How to run a profitable Poultry Farming business

23/01/2021 by in Entrepreneurship, Farm To Business

An unexpected phenomenon has been occurring in Africa over the past 3 decades. People of all kinds of unrelated professions have dropped out of their jobs and decided to start poultry farming business. Most of these adventurous folks have no prior experience in farming. They just got to a point where they said Screw this job, I’m going to become a farmer.

Over the last 30 years, Many small independent family farms have either been bought up, Bankrupted, or been legislated out of business. Most of the food today is produced and owned by massive corporations. So with all the cards stacked against the little guys, how are some of these micro-farms surviving and even thriving in this hostile environment.  

Many poultry farming beginners usually start with just chickens. We have engaged many local chicken farmers across the Africa continent rearing birds and selling them to other farmers who want to bulk up or start their own flocks.  

Many of the farms have strong reputation in their community for producing some of  the finest birds. People make long drives from multiple states just to get their hands on their rare breeds. What is even more surprising several of these folks are not full time farmers?

Poultry Farming for Beginners

We have toured many poultry farming communities to get a general feel and we discovered the most popular breed is the layer hens for commercial egg production.  These eggs are in high demand they go for about $3 a tray in the right season. Each hen laying an egg just about every single day.

Through trial and error, they have become quite good at hatching all kinds of poultry. The brooder house, just a little handy house I use to put my incubators and hatchers in. The chicks, once they hatch they leave the hatcher. They usually keep them in the tubs with heat lamps until they are about 3 weeks old. This continues until they are old enough to go outside to the outside pens and those also have heat lamps.

You have to keep chicks at 95 degrees the first week and 5 degrees less each week. until they are fully feathered. Once they get to within 4 days of hatching they go into the hatching trey and once they are all out and dry and walking around and everything is done, the hatcher tray comes out and the chicks get to go into the little tubs, with the heat lamps on them and water and food One of the hardest parts about breeding chickens is just keeping them safe.

Many poultry farming communities have also found innovative ways to keep a peaceful truce with a local den of foxes like sacrificing a virgin to appease a dragon they culls their sick birds once a week and offers them up as tribute. Instead of burning the carcasses they throw them in front of the foxes den in the woods.

This has reduced attrition dramatically, but they still have  a second line of defense for other predators like hiring bird watchers their only purpose in life are to just keep foxes and coyotes out of  the pens and has worked quite well.

Another observation we made is that some farmers  went way overboard, hatched way too many, had to build more pens. So it became too costly to keep the birds, we recommend only a manageable number of birds that people are wanting instead of hatching so many. This sometimes has some unattended side effects. Failed farmers tend to dump their chickens or sell them at giveaway rates.

What breeds are recommends for poultry farming beginners.

There is a lot of information about the poultry farming online. They will go through the whole breeds and they will tell you which breeds are aggressive and which breeds are friendly or which breeds lay eggs better.

There is a breed of chicken that lays blue eggs and this breed tends to be very calm and very docile. In regards to most people starting out, we also suggested strongly,  learning from someone with  chickens experience is super important, because books and the internet are great but firsthand experience is wonderful and if you can get a mentor to help you that’s the best way to go.

Of course, most people starting out poultry farming do not want to invest the money setting up a chicken farm this size before they know if they even like it. A good place to start is your own back yard.  Just keep it small and simple for starters and gradually expands as the business grows.

Living in the city has a very different set of complications. I know in some places in the country there are legal problems or legal hurdles that people have to jump over to be able to breed birds, but It is perfectly legal in many African countries to have a few birds. Usually, the biggest problem with raising chickens in the city is space.  

 what advice would you give to someone who just wants to set up chickens for the first time in their back yard?

 We would not underestimate the existence and tenacity of the predators that exist in your area. Learn about what eats chickens and what’s around, because we had no idea. how many opossums, raccoons, hawks, preys, etc.  Even cats pawing underneath the coop and unloosed one of the wooden planks and could be a major concern. You just never know what is hungry for a chick or chicken. To learn about how you can keep them safe.

How do you keep your chickens safe?

That is probably the most important thing you will have to deal with because it turns out everything eats chickens. You must keep them enclosed in the pen at night and close them up in a coop so raccoons and opossums don’t get them. During the day hawks are a problem too and requires a different strategy, many farmers string fishing line in sort of a web overhead to keep the hawks from coming down into the pen to get them.  This to a large extend reduces hawk attacks significantly. Also important to note, every time you fix a problem the predators find a way through it or the chickens find a way out of it.

how to make a low cost pen for the first time.

Well, there are a lot of potential designs out there; there is no need to reinvent the wheel unless you want to. You can get online and there are all kinds of designs from having no money to wanting to spend $500 on a fence and a coop. You could get your coop for as low as $100. Sometimes you could just start with chicken wire and some wooden planks. Then perhaps upgrade to pallets when they begin to escape under the wire.  Some may still fly even though you clipped their wings, in that case just raise it up with more chicken wire, hopefully, that will deter them.

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