Chicken farming is a lucrative, much needed business farmed all over the world and produces the highest meat supply and consumption in Africa. Millions of jobs are created worldwide by chicken farms, chicken processing factories like abattoirs and cold meat factories and delivering companies. Download your Free Guide to Chicken Farming South Africa – Free eBook on the bottom of this page.
- What is a Broiler Chicken
- Do Market Research before you start Farming
- How to start Farming with Broilers
- Bedding for Broilers Chicks
- Water and Feeding
- Taking Care of your Broilers and Coop
- Deceases and Treatment for your Broilers
- How and Where to Sell your Broilers for a Profit
- How to get Funding for a Broiler Business
A broiler is any chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) that is bred and raised specifically for meat production. Most commercial broilers reach slaughter weight between four and seven weeks of age. In South Africa the Ross Broiler is the most common meat chicken to farm with due to it’s fast growth and environmental compatibility.
Ross Broilers can be used for both Free Range and Intensive Farming. Typical Broilers has white feathers and a yellowish skin.
Do Market Research before you Start Farming
Chicken farming looks brilliant on paper and loads of profit can be made, but in reality you need to build your business around your own experiences both from farming and selling. This is a step that no one can teach you but we can advise some procedures to follow that will help you succeed as a chicken farmer in South Africa or anywhere else in Africa.
Chickens Farming is essential to our economic growth not only for meat and egg production, but also provide employment to millions of people all over. It is not hard to sell chickens, but you need to know exactly how many you will want to farm with, so make sure that your clients are lined-up before you start farming.
Do Market Research to the best of your ability. See potential clients like neighbours, butcheries, shops, restaurants and supermarkets and ask them to support your business and determine what they will order on a weekly basis once your production is up and running. This will give you a good indication of how many chickens you should start with and also ease of mind knowing that you have customers you can supply. It is almost impossible for starter farmers to calculate revenue from walk-in clients but you will have a good indication after two months and can start growing your business accordingly.
You should start advertising at least two weeks before your chickens are ready to be slaughtered or sold on local forums, social groups and online to ensure that you reach enough clients by the time that you want to sell. Chickens that are not sold in time needs extra feed and that will be crucial to your business.
How to start Farming with Broilers
- Get the right Supplier
- Build your coop according your market research and provide room for growth.
- Wind and Ventilation
- Keep your Chickens safe from Wild animals
- Applying Bedding for Day old chicks to fully grown chickens
- Water and Feeding systems
Day old Broiler Chicks can grow from 1 day to 2.8 kg in just 42 days or 6 weeks. This means that you will constantly be buying day old chicks to keep your cycle going. To get started you need to find yourselves a reliable Supplier of broiler day old chicks. There are many ways to go about this but make sure that you find a reliable well established hatchery that can supply you all year round. Fortunately every province in South Africa has a couple of creditable hatcheries that will sell day old broiler chicks to beginner or startup farmers. You can find hatcheries online and on chicken farming groups on social media. Do some homework on the suppliers and check online for some reviews. You need to build a positive relationship with your suppliers as they will be there for you as your business grow.
Hatcheries need to vaccinate day old chicks and are not allowed to sell you chicks that has not been treated. It is your right as a buyer to ask your supplier if the day old chicks was vaccinated. In most cases a day old chick that has been vaccinated will have a pinkish colour over their bodies.
Get your Coops ready before buying your day old chicks
You can decide beforehand with how many chickens you want to farm with. Build your coops according the numbers that you have research and get everything in place. As a norm you can farm with 150 chickens in a 3 meter x 3 meter coop.
Wind and Ventilation
Make sure that when you build your structure that there is enough ventilation and build your coop so that doors are facing away from the North West and South East winds. This is a crucial step to take as windy days can blow sawdust, wood shavings and feed all over the place and not only have a disturbing effect on your day old chicks but can also cause you to lose money on fatalities and feed lost.
Keep your Chicks safe from Predators
Day old chicks need to be safe from wild animals, dogs, cats and rats. Make sure that when you are constructing your chicken coops that you keep this in mind and do your best to keep out unwanted guests. The Muskeljaatkat (also known as a Spotted Genet) can cause serious damage in just one night. They do not eat your day old chick or chickens but kill them by biting of their heads and sucking the blood.
Bedding for day old to adult chickens
Unlike layers you can use sawdust or wood shavings for broiler chickens. Before you start placing your bedding you need to sterilize the coop. You can do this by spraying the roof, walls and floor with Virukill that can be purchased from your local vet. Let the coop rest for a minimum of two days. Check your coop for any wholes in the walls and any areas that will allow your chicks to escape and unwanted predators to enter.
It is important that you do not use hay or straw-bales as bedding in your coop. Straw-bales does not absorb the poop and the coop will become messy and can obtain fungus and bacteria that can be hazardous to day old and older chickens.
You can obtain untreated sawdust and wood shavings from your local sawmill and usually it is not expensive. Sawdust or wood shavings should be at least 100 mm thick in the beginning. Make sue you spread it out evenly so that you feeding and watering containers would be level on the surface if you are not using a hanging method.
You should not remove your bedding until the six week cycle is completed. In about 6 to 7 days time you can top up your bedding and thereafter once to twice a week as required.
Water and feeding systems
Day old chicks does not use a lot water the first week, however you should clean their water drinkers on a daily basis if you are not working with a hanging water system. As they grow older their need for water consumption increases daily and you should consider a gravity fed water system to maintain a fresh water supply all the time Make sure that you have enough watering systems so that you minimize traffic in and out of your coop.
Broiler chicks will use a starter feed for the first 14 days that you can buy at various Agri-Stores. Do not try and portion their food or feed them once a day. There after you can give them grower and finisher on the last stage. You can use a free feeding calculator on our website www.farmingsouthafrica.co.za
The ideal way to feed chickens is by using the hanging feeding method but if it is hard for you to find that specific system you can use feeders that you buy at your local Agri-Store. Make sure that you raise them from the ground but not higher than what the chicks can reach.
Did you Know? Chickens that eat of hanging feeders and need to reach for feed grow taller than Chickens that eat of the ground or low hanging feeders.
Taking Care of your Broilers and Coop
Fortunately farming with Broilers is a very low maintenance operation but you need to make sure that you keep your coop clean at all times. Pest’s and rodents are attracted to messy places and waste. The procedure you need to follow is:
- Top up feeding and watering systems
- Clean around your feeding area on a daily basis
- Make sure that your water does not overflow and create a wet soggy area – This can introduce foot deceases.
- Adjust your watering system and feeders regularly to ensure that the reach is perfect for the chickens
- Rotate you Bio-Security foot-cleaning system.
- Check temperature daily to ensure that the chickens is not too cold or too hot
- Check ventilation – If your coop becomes sweaty and smelly you need to apply more ventilation.
- Daily spot-check for diseases and sick chickens
Bio – Security for Chicken Farmers
What does Bio – Security mean? Biosecurity, as originally conceptualized, was a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in crops and livestock, quarantined pests, invasive alien species, and living modified organisms.
Having Bio-Security in place is a win win for both your business and customers. Containing diseases and the prevention of virus spread should be considered as important as your farming business. If not done correctly you can loose your flock in days and many won’t recover from disasters such as the New Castle Disease.
What steps should I take?
- Keep unwanted visitors out of your coops
- Spray vehicles down with Virukill before they enter your property
- Have water traps or water buckets at the entrance of your coops so visitors and helpers can clean their boots before entering the coop
- Clean and Spray coops with Virukill after every cycle and rest the coop for at least 2 to 4 days before placing new day-old chicks
- Workers should sanitize before entering the coop
- Workers with Flu should not work in the chicken coop
Deceases and Treatment for your Broilers
Download a Free Chicken Farming eBook
11 Most Common Chicken Diseases and Treatments
- Fowl Pox
- Marek’s Disease
- Mushy Chick
- Pullorum (White Diarrhea)
- Newcastle Disease
- Infectious Coryza
- Infectious Bronchitis
- Fowl Cholera
- Air Sac Disease
To read more about Deceases and Treatment click here
How and Where to Sell your Broilers for a Profit
You have raised your chickens and now they are ready to be sold but where an how? In this paragraph, we will cover the topic: 4 Best Ways to Sell Chickens that you raised
- Local Township
- Shops and Butcheries
- Sell from your Farm
Read how to sell your chickens fast in South Africa – Click here
Applying for Funds to start a Chicken Farming Business
To apply for a grant of funds you need to have a business plan.
To see a template or if you need advise on a business plan visit: businesplan.co.za
To apply for a Small Business Development Grant Visit: gov.za
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Download a Free Chicken Farming eBook