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Poultry Farming

Alternative Poultry Farming - part 1

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From out last work on "Poultry Farming in Style", we follow it up with more details. Many people are now getting into Alternative Poultry as a passion and a way of relaxation from the beautiful sight of geese, turkeys, the beautiful quail unison singing and not leaving out the beauty of doves, ducklings, etc.

There are quite a number of birds that one can decide to rear either for fun or commercially. These include; doves, geese, ostrich, turkeys, ducks, quails, guinea fowls, and bantam poultry

If you are to enter into this kind of farming, it would be best to also rear other commercial animals like dairy goats and cows as well as rabbits. There is a twist to this combination that we will look at within these set of articles. Many of the different byproducts of the birds can be used for decorations or as feeds to other animals within your farms.

As with any other farming venture, these birds come with lots of challenges. Despite the fact that you have the passion and the will to start this kind of farming; you need to have good knowledge into how to rear them. Knowledge areas will include, but not limited to:

  • Feeds and feeding programmes
  • Poultry birds’ diseases and how to counter them
  • Marketing skills to enable you capture a market share
  • Know the championing farmer organizations within this sector as well as the government bodies that assist farmers within the sector
  • Get to know other farmers within the same sector and tap into their experiences. This will come in handy to help you avoid most of the mistakes that have been experienced by other farmers before.

Now let’s touch on the some of the technicalities that you will need before you start:

QUAILS:

Quails

Quails are a small type of birds that mature in two months. The ones reared in Kenya are mainly Brown Quails (also called Swamp Quails or Coturnix Quails). They start laying eggs at about 8 weeks and only lay in the evening roughly between 4pm and 7pm. They are mature and ready for the market at 4 to 5 weeks at which they will attain a weight of approximately 180g.

Licensing: You have to obtain a license from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to commercially rear Quails

Advantages of farming Quails:

  • Quails require minimal floor space where you can have about 6 to 10 quails for a space of one chicken. Or else, 1sq foot per bird with considerable height of the housing
  • This birds are quite hardy than other conventional birds i.e. chicken. This is mainly attributed to the fact that they are wild in nature.
  • Your quails will be ready for the market at about five weeks
  • They can lay approximately 280 eggs per year with a laying span of about 14 to 15 months.
  • They  start laying in about six to eight  weeks
  • Quail meat is considered to be White Meat
  • Nutritionally, the quail eggs are of very high nutrition and are used to treat many sorts of diseases based on number of eggs taken per day per serving.
  • There are many more advantages based on the purpose you raring the quails

Space needed to house quails

Quails are small birds and therefore do not require a big space but is necessary to provide enough space. The table below shows the amount of space needed by age of quail.

 

Minimum Space Needed by Age of Quail


 

1‐10 Days

10 days to 6 weeks

6weeks to 14 weeks

Floor space

5-10 birds/sq. ft

1-2 birds/sq. ft

1 bird/sq. ft

 




Sexing/Breeding:

The distinguishing factors between the male and the female quails are: male quails have a narrower/slim appearance while the females are a bit heavier with a broader chest. Males’ chest is rusty reddish while the female chest is whitish and spotted black. The males are also more aggressive and will try to continuously mate with the laying

Keep roughly four to five females per male (1male to 4-5females) to maximize on fertilized eggs. Avoid having many males within the same cage. Males are territorial and will tend to pick fights with each other.

You can keep several groups of quails on the same big cage (i.e. 2-3 groups), the tricks is try introduce a new group on not so distant date from the older group. If the quails adapt to each other, they will be aggressive to new members, especially males.

The males will sexually mature at roughly 8 weeks while for females it is roughly 6 weeks. For regions with below 15 Degrees Celsius, laying of eggs stops, high temperatures are also not favorable.

Fertilized quail eggs will hatch in 18days.

Quails Hatching

Feeding the Quails,

You can feed quails on protein containing grains, vegetables (irish potatoes, grass, cabbage etc) Quails need more of protein in their feeds than chicken.

If you are keeping them for eggs production; from the 1st to 3rd week, feed the quails with chick/starter mash. From the 3rd week to when they start laying (at 8 weeks) feed them growers mash. After they start laying, you can now feed them layers’ mash till when egg production rate starts dropping. Proper feeding of the egg production quails with feeds of the right nutrient concentrates will help keep the egg production rate high and avoid thin shelled eggs

If the quails are for Meet Production; from the 1st to 3rd week, same as the layer quails feed them with chick/starter mash. From the 3rd week to when they are ready for the market, feed them the Finisher Mash.

If you would like the best output from your quails, you might need to formulate your own feeds.

In general, this is the rations:

Growth Stage

Grams per Day

Protein Percentage

Chick stage

7g/day

24%

Growers stage

17g/day

22-24%

Laying stage

23g/day

18-20%

Provide your quails with clean fresh water at all times

Quail Droppings

Quail droppings can be used as feed for dairy cows and goats

Quail Droppings

Care for the quail eggs

  • Do not wash the eggs or wipe them with a damp cloth as this will remove the protective layer of the shell and expose the egg to entry germs.
  • Holding the eggs for longer than 10 days affects their hatchability.
  • You should always have clean hands when handling the eggs as hands are generally oily and this can clog the pores of the shell

Common causes for poor hatchability of the eggs

  • Continuous disturbance of breeders during mating season results in a higher percentage of infertile eggs
  • Using eggs from old breeders.
  • Hen crippled or deformed results in infertile eggs.
  • Holding eggs in storage too long.
  • Improperly storing eggs before incubation.
  • Failure to turn eggs.
  • Not allowing stored eggs to reach room temperature before incubating.
  • Wide variation of temperature during incubation.
  • Improper humidity during incubation and particularly during hatch-out (day 21-23).
  • Poor sanitation.
  • Washing eggs.

Diseases:

Quails will mostly suffer from the normal avian diseases. Those who are already into broiler or layers farming know almost all these diseases (Click HERE for most of the poultry diseases)

But there is one disease that fatally attacks quails:

  • Ulcerative Enteritis (Quail Disease)

This is popularly a quail disease. It is caused by bacteria if your quails drink or eat contaminated water or feed and sometimes their own droppings. This can easily wipe out you quails in a few days.

  • Quail Bronchitis

This is also very common on quails and can as well as “Ulcerative Enteritis” easily wipe out your stock.

  • All the other diseases are common to chicken (i.e. Broilers, Layers, Rabbits and other alternative poultry like turkey, geese, ducks etc.)

Click HERE for more info on the avian diseases.

If you know of solution or treatment for these diseases, please advice other farmers on the comments.

Tips in prevention of common disease outbreak

  • Do not hunt cheap chicks or eggs. Know the breeder's history. Isolate purchased chicks from your stock for at least 3 weeks, in case they carry a disease.
  • Start with clean disinfected pens and equipment. Clean water trough daily and refill with clean fresh l water. Clean feeders every time u refill.
  • Always provide several sources of feed and water to the birds.
  • Do not crowd birds.
  • Provide heat for sick birds. Chicks chill easily and require additional heat for a more speedy recovery.
  • Isolate young stock from adult breeders. Young birds are highly susceptible to many disease organisms.
  • Care for the youngest birds first and the oldest last.
  • After working with known sick birds, do not visit healthy birds unless you take a bath, change clothes, and disinfect or change shoes.
  • Remove individual birds and isolate from the rest until they recover and also remove dead birds from the pens daily and properly dispose them off.
  • Keep floor dry as wet floors are an excellent source of diseases and internal parasitic infections.
  • Do not allow unwarranted visitation. People can spread disease on the soles of shoes. For those who must visit, prospective buyers or health and management advisors, provide plastic boots or buckets containing disinfectant for shoes before entering the pen area.

Generally, to avoid disease disappointment with your quail stock:

  • Disinfect the housing before stocking it with quails
  • Quarantine sickly quails
  • Raise Quails separate from other poultry
  • Maintain cleanliness on the drinkers and feeders
  • Handle the quails gently and with maximum cleanliness

Supply and Marketing:

Locally the eggs are available in some local supermarkets i.e. Nakumatt, ABC place, Chandaria supermarkets, Karen Provision Store, and Tuskys. For the Quail meat, you still have to order from the farmers. They are not readily available on the markets

We highly doubt there are enough farmers to satisfy the demand within the food industry as well as the beauty products industry.

It could be the perfect time for farmers to start Quail Farming and be innovative to be able to entice the Kenyan community to add Quails to their dinner tables. Do not wait till supply exceeds demand for you to start on Quail farming.

Below is a pack of quail eggs:

Pack of Quail Eggs

And below is the price at KSh. 350/=

Quail Egg Prices

Below, for a taste of the eggs, you might need to beat 5 or 6 of them per serving:

Six Euail Eggs on the pan

Broiler Chicken Startup Light Touch

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Few days old chicks

The process of rearing broilers can be a sensitive affair from the time you get them from the distributors/hatchery when they are 1day old chicks until they reach maturity.

For any kind of animal husbandry the work always starts prior to the animal even reaching the farm and for chicken it’s no different.

STEP 1: The Brooder

Before you go and get your chicks, you should first ensure that you have adequately prepared the brooder. A brooder is a farm structure specifically constructed for chicks with special attention to temperature control and proper hygiene.

A chick brooder

Temperature control is important for day old chicks because they do not have the ‘mother hen’ to shelter them from the cold and they do not have feathers and instead have a fur like covering. Without a source of heat for the chicks the mortality rate goes up and one risks losing the entire lot.

Temperature control can be achieved through two main ways:

  • Use of jiko – this involves using the traditional charcoal burning jiko as a source of heat for the chicks
  • Use of mercury bulbs – which are special bulbs designed to produce heat. Please note that care should be taken when adjusting how low the mercury bulb should hang. If it’s too high then the chicks will hurdle together and the ones in the bottom will suffocate and die. If it’s too low some chicks may die of heat stroke. A good indicator of how low to hang the bulb is through observing how the chicks react to the heat, if they hurdle together, lower the bulb a bit lower but if some move away to far corners then raise the bulb because it’s too low. See a mearcury bulb on the image below:

A brooder mercury bulb to maintrain enough warmth

Below are the chicks in the night with the light on:

Chicks with the mercury bulb on

STEP 2

Care should be taken when transporting day old chicks especially when using a car it is important to make sure the vehicle is well ventilated and that the chicks are not stacked up to the extent that some have no access to fresh air.

STEP 3

With day old chicks it is advisable to start them off immediately on anti-stress vitamins  to help them cope with the sudden change in environment. Common anti-stress vitamins in the market include: Aliseryl, Egocin and Agrar [if un-available agrovets can always advise you on a good substitute]

You can also mix the vitamin water with some glucose and glycerine. The glucose gives the chicks energy and keeps them active increasing the speed of their metabolism so that they can eat more and develop faster. The glycerine [in small portions] helps ‘smoothen’ the chicks’ intestines aiding them in excretion of their waste.

Below is a sample of vitamin water mix; you can as well mix other meds or vaccines in there.

Chicks vitamin water mix

STEP 4

For broilers, you have the starter meal and the finisher meal. The starter meal is a mash made up of finely ground maize, fish, millet and sorghum mixed together. This meal is specifically for day old chicks because it is easy on their delicate digestive systems and it is advisable to keep the chicks on this meal for at least the first 2wks.

After the first 2wks the chicks ought to have developed feathers and you can thus move them from the brooder to the main chicken house and can change the meal to finishers mash or pellets. The major difference between the finisher mash/pellets and the starter mash is that the finisher mash is not as finely ground as the starters mash which is understandable because at this time their digestive system is well developed and can handle the heavier feeds.

You can keep the broilers on the finishers meal [being fed 3times a day] for 4wks – 5wks before they reach maturity and can be sold.

STEP 5. VACCINES & VITAMINS

Below is a schedule of the vaccines needed to reduce mortality rate for broilers:

  • After  1wk – Newcastle vaccine
  • After 2wks – Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro) sientific names: [Bur 706, TAD, Hipra(IBD)]
  • After 3wks – Newcastle vaccine
  • After 4wks – Gumboro vaccine

The above vaccines are administered via the chicken’s drinking water. In order to ensure that they take the vaccine it is advisable to deny the chicken water for about 2hrs to make sure they are thirsty before giving them the vaccinated water.

OTHER USEFUL TIPS

  • Maintain a Monitoring & Evaluation worksheet – This will help comparing one lot to the next and help identify areas that need improvement. Have a look at what i use:
    Documents attached to this article:
    FileFile sizeDownloads
    Download this file (Monitoring&Evaluation Worksheet Sample.xls)Monitoring&Evaluation Worksheet Sample.xls35 Kb2067
  • Have a well defined/regular feeding pattern – This will make sure the animals are not ‘stressed’ and weight progress is even
  • Make sure the chicken house floor is always dry – This will reduce chances of bacterial or viral infections.
  • Disinfect the brooder 1-2weeks before introducing the day old chicks. This is the same for the main poultry house; disinfect it 1-2 weeks before bringing in the chicks from the brooder.
  • Make sure the brooder/poultry house is well light during the day and night. This encourages the chicks/chicken to keep feeding and hence attain the required weight in time.
  • Ensure the structure is well aerated.

THE ONLY EQUIPMENTS ARE:

You will need:

  1. Feeding troughs. There are several options, choose the best for you.
  2. Drinkers: either plastic or metalic drinkers. Plastics are easy to clean and can last long
  3. Enough lighting during the night. You may prefer having electric power available.
  4. A brooder for the day old chicks. A brooder can be within the main poultry house by simply curving out a place for the chicks and removing the guides as the chicks attain 2wks. For a professional brooder it would need to off the ground and separated from the main house.

A brooder off the ground

5. A jiko or heat-generating electric bulbs within the brooder to maintain enough heat within the brooder during the night or during cold day times.

 

By Kimani Mbogo, a poultry farmer in Nairobi, Kenya

Poultry Farming in Style

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When you hear of poultry, you will immediately think of the usual chicken reared by professional farmers. These will be birds like broilers (mainly reared for white meat) and layers (as the name goes, they are reared for eggs).

Several farmers across the country do a different kind of poultry which is more profitable to them. The sectors has less competition hence pushing the profit margins higher than those of layers and broiler.

These farmers are rearing Quails, Guinea fouls, Ostrich, Turkey, Ducks, and Goose. Some other poultry include Israeli Local Breed of chicken (see the picture below) imported into the country as eggs and hutched or as live birds.

Israeli Local Rooster

An Israeli Local Breed of rooster

This kind of chicken is way bigger than the local Kenya chicken weighing and fetching more profits as well

Goose

Goose

 

Turkey

Turkey

Others include Bantam Poultry. These are a smaller variety of poultry compared to the others. They include Bantam Ducks, Chicken, and Geese.


Bantam/Dwaf Chicken

Bantam Chicken

These birds are most sort after as ornamental birds and come at a fortune well at KSh. 500-9500/= a mature bird (prices are per farmer)

These are some of the high profit poultry you can keep at your backyard or back at the country side to fetch some more income.

You may be wondering where to get the market for these kind of birds. The market as explained by one farmer at Ruiru is insatiable. Hotels and fellow farmers are after these kind of birds more than the usual layers and broilers that have heavily flooded the market all over the country. Fellow farmers will be after the birds for breeding. Breeding stock cost a little more than birds sold for meat.

And the challenges:

Birds like quails and bantams don’t hatch eggs. You have to use an incubator to hatch there eggs. They are poor mothers as well meaning you have to keep the chicks in a brooder to keep a low mortality. Other birds like turkey are very poor mothers. Turkey chicks are also very susceptible to diseases at their early stages which makes their survival rate very low if not well taken care of.

To rear the wild birds (such as Ostrich, Guinea fowl and Quail), you will have to apply for a permit from KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service), which is not a hustle to get nowadays as a Karen farmer explains.