Poultry Farming 101

Poultry farming 101

 Small-scale poultry production is an obvious and well-documented opportunity for poor farmers to start an income generating activity. Poultry are cheap, easy to rear, and easy to manage. Consequently, there has been and there is a growing attention and interest in poultry production in villages as well as in peri-urban and urban areas throughout the developing world. However, existing manuals and books either give advice on industrial production systems using improved (imported) breeds under highly controlled conditions, or very simple field guides giving little useful advice on how to rear poultry with profit in mind at village level. This manual is based on existing knowledge on how to improve village poultry production systems with relatively few inputs. This manual will exclusively deal with free-range systems consisting of small flocks of indigenous chickens or their crosses and smallholder flocks of improved or hybrid commercial chickens.

Poultry production can be divided into four sectors: 1. industrial and integrated, 2. commercial high biosecurity, 3. commercial low bioseurity, 4. village, and family or backyard poultry. The focus here is largely on sectors 3 and 4 but there may be some overlap.

‘Family poultry’ as defined by the International Network for Family Poultry

Development, covers sectors 3 and 4 which encompass small - scale poultry production.

There are numerous poultry handbooks which cover sectors 2 and 3, but this hand book has attempted, in two manuals, to cover mainly sector 3 while not ignoring the great importance of biosecurity particularly in the face of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1). It is envisaged that, given time, some producers, now in sector 3 may move into sector 2. The two manuals are pitched at two different levels. The

Trainer’s (instructor) manual assumes that the trainer has qualifications and/or experience in a branch of agricultural science but not necessarily in poultry production. Some of the material included is beyond that necessary to give an initial course in poultry production but may be useful as the farmer progresses from sector 3 to sector 2. The trainee’s manual has numerous illustrations and is aimed at a lower level than for the trainer. The farmer may be interested in starting a poultry enterprise or is already producing poultry in a small - scale commercial or semi-commercial (opportunistic) situation but would like to make poultry farming more permanent. The course will allow the farmer to increase his/her knowledge and skills and to become aware of a number of important issues (e.g. managing the environment, disease surveillance) of his/her enterprise.

In order to minimise repetition, there is some material in the trainee’s manual that is not in the trainer’s manual. Trainers should familiarise themselves thoroughly with both manuals.

The third manual is for the millions of families, worldwide, in low – income, developing countries who keep backyard poultry, mainly unmanaged, with few inputs, but nevertheless are of great importance by providing, some security, income and high – quality protein. It is hoped that this manual will make families aware of the possibility of improving output with a minimum of input.

Much of the information has been taken from a range of sources as well as the author’s own experience of working in several developing countries over 25 years.

Ideally, there should be a small-scale demonstration unit or a poultry farm available so that the trainees can see, first hand, and better understand the main points in these manuals and observe how commercial poultry production should be practiced.

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