, pebbles or even granite. If you are feeding your chickens mash of finely ground poultry feeds, then you may not need a lot of grit.
Xanthophylls: The xanthophylls help in producing the deep yellow pigmentation on the shank, feet, beak and egg yolks of the poultry which is quite popular with many buyers and end users. It is usually indicative of top quality poultry products.
Acidifiers: The acidifiers are added on the poultry feeds to help in lowering the PH of the feed and contribute to excellent gut health which is good for the health of the chickens. A low PH acts as a natural inhibition against the various pathogenic microbes. The acidifiers can be in the form inorganic acids or organic acids. They exert their antimicrobial function directly on the feed before it is ingested and after it has been ingested.
Here is a look at the main ingredients used in poultry feed formulation:-
Corn and Soybean Meal: There are various grains and cereals that can be used in poultry feed formulation but corn and soybean meal are by far the most popular. In Europe, wheat will be substituted for corn. Corn and soybean meal are also the lowest cost sources of energy and proteins.
Fishmeal and Meat Meal: These make for great sources of protein as well as amino acids. They also contain bone meal which makes for a great source of minerals such as Calcium and Phosphorous. Depending on their prices, these should make up anywhere from 2% to 5% of the diet being formulated.
Calcium and Phosphorous: These are the main minerals that should be included in the poultry feeds. Plant Phosphorous is likely to contain non-phytin factors. Consider that only about 30% to 40% of the plant Phosphorous is a non-phytin P. It is therefore advisable to increase the proportion a bit or supplement the organic P with inorganic sources of P.
Salt: Salt is an integral part of most poultry diets. It should make up 0.2% to 0.5% of the poultry diet.
Supplemental Lipids: These can make up to 5% of the poultry diet. The importance of the lipids in the poultry diet is that they will increase the energy utilization in your poultry by reducing the passage rate. They can also reduce the heat increment that can affect production.
Yellow Pigmentation: It is advisable to use as much yellow pigmentation as possible in your poultry feeds. A good source of yellow pigmentation for poultry feeds is yellow corn or yellow maize. You can also use other poultry feed ingredients that are great sources xanthophylls like an alfalfa meal or even corn gluten meal. The yellow pigmentation in the poultry feed will contribute to the yellow coloration of the chickens; feet, shanks, egg yolks and skin which are quite popular with end consumers.
Non-nutritive additives: The non-nutritive additives can be added to the poultry feed for a number of reasons. For example, the antibiotics can be added to control diseases and stimulate the growth of the poultry. The nitrofurans and arsenicals can be added to improve the performance of the poultry. Other non-nutritive additives that can be added in the poultry feeds include antioxidatives, antifungal compounds and antiparasitic compounds.
There are various techniques which can be used in formulating poultry feeds. All of these poultry feed formulation techniques are geared at achieving the same objective of producing high quality and well balanced poultry feeds at the least cost possible.
Here is a brief overview of some of the techniques used in poultry feed formulation:-
Trial and Error Poultry Feed Formulation Technique
The trial and error technique is the most popular method used in poultry feed formulation. As the name suggests, the feed formulation will be manipulated through a trial and error process until you are able to meet the nutritional needs of the bird. Through the trial and error method, it is possible to formulate the exact the combination that will meet all the nutrient needs of the bird.
Linear Programming (LP) Poultry Feed Formulation Method
The linear programming technique involves coming up with a least cost formulation with the use of various mathematical equations. Each of the questions can have diverse solutions but once the cost of the poultry feed ingredients is applied, you will only be able to achieve a single least cost combination to work with.
This process can be done with the help of a computer that is capable of making thousands of calculations within the shortest time possible to give the least cost formulation.
The only problem is that machine will not correct any errors caused by the use of incorrect data. There could also be errors in setting up the software tool. The rations that a machine will give you via a linear programming will only be as good as the data that has been fed into the machine.