Dani Oh, here dear reader and of course you and I know that backyard poultry production is an age-old practice in most rural areas in the world.
Most of the backyard poultry production comprises the rearing of indigenous birds with poor production performances.
The potentiality of indigenous birds in terms of egg production is only 70 to 80 eggs/ bird/ year and meat production is also very less.
However, the backyard poultry production can be easily boosted up with improved varieties of chicken and can promise a better production of meat and egg.
To improve the socio-economic status of the traditional farmers, backyard poultry is a handy enterprise with a low-cost initial investment, but high economic return along with a guarantee for improving protein deficiency among the poor.
Why Go For Backyard Poultry Farming?
1. Low initial investment but higher economic return.
2. A unit can be started with as low as two chickens to a large flock.
3. Feed cost is negligible due to better utilization of agricultural by-products and leftover feed and grains.
4. Egg and birds can be sold in the local market at a high price because there is a growing demand for local chicken.
5. And the consumers are willing to pay higher prices for high-quality desi chicken meat or egg.
6. Boost up in family income for better utilization of family labourers who are not able to perform other agricultural works like old family members or children.
7. Backyard poultry farming acts as an ‘ATM’, because as per family need the birds and eggs can be sold at any time anywhere with cash in hand.
8. Quality of chicken and egg is better in terms of organic farming as the birds are raised in a stress-less environment with natural input.
Improved Strain Of Poultry Birds For Backyard Farming
Desi or indigenous birds are generally poor performers in egg and meat production.
To obtain maximum profit from backyard poultry farming there is an urgent need in the country to improve the status of backyard poultry farming with an improved strain of poultry birds, who perform an excellent result when raised in the backyard with low inputs.
Improved chicken that can be introduced in backyard poultry farming should have the following characters-
1. Adaptability in village condition
3. Good brooding capacity
4. Mothering ability
5. Well body conformation
6. Hardy in nature
7. Good scavengers
8. Attractive and coloured plumage
9. Escaping capacity from predators
10. Disease resistance
Housing Management For Backyard Poultry Farming
No elaborate housing is required for backyard poultry farming but, it should protect the birds from the sun, rain, and predators.
If a free-range system is practiced the birds are let loose in day time for foraging and at night sheltered in a shed.
For better production performances certain criteria that can be considered are –
1. The poultry house should be in east-west orientation to protect from summer wind and cold stress and also for direct sunlight in winter months.
2. During summer direct sunlight should be avoided to reduce the summer stress in birds.
3. Low-cost housing materials like wood, bamboo, grass, thatch, etc can be utilized.
4. The poultry house should be free from water seepage or moisture.
5. The floor should be in elevated land or above ground level (minimum 2ft) and free from water crack, easily cleaned, rat-proof, and durable.
6. There should be free air movement in the upper part of the shed to reduce gas formation inside the shed.
7. The height of the sidewall in the poultry house is generally 7 ft to 8 ft. The center height is 9 ft to 12 ft with a slope on either side.
8. Roofing material like thatch, tiles, asbestos, etc can be used.
9. Brooder houses should have easy ventilation and wire netting which is used for open-air ventilation.
10. Provision of bulb fitted above the ground as hoover may be utilized to keep the chicks warm.
Brooding Of Chicks
There are two types of brooding viz.
Natural brooding and Artificial brooding that can be adopted for backyard poultry farming.
If natural brooding is practiced the local broody hen is used as the indigenous hens are very good sitters. An improved variety of fertile eggs is put into incubation.
The hen is provided with nesting materials. Food and water supply is given throughout the incubation period.
A broody hen can easily take care of brooding and hatching of 12 to 15 chicks.
After hatching the chicks are let loose along with mother for scavenging.
There should be provision for a separate place inside the shed for young chicks and mother at night.
In the artificial brooding provision of artificial heat is necessary.
Artificial heat can be provided with electricity, gas, kerosene, wood, sawdust, etc.
‘Bukharies’ also can be used as a source of artificial heat.
Wood, charcoal, or sawdust is used in ‘Bhukaries’ and it is an ideal source of artificial heating when there is an acute shortage of electricity, gas, and kerosene.
The optimum temperature is 95⁰ F in the first week and it can be reduced 5⁰F per week up to 6 weeks till 70⁰F.
Two watts/ chick heat is required for up to 6 weeks in the brooder house.
The necessity of light in the brooder houses is to increase feed consumption for maximum growth in a short period and also to prevent stampeding or piling if scared.
Initially (up to 6 weeks) there should be provision for at least continuous light up to 48 hours in brooder house and in growing stage (8 to 18 weeks) light hour is 10 to 12.
But in laying period light should be for 15 to 16 hours.
The provision for extra light may be in the morning or evening or maybe morning and evening both.
To prevent direct contact with heat a chick guard made up of cardboard or metallic guard can be used in the brooder houses.
The height of the chick guard is 15 to 18” is placed in a circular shape at a distance of 3’ away from the hover.
The feed cost alone is 70% of total expenditure in poultry production.
In backyard poultry farming the feed cost is considered to be minimum.
Hence, the birds are let loose for scavenging in the open yard and collect the required protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins, etc from insects, snail, termites, seeds of grasses and weeds, leftover grains, crop residues, and household wastes.
Feed ingredients like broken rice, groundnut straw, wheat, or job’s tear grain, rice bean, etc also can be given to the birds.
During rainy season poultry feed should not be stored more than 1.5 months to avoid fungus growth (Aflatoxicosis).
In backyard poultry farming generally, two times feeding is practiced; once in the morning and another in the evening.
The space requirement for the feeder is 2 to 7 cm at the brooding period, 7 to 10 cm during the growing stage, and 12 to 15 cm/bird at the laying stage.
The water space should be 0.5 to 1.5 cm during brooding, 1.5 to 2.5 during growing, and 2.5 cm during the laying period.
The birds may be supplied with extra concentrate ration @ 30 to 60 gm/ day/ bird for better performance.
The balanced ration may be formulated with an appropriate percentage of maize, rice polish, wheat bran, groundnut cake, fish meal, shell grit, or limestone along with salt, minerals, and vitamins or maybe with locally available ingredients.
The poultry feed should contain at least 20% protein in starter level, 16% in grower, and 18% in laying stage with energy level (ME) 2800 kcal/kg feed in the starter, 2600 kcal/kg at grower and 2650 kcal/kg in layer ration.
Health Care Management
For better health care in backyard poultry farming, the birds should be vaccinated against virus diseases in time. The diseases that mostly affect the birds are Ranikhet disease, Marek’s Disease, Fowl pox, Gumbroo disease, etc.
A regular vaccination schedule may be followed in a poultry farm (Table 1).
Deworming for internal and external parasites also should be done to maintain a healthy flock.
Other diseases that may affect the poultry birds are Coccidiosis, infectious coryza, Salmonellosis, etc.
Table 1. Vaccination Schedule For Poultry Birds
|Sl. No.||Age of birds||Name of Vaccine||Name of Disease||Doses||Route of Vaccination|
|1||Day-old Chicks||HVT MD Vaccine||Marek’s Disease||0.2 ml||S/c or I/m|
|2||4 to 7 days||F-1/ Lasota||Ranikhet Disease||One drop||Eye or nostril|
|3||14 to 18 days||Intermediate plus||Gumboro disease||–||Drinking water|
|4||35 days||F-1/ Lasota||Ranikhet Disease||One drop||Eye and nostril|
|5||6 to 7 weeks||Chicken embryo adopted||Fowl Pox||0.5 ml||Wing stab method|
|6||8 to 10 weeks||Strain killed vaccine||Ranikhet Disease||0.5 ml||S/c or I/m|
Finger Tips Suggestion For Backyard Poultry Farming
1. Disease-free, improved strain, dual-purpose poultry birds may be procured for back yard poultry farming.
2. Periodical vaccination should be done on a regular basis.
3. Clean drinking water and fungus free feed should be supplied to the birds.
4. The poultry shed should be regularly cleaned and free from moisture and humid condition.
5. Overcrowding should be avoided.
6. If possible there should be separate space for the different age groups of birds.
7. The sick birds should be immediately separated/ culled from the healthy flock.
8. Poultry equipment particularly waterer and feeder should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
9. There should be restrictions for outsiders into the poultry shed or farm.
10. The birds should be free from predators and should not be scared by other animals.
11. Before procuring new flocks the shed should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
12. There should be a provision for footbath in front of the poultry shed.
13. During summer and winter months the shed should be protected from hot or cold wind by hanging curtain around the side of the wall or shed. In summer months water sprinkling also can be done.
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Talk To You Soon And Wish You Success
Author: Benefits Of Keeping Chickens