- Poultry industry in Kenya has developed tremendously due to the use of artificial incubation and brooding and easy availability of hybrid birds, both eggers and broilers.
- Poultry production has become an easy source of income and food for the rural as well as the urban communities.
- The term poultry includes domestic birds such as turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, doves and pigeons.
- Of late ostrich farming has become a lucrative activity.
- Poultry production starts with incubation of eggs.
Parts of an Egg
- Forms 10-12% of the whole egg content.
- Made of calcium and phosphorus.
- Protects the inner egg contents.
- Made of inner and outer membranes.
- Lining of the egg shell.
- Constitutes 1 % of the total egg content.
Albumen (egg white)
- About 55-60% of the total egg content.
- It is divided into chalaza, thick and thin albumen.
- Chalaza holds the egg yolk in position.
- Albumen serves as food for the chick.
- 30-33% of the total egg content.
- Supply embryo with nutrient
Germinal disc -The embryo which develops into a chick if fertilized.
Vitelline membrane – Gives the yolk its round shape.
- Air sac
- Keeps the egg fresh by allowing gaseous exchange.
- Provides oxygen for the embryo
- This is the practice of determining the internal qualities of an egg by examining it against a light source.
- The egg is placed on a hole made on a .cardboard box.
- This is called a candling box.
- A source of light is placed in the box directly under the egg.
- The observer then looks through the egg against the source of light below.
- Abnormalities on and within the egg can be seen through the translucent shell.
- Involves the provision of fertile eggs with the proper condition for embryonic development.
Selection of Eggs for Incubation
- Should be fertile.
- Should be of medium size about 55- 60gms in weight.
- Should have smooth shell.
- Should be oval shaped.
- Should not be cracked.
- Eggs should be clean to ensure that pores are open.
- Should not have abnormalities such as blood spots, meat spots and double yolk. .
- Eggs should not be more than 5 days old.
- Eggs should be fresh that is collected within one week.
Internal egg qualities can be determined through the egg candling process.
Methods of Incubation
- This involves the use of a broody hen which sits on the eggs to provide them with conditions necessary for hatching.
- Takes 20-21 days.
- The hen is given about 10-15 eggs.
Signs‘ of Broodiness in Poultry
- Tendency to sit on an egg after laying.
- Moulting of the hen.
- Making some noise at the laying nests.
- Feathers are raised.
- It becomes aggressive when disturbed.
- It stops laying.
Preparation and Management of Natural Incubation
- The hen is given “China eggs” to sit on to induce broodiness.
- When broody the hen should be provided with a nesting nest or a saucershaped nest scooped on the ground.
- The nest shall be lined with soft bedding and fertile eggs provided.
- The eggs are set in the evening or night.
- The bird is dusted to control external parasites.
- The hen is allowed t hour outside to feed and exercise everyday.
- Broken eggs should be removed immediately.
- The hen should not be disturbed.
Advantages of Natural Incubation
- It is cheap.
- High hatchability.
- Low risk involved.
- Useful in small scale production.
- Less skill is required.
- Less laborious.
Disadvantages of Natural Incubation
- Egg production is low because the hen will not lay eggs during incubation.
- It is not possible to plan when to incubate.
- If the hen dies the eggs will be destroyed.
- If the hen deserts the eggs or refuses to sit on them the farmer will incur losses.
- Only few chicks can be hatched at a time by one hen.
- Diseases and parasites could easily be transmitted to the chicks.
- This is the use of artificial device known as an incubator for hatching eggs.
Conditions Necessary for Artificial Hatching of Eggs
- Temperature – maintain at 37.5°C-39.4 °C throughout to control the rate of embryonic development of the chick. High or low temperatures are lethal.
- Ventilation – Good air circulation.
- Carbon dioxide: oxygen ratio maintained at 0.03%:21 %.
- Relative humidity – Maintained at 60%.
- High humidity leads to marshy chicks
- low humidity the chick may stick to the shell.
Turning of Eggs –
- Done 3-4 times a day to facilitate uniform distribution of heat for uniform development of chick.
- Turn slowly 180 ° clockwise along the axis to avoid breaking the blood v
- Some incubators have automatic turning mechanism.
- Cleanliness – cleaning and disinfecting the incubator with formaldehyde solution.
Advantages of Artificial Incubation
- It facilitates large scale production of chicks.
- Incubators are always ready when needed.
- Artificial incubation leads to higher egg production because broodiness in the hens is not required, so there is more time for laying eggs.
Disadvantages of Artificial Incubation
- High initial capital in buying an incubator.
- High level of management and attention is required.
- It is not economical for only a small number of eggs.
- High risks involved in turning the eggs.
Brooding and Rearing of Chicks
- Brooding is the rearing of day old chicks upto 8 weeks old for the layer chicks and 2 weeks for the broiler chicks.
- For successful brooding the source of the chicks should be considered.
Sources of Chicks
The following factors should be considered:
- The reputation of the supplier (hatchery).
- Time taken by the chicks in transit.
- Proper sexing and breed identification.
- A hen is allowed to take care of the chicks.
- She provides them with warmth and security.
- She stays with the chicks for 8 weeks and then rejects them.
- It is cheap.
- Less labour is needed.
- Suitable for small scale.
Disadvantages of Natural Brooding
- Not possible to produce large numbers of chicks.
- The hen goes off laying during brooding time.
- Only possible when a broody hen is available.
- The chicks are raised artificially in a structure known as a brooder until they are 8 weeks old.
- Temperature – should be about 35°C in the 15th week and reduced to 21°C by the 8th week.
- Litter – wood shavings which are capable of absorbing 60% moisture without showing wetness should be used.
- Space confinement – Done by use of hardboards which are about 25cm high and form a circular space. A space of 1m2 for 25 chicks is required.
- Feeders and waterers – should be enough for the chicks and evenly distributed in the brooder.
- Ventilators – windows should be enough to allow proper air circulation but direct draught should be avoided.
Types of Heaters in the Brooder
- Electric heaters – one ordinary bulb 100 watts can raise 30 chicks.
- One infrared bulb 240 watts can raise 100 chicks.
- Kerosene burners – Hurricane lamps can raise 100 chicks.
- Charcoal burners – these are specially made jikos with heat deflectors.
Preparation Before Chicks Arrive
- Start 2-3 days before arrival.
- The brooder house should be cleaned to remove old litter and then disinfected.
- New litters 5-1Ocm high should be put in and covered with absorbent materials/news papers.
- Equipment should be cleaned, disinfected and tested to make sure that they are working.
- The brooder is lit about 6 hours before the chicks arrive.
- Feed and water should be placed into shallow containers.
- Brooder space should be confined with a hard board to prevent chicks straying far from the source of heat.
Management After Arrival of the Chicks
- Chicks are placed in the brooder during the day to familiarize with the brooder.
- If chicks arrive stressed and weak they should be given glucose solution in the waterers.
- In case the heat source is charcoal burners they should be covered with wire mesh.
- Feed chicks with chick mash which is later mixed with growers mash as the chicks grow.
- Clean water should be provided and changed regularly.
- Constant attention should be given to the chicks for the first 2 weeks.
- Any vices should be checked and controlled.
- Any dead chicks should be removed as soon as seen.
- Ventilation should be used to control the temperature and humidity in the brooder.
- Constant disinfection is required at the entrance to avoid diseases.
- Brooder space should be increased as the chicks grow.
- Debeaking should be done at 10 days old.
- Vaccination against diseases such as Gumboro after 2 weeks, New Castle at 3-4 weeks and fowl typhoid at 7 weeks.
- Dusting to control external parasites.
- Growers’ mash should be introduced gradually at 7 weeks old.
- Chicks are removed from the brooder when they are 8 weeks old.
- On average the chick uses about 1.5kg – 2.2kg of chick mash by the time it is 8 weeks old.
Temperature Control in the Brooder
If the brooder temperatures are low the following should be done:
- Brooder space is reduced.
- Heaters are increased.
- Ventilators are closed.
If the brooder temperatures are too high the following should be done:
- Brooder space is increased.
- Heaters should be reduced.
- Ventilators should be opened.
Management of the Growers
- The growers are birds at the age of 9 weeks to the point of lay that is at 18 weeks.
- Growers should be fed on growers’
- By this time the growers should be occupying the main poultry house.
- Sick birds should be isolated and treated.
- A foot bath for constant disinfection should be placed at the entrance.
- Each bird is fed 115 gms per day of growers’ mash.
- Greens and soluble grit should also be provided.
- Clean water should be provided all the time (adilibitum).
- Drenching against internal parasites should be done by adding a dewormer into the water.
- Vermins should be controlled.
- Litter should be kept dry by turning.
- Vaccination should be done as required.
- Layer pullets require dimly lit house.
Management of the Layers
- Layers’ mash should be introduced at 18 weeks and increased gradually.
- The birds start laying at 18-21 weeks.
- The birds should be vaccinated against New Castle and fowl typhoid.
- Enough floor space roosts, feeders and waterers should be provided.
- Each hen should be given 120gms per day of layers’ mash.
- Clean water should be provided adlibitum.
- Eggs should be collected twice a day at noon and in the evening.
- Green leaves should be provided to keep the birds busy thus preventing cannibalism and improve the yellow colour of the yolk.
- Grains should be given in addition to the layers’ mash at the rate of 65gms per bird per day.
- Soluble grit or oyster shells should be provided at all times for efficient digestion and strong shelled eggs.
- Layers should be fed according to their body weight and the rate of egg production for example a 70kg bag should feed 100 layers for 4-5 days.
- Enough laying nests should be provided at least 1 per 5 layers.
- The laying boxes should be dimly lit to reduce egg eating.
- Debeaking should be done when necessary.
- Broken eggs and dead birds should be disposed off properly.
- The non-layers and cannibals should be culled.
Management of Broilers
- Broilers are table birds kept for meat production.
- They have high growth rates or high feed conversion ratio.
- The objective is to produce a kilogram of quality poultry meat from less than two kg of broiler feed.
- The broiler chick requires special broiler feed from day old to 4 weeks of age.
- Broiler starters’ mash or crumbs should be fed.
- This contains coccidiostat, high level of protein, vitamins and trace elements for early growth.
- From 4 weeks to 8 weeks they are given broiler follow-on mash or pellets.
- This feed contains high level of metabolisable energy to ensure a good cover of subcutaneous fat in the finished broiler.
- From 8 weeks until slaughter finisher pellets should be given to increase the size.
- Adequate clean water should be provided at all times (adlibitum).
- High level of hygiene should be maintained to reduce mortality rate.
- Birds should be dusted with appropriate pesticides to control external parasites.
- Deworming should be done routinely.
- Vaccination against common diseases should be done.
- Dead birds should be disposed off properly.
- Broilers should be kept under deep litter system, the house should be well ventilated and well lit.
Poultry Rearing Systems
- semi intensive
- intensive systems.
The Extensive Systems
- Birds are set free throughout the day to fend for themselves.
- Birds are confined in night shelters for the night.
- There is no supplementation.
- Birds eat insects and green leaves therefore less feed is required.
- Cheap method.
- Cannibalism and egg eating are reduced since the birds are not crowded.
- Manure is evenly spread in the runs.
- Low labour requirement.
- Birds get plenty of exercises thus helping to keep in good health.
- No need to provide grit as birds pick it from the soil.
- More land is required if a farmer wants to rear many birds.
- Birds can be stolen or eaten by predators.
- Eggs get lost in the vegetation or stolen.
- Eggs get dirty.
- Difficult to determine layers from non-layers.
- Birds get easily infected with diseases and parasites of the area.
- Breeding programme is not easy to follow.
- Birds can destroy crops where perimeter fencing is not constructed.
- Low productivity per unit area.
- Birds are confined in small portable structures called folds.
- A fold measures 3.5m long, 1.5m wide and 1.5m height.
- 1/3 of the fold is roofed while the rest is enclosed with wire mesh.
- Birds get plenty of sunlight.
- Birds get fresh grass as the fold is moved to new grounds.
- Manure is evenly spread in the field.
- Less feed is used because birds eat grass.
- Reduces build up of parasites and diseases since the fold is moved often.
- Birds are protected from predators.
- Few birds are kept per fold.
- It is laborious since the folds are moved from one place to the other.
- Individual egg production record is difficult to keep.
- The fold does not last long because of
- high frequency of handling.
- The return per unit area of land is low.
Deep Litter System
- Birds are confined in a house throughout their life.
- The floor of the house is made up of litter which accumulates over time.
- Enough feeders, waterers and laying boxes are provided depending on the number of birds and space available.
- Movable roosts and perches made of timber frames should be provided in the house.
- Stress and vices should be watched closely and controlled.
- Eggs should be collected as frequently as possible to prevent dirt and egg eating.
- The house should be dimly lit.
- The floor space requirement should be 1m2 per 2-3 birds.
- High stocking rate per unit area of land.
- Low labour requirement.
- Fast accumulation of manure.
- There is control of feeding, egg production and movement of birds.
- Safety of the birds is guaranteed from predators.
- No loss of eggs.
- Useful method when rearing breeding stock.
- Regular cleaning of the house is not necessary since the litter absorbs the droppings.
- Easy collection of eggs.
- High incidence of cannibalism like egg eating, feather plucking and toe pecking.
- Pests and disease causing organisms accumulate in the litter.
- Individual records of the birds are not possible.
- May be difficult to find litter.
- Eggs become dirty if laid on the floor.
- Feeders and waterers may be contaminated by the litter.
- The system encourages broodiness in hens.
- High infestation of diseases if the management is below standard.
- If there is a disease outbreak, it can spread very quickly throughout the house due to the communal housing.
- High cost of building deep litter house.
Battery Cage System
- Birds are confined in cages which are placed in the poultry house.
- The cages are made of wire mesh
- Each cage contains 1-3 birds.
- Water and feed troughs together with eggs trays are fitted along the front side of the cages.
- The floor of the cages should be slanting to allow the eggs to roll out of the cages.
- Droppings from the cages fall from behind for easy cleaning.
- Records are easily kept therefore culling is easy.
- Birds do not become broody.
- More eggs are collected due to restricted movement of the hens and complete control of egg eating.
- Tender meat is obtained from the culls because the muscles have not been toughened much.
- Handling is easier than in the other systems and individual attention to hens is given.
- Stocking rate is very high.
- Vices are greatly reduced.
- Eggs are clean because hens do not step on them.
- The system can easily be mechanised.
- Birds do not contaminate the food and water.
- Sick birds can be detected easily and isolated for treatment.
- Wire floors prevent re-infestation of parasitic worms and coccidiosis.
- No bullying during feeding.
- Low labour requirement.
- Initial costs for cages, equipment and house are excessively high.
- Requires high level of management.
- Higher maintenance costs where automation is used.
- Birds may get fatigue due to lack of exercises thus lowering productivity.
- In case of disease outbreak, spreading is very fast.
- Birds develop bruises on combs, breasts and toes as they stick their necks out-to feed and walk in the cages.
- Not useful when rearing breeding stock and the rearing of broilers.
- Cannot be used for brooding young chicks.
Stress and Vices in Chicken
- Stress is a condition imposed on the birds making them disturbed and uncomfortable.
- Stress reduces production and brings about poor performance.
- Vices are habits developed by animals.
- These affect production and health of the birds.
- Usually they are bad habits.
Cause of Stress in Poultry
- Sudden changes in routine management.
- Presence of strangers in the poultry house.
- Presence of animals and vermins.
- Too much noise.
- Constant and poor handling.
- Sudden weather changes.
- Disturbance of the pecking order.
- Poor hygiene.
- Disease and pest attack.
- Lack of food and water.
Control of Stress
- Poultry house should be kept quiet and constructed away from noise.
- Poultry house should be insulated to maintain constant temperatures.
- Parasites and diseases should be controlled.
- Change in routine management should be gradual.
- Enough feed and water should be provided.
- Feather pecking.
- Cannibalism (toe and vent pecking).
- Egg eating.
Pecking and Cannibalism
- Situation where birds peck at each other resulting in death or injury.
- Feather and body growth rate IS reduce
- Loss of birds due to death may result from cannibalism.
- Culling rate is increased (economic loss).
- The appearance of the carcass is spoiled thereby reducing its market value.
Causes of Cannibalism
- Overcrowding in the house.
- High temperatures in the poultry house making the birds uncomfortable.
- Too bright light.
- External parasite infestation.
- Inadequate and incorrect feeding.
- Idleness of the birds.
- Greediness of the birds.
- Disturbances of the pecking order.
- Prolapses of the rectum which occurs once in a while.
- Bright light in the lying boxes.
- Ample spacing should be provided on the floor, feeders, waterers and laying boxes.
- Overheating should be avoided during brooding.
- The house should be dimly lit for the layers.
- Laying nests should be darkened and above the groun
- Dusting should be done to control external parasites.
- Provide enough balanced ration.
- Birds should be kept busy.
- New/strange birds should not be allowed in the house.
A vice influenced by the following:
- Presence of broken or soft shelled eggs.
- Idleness of the birds.
- Inadequate laying nests.
- Mineral deficiencies.
- Bright light in the laying nests.
- Greediness of the birds.
- Eggs should be collected regularly.
- Laying boxes raised above the ground.
- Birds should be given balanced ration.
- Debeaking should be done as need be.
- Birds should be kept busy with greens.
- Birds should be kept according to age groups.
- Injured birds should be isolated and treated.
Marketing of Poultry Products
- Poultry products include eggs and meat.
Marketing of Eggs
- Eggs are delicate and perishable foods and have the highest value when fresh.
The factors considered when sorting out and grading eggs for the market include:
- Size/weight of the egg – large eggs fetch high prices than small ones. The average weight should be about 57gms.
- Shape of the egg – The normal egg shape is oval, with a broad end and a narrow end.
- Cleanliness – Consumers prefer clean eggs.
- Colour of the shell – Brown eggs are popular with the consumers.
- Candling qualities – candling is done to determine freshness of the eggs and presence of any other egg abnormalities.
- Shell texture – should be smooth and without cracks.
- Broilers are slaughtered at the age of 1-2.5months old with a life weight of 1.5-2kgs.
- The birds are killed and dressed in a clean way before being wrapped in clean bags ready for sale.
- The meat is sold in hotels and restaurants.
- Whole birds can be sold live in local markets.