Poultry farming is an indispensable part of the Nigerian farming and agricultural sector because it has been practised for many years, and it is a major source of eggs and one of the sources of meat in the country. If you are still wondering what poultry farming is all about, it is simply the rearing of domestic birds like chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, etc., for commercial or subsistence purposes.
So, if you have been looking for a good and lucrative business to start in Nigeria, poultry farming may be an excellent option. It is considered one of the most profitable agricultural businesses in Nigeria today. The best part is that it doesn’t necessarily require a huge startup capital; you can start small and gradually expand the farm with time. So here is an easy guide to starting your poultry farming in Nigeria.
Create a Budget
A poultry farm can be as big as you want; you can have a very large farm with many workers or a very small one that will require only a little capital to start it. So, how much do you intend to invest in this poultry farming business?
Before you conclude on your budget, it is best you confirm the prices of everything you need for the farm so you can make informed decisions.
Choose the Birds to be Reared
There are different types of domestic birds you can choose from; all of them are profitable and have similar benefits, but some are easier to sell than others. So you need to consider your choices carefully. Here are the types of domestic birds you can rear in a poultry farm:
- Ducks and geese
- Guinea fowl and squabs
After choosing the type of bird you want to rear, you still need to select the breed because they each have several species with different characteristics; some are meant to lay eggs, while some are for meat production. So you need to know what suits your business concept and also it is okay to have a combined poultry farm.
Select a Good Location for Your Farm
Location matters a lot in poultry farming, it can go a long way to determine the health and well-being of your poultry birds, and it is also best for it not to be too close to residential areas due to the noise and offensive odour poultry farms tend to produce.
Moving forward, you should determine the size of your poultry farm by the number of birds you want to raise and how spacious you want their shelter to be. If you can’t afford a new land or site, you can use any available land, even the one in your residence, as long as you do not inconvenience the people around you.
In addition, your poultry farm should be easily accessible with good roads, well-ventilated, and if possible, in a very open environment. Also, while the farm should be accessible to people, you must ensure that it is not accessible to predators and poultry enemies that can cause harm to your birds.
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Build Farm Housing or Shelter
Now that you have acquired a good site for your poultry farm, you need to erect a structure that will shelter the birds. You can choose from these four types of poultry farm housing systems:
- The free-range or extensive system
- The folding unit system
- The semi-intensive system
- The intensive system
The Free-range or Extensive System
This is the best housing system for poultry farming; in this system, the birds are allowed to roam freely during the day, and then at night, they are taken to a shelter. This shelter is usually built with poles and temporary roofing.
The free-range poultry house is suitable for beginner farmers with little capital because it does not just minimize the cost of building a poultry farm house, it also reduces the feeding cost since the birds will be trained to look for food from their environment. However, this poultry farm housing system has disadvantages; the birds will be exposed to predators, thieves, and cold since they can move freely.
Folding Units System
The folding unit system is a small portable house with a run; the birds can use the run during the day and return to the house at night. The house can have wheels attached for easy movement and can be moved to a new area of clean grassland whenever cleaning is necessary.
This poultry farm housing system can keep your birds safe from predators, and there is no need for expensive fencing. However, the labour cost is high, and it takes more time to feed and collect eggs.
The Semi-intensive System
This semi-intensive system of housing has limited space; the pen and run are situated on a small land with wire mesh fencing. The birds spend their day in the run and take shelter in the pen at night. The run is usually divided into two halves, while the pen is located at the centre. This system requires a high fencing cost, but the birds are protected from predators.
The Intensive System
This is the most efficient and suitable poultry farm housing system for large-scale farming. If you plan to own a big commercial poultry farm, this will be the best option for you because it enhances productivity in many ways and makes the day-to-day management of the poultry farm very easy.
The birds are confined to a house or cage, so they have restricted movement and tend to save more energy; this poultry farm housing system allows you to accurately apply scientific management practices like medication, breeding, culling and feeding to your farm. Also, you can easily identify and treat birds to prevent an outbreak of disease with this system.
There are different types of intensive systems for poultry farm housing, and they are listed below:
- Slatted or wired-floor system.
- Cage system or battery system.
- Deep litter system.
- Combination of the slatted floor and deep litter system.
Get the Feed and Other Items Needed
If you have chosen a suitable poultry farm housing system, you can now buy the things you will need for the daily feeding and care of the birds. First, you should find out the best feed for the type of bird you intend to rear and the feed you will buy will depend on the kind of birds, their age, and their breed.
There are certain items you will also need to put in place for the smooth running of your poultry farm and they are listed below:
- Water pot.
- Laying nest.
- Ventilation fan.
- Vaccination equipment.
- Feeders and drinkers.
- Egg washer.
- Egg tray.
- Transport crates.
- Egg handling nest.
- Debeaking machine.
- Brooder machines.
Buy the Birds
Getting the birds shouldn’t be difficult since you already have everything prepared for their well-being; look for a good supplier, ensure the birds are healthy, and they can be of any age you prefer. You can buy birds that are four weeks old or more, but the younger they are, the better it will be so you can ensure they are raised in a healthy environment.
Feed and Care for the Birds
From this stage, all you have to do is keep feeding the birds and always upgrade their feed according to their age, separate the sick birds from healthy ones and treat them till they get better. It is not also advisable to mix different types of birds or breeds of the same birds together because they may result in fighting and the bigger birds will oppress the smaller ones.
Market and Start Selling the Birds or Their Products
Your birds will start laying eggs from 18 to 22 weeks of age, depending on the type of poultry farm bird, so you can market and sell the eggs. Then, for the birds that do not lay eggs; you can start selling them once they are three months old or more.
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This is basically all there is to poultry farming in Nigeria; it is very lucrative but not so easy to start. However, if you take your time to get the right information needed for poultry farming, you will have an easier and more productive experience.
On that note, before you start your poultry farming, it is advisable to visit other successful poultry farms and get to see the practical aspects of the business. Try to ask a lot of questions so you will know precisely what you are doing when you eventually start your own. Nevertheless, this guide will go a long way to help you get started on the right foot, so good luck with your business venture.