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Feeding & Housing

 

Poultry Feeding Tips

Buying premixed rations will ensure birds get a balanced diet.

Feeding is one of the greatest expenses of most poultry farmers, sometimes accounting for more than 50% of production costs. There are however a few tricks to save costs and make the most of what you have:

 

Pool Resources

 

Farmers may pull resources to reduce feeding costs.

 

Buying small volumes of feed through a middleman drives up costs. To overcome this problem, Dr Charlotte Nkuna of the South African Poultry Association suggested in a Farmer’s Weekly article that farmers pull resources and buy inputs, such as chicks, feed, vaccines and bedding, in bulk directly from suppliers, such as feed mills or hatcheries.
This might not always be practical when farmers are located far apart, but farmers should talk to one another and together try to come up with creative solutions to these challenges.

 

 

Avoid Poor Quality Feed

 

When buying feed, ensure you buy it from a reputable source. The problem with substandard feed is that it might result in nutritional deficiencies that can lead to poor production, growth and render birds more vulnerable to diseases. Stale food may also lead to certain diseases.
Ideally the feed should be of a good quality that is targeted to the needs of your animals. Feed for broilers, for example, should have a higher energy and protein content than feed for layers, since broilers are required to gain weight faster than layers.

 


So what is good quality food?

o    The feed should be free from toxins and harmful substances.

o    It should be fresh and mould free. It should not smell bad or off and it should look fresh.

o    It should be developed from good quality ingredients.

o    Products should be uniform and not vary from one batch to another.

o    There should be a batch number, date of manufacturing and contacts to allow easy traceability when something goes wrong.

 

 

 

Correct Storage

 

Feed should preferably be kept off the ground.

 

Proper storage helps to protect the quality of feed. As feed gets older, it loses its nutritional value which means that more feed is required to maintain bird performance than when good quality feed is used. Poor quality feed also increases disease risks.



Poultry World has the following storage tips:

o    Feed has to be kept dry, cool, out of direct sunlight and in a well ventilated space.

o    It should be protect from vermin and other insect pests, not only to prevent feed losses, but also because these pests can contaminate the feed.

o    Feed should preferably be kept off the ground, to prevent ground condensation

o    It should be stored away from chemicals and drugs.

o    If kept in bins, the bins should be properly cleaned before new feed is added to it.

o    Storage areas should be kept clean.

 

 

 

Make Your Own

 

Food scraps may reduce feeding costs.

 

If you have access to good quality ingredients, such a maize, soya, fishmeal, maize bran and sunflower, you may produce your own feed. Ask an extension officer or animal nutritionist to help you formulate a balanced ration that addresses the nutritional demands of your birds at different stages of production.

 

In an article on the Poultrysite.com, Jan Grobbelaar of Dumela Poultry Solutions have the following tips for farmers who cannot afford to buy feed. Firstly, they can produce their own fly larvae to feed the birds. This can be done by placing rotten food scraps, such as cabbage, in a bucket that is suspended on a pole.

 

The food scraps will attract flies, which will lay their eggs in it. Holes should be made at the bottom of the bucket, so the larvae, which will move to the bottom of the bucket will fall through the holes. Another bucket can be placed below the larvae producing bucket to catch the larvae.


A second native is to harvest termites. For sustainable production, Grobbelaar teaches farmers to remove only part of the termite nest by making a hole in it. The hole is then covered up with dry grass to accelerate the restoration of the nest. It takes nine months before a nest can be harvested again.


Another native is to supply mouldy maize that is not fit for human consumption to birds. Although this present a disease risk, the risk is lower for scavenging chicken as they are much hardier than modern commercial birds and able also able to stomach certain foods better.

 

By Glenneis Kriel

 

Poultry Housing Tips

Housing should be away from property lines, houses and streets.

 

Before starting a poultry operation, consider the municipal by-laws on animal production in your region. These by-laws differ from one municipality to another and regulates the number of birds and conditions under which birds may be kept.


There would, for example, be regulations concerning the distance birds should be kept from property lines, houses and streets and the way in which waste and sick animals should be treated.


Merely having access to farmland does not automatically allow you to produce poultry. If there has never been a commercial poultry operation on the farm, an environmental impact study might be needed to assess how production would affect the environment.


There might also be certain rules that should be adhered to, for example, production facilities should be a certain distance from fruit pack houses and pig farms.

 

 

 

Physical Requirements

 

The housing can take the form of a permanent or mobile structure.

 

The housing can take the form of a permanent or mobile structure. Flock health and welfare should be the primary focus when designing or building a structure.


Ideally, it should keep predators out, protect birds against the elements, add to bird comfort, be easy to clean and ease production management. It should also be neat-looking and well-kept to avoid conflict with neighbours.


Careful planning and design is needed when setting up a permanent structure to take advantage of natural environmental conditions. For an even distribution of heat, for example, it might make sense to construct the building so the longer sides face north and south, while the shorter sides face east and west. The building should also preferably be built on a slope to avoid drainage problems.


For both mobile and permanent structures, it is important to ensure adequate ventilation. In naturally ventilated structures, which are significantly cheaper than closed systems, there should be windows with curtains that can open and close to help manage temperatures within the structure. The windows can be covered with mesh to keep wild birds out that may be carrying diseases.

 

 

Size Matters

 

A stocking density of no more than 15 adult broilers per square meter is allowed in a free range or barn system.

 

The size of the house should also be considered. Not using space optimally will chase up production costs, so it is better to start small and build additional houses as production increases.


According to the South African Poultry Association’s abridged code of practice, layers older than eighteen weeks in a cage system should each have access to at least 450 cm² of space, whereas no more than 10 layers are allowed per square meter in a free range layer or barn system.


With broiler production, the bird density is not allowed to exceed 40 kg per square meter in a floor system, while birds older than 4 weeks in a cage system should have access to at least 450 cm per bird.
A stocking density of no more than 15 adult broilers per square meter is allowed in a free range or barn system. The height of cages and housing structures should allow free head movement of standing chicken
.


With mobile systems it is important to move the structures to prevent overgrazing and give grazed areas enough time to recover before the structure is returned to the same spot.

 

 

Housing should be away from property lines, houses and streets.

 

Before starting a poultry operation, consider the municipal by-laws on animal production in your region. These by-laws differ from one municipality to another and regulates the number of birds and conditions under which birds may be kept.


There would, for example, be regulations concerning the distance birds should be kept from property lines, houses and streets and the way in which waste and sick animals should be treated.


Merely having access to farmland does not automatically allow you to produce poultry. If there has never been a commercial poultry operation on the farm, an environmental impact study might be needed to assess how production would affect the environment.


There might also be certain rules that should be adhered to, for example, production facilities should be a certain distance from fruit pack houses and pig farms.

 

 

 

Physical Requirements

 

The housing can take the form of a permanent or mobile structure.

 

The housing can take the form of a permanent or mobile structure. Flock health and welfare should be the primary focus when designing or building a structure.


Ideally, it should keep predators out, protect birds against the elements, add to bird comfort, be easy to clean and ease production management. It should also be neat-looking and well-kept to avoid conflict with neighbours.


Careful planning and design is needed when setting up a permanent structure to take advantage of natural environmental conditions. For an even distribution of heat, for example, it might make sense to construct the building so the longer sides face north and south, while the shorter sides face east and west. The building should also preferably be built on a slope to avoid drainage problems.


For both mobile and permanent structures, it is important to ensure adequate ventilation. In naturally ventilated structures, which are significantly cheaper than closed systems, there should be windows with curtains that can open and close to help manage temperatures within the structure. The windows can be covered with mesh to keep wild birds out that may be carrying diseases.

 

 

Size Matters

 

A stocking density of no more than 15 adult broilers per square meter is allowed in a free range or barn system.

 

The size of the house should also be considered. Not using space optimally will chase up production costs, so it is better to start small and build additional houses as production increases.


According to the South African Poultry Association’s abridged code of practice, layers older than eighteen weeks in a cage system should each have access to at least 450 cm² of space, whereas no more than 10 layers are allowed per square meter in a free range layer or barn system.


With broiler production, the bird density is not allowed to exceed 40 kg per square meter in a floor system, while birds older than 4 weeks in a cage system should have access to at least 450 cm per bird.
A stocking density of no more than 15 adult broilers per square meter is allowed in a free range or barn system. The height of cages and housing structures should allow free head movement of standing chicken.


With mobile systems it is important to move the structures to prevent overgrazing and give grazed areas enough time to recover before the structure is returned to the same spot.

 

By Glenneis Kriel

 

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