- Parent Category: Poultry Housing
- Published on 24 February 2012
There are 3 types of chicken farming, 4 if you count the farmers who concentrate on breeding parent stock and grandparent stock. For the most part commercial chicken farmers will concentrate on one of the following 3 types of poultry farming. All of these types of production can be free range farming, organic farming or intensive poultry farming.
Broiler chicken production
This is the growing of chickens for their meat. The cycle or time to grow a chicken from a day old chick to a sell-able weight is 4 - 6 weeks. Free range chickens will be kept in a chicken house that is the same as intensive farming - but will be allowed to forage outside. In intensive chicken farming the birds are kept inside the poultry house and usually about 15 chicken per square meter.
Layer chickens for egg production
Hens are generally purchased at the age of 18 weeks and are kept for about 60 weeks - in this time a hen will lay, on average 0.8 eggs a day. In intensive egg production the hens will be kept in layer cages or battery cages. In free range egg farming or organic egg farming the hens will live in a chicken house but have access to open space and be allowed to forage naturally.
Breeder farms will have a chicken house that has both cocks and hens. The eggs will be collected everyday and taken to a hatchery. The prime focus of such a farm is to produce day old chickens to supply the broiler industry and farmers whop will grow hens to 18 weeks for egg production.
In all 3 types of poultry farming the basic farming principles remain the same - The chickens will need heat, cooling, medication, food and water. The breed of chicken is not important - all chickens need these basics. Whether it is a chicken house holding 35 000 chickens or a small poultry house for 100 birds the farmer will follow the same rules. In large houses disease can spread very quickly - and the losses, obviously, much higher.
Smaller farmers will feed their chickens by hand - either using tube feeders or scattering the feed by hand. layer farmers will use a pan feeding system or a chain feeding system. These feeding systems are fully automated and make the task of giving chickens food very easy. All the food for automatic feeding systems will come from a silo.
Water for Chickens
Small chicken farmers will use either bell drinkers or fonts to give the chicken water. Large farmers will use a nipple drinking system. Impex nipples are preferred by many farmers.
Heating a poultry house
There are a number of methods for heating a chicken house - while layers will not need heating in warm climates, day old broilers will definitely need heat. Gas heaters are the first choice for many poultry farmers. (Gasolec makes a fantastic heater). Other methods are electric brooders which use infrared lamps and heatcos, which run on coal.
Cooling a poultry house
Large house will have cooling fans and curtains - smaller farmers will also use fans, but smaller. The most effective way to cool a chicken house is by using a winched curtain system. The curtains run along both lengths of the chicken house and can be raised or lowered depending on the need.Closed environment houses do not use curtains but large fans and water - similar to air conditioning.
Most small chicken farmers will have a steel structure specifically designed for chickens - a layer house will have layer cages for egg production and curtains that drop all the way to the floor. Broiler chicken farmers will raise their birds on the floor which is covered with shavings. No matter what type of farming you plan to practise you will need to inoculate and medicate your chickens - Organic chicken farmers are limited in what medication they can give to their chickens.
Lighting a poultry house
Lights are extremely important on any chicken farms - whether it is eggs, broilers or breeders. Lights, if used correctly, will help with production and weight gain and loss. It will help the layers to lay more and the broilers to eat more. Many small poultry farmers ignore this aspect, but for a relatively small outlay of money the increase in production is substantial. Free range and organic chicken farming are limited by the regulations and may not use lights as effectively as intensive chicken farmers.
As with any business - the larger your production the more ways you look to save time. Some other systems that help farmers are things like mono rails which is a gantry that carries things like feed, egg trays and medication. Large egg farms will have an automatic egg sorting machine - a very clever and expensive piece of machinery that sorts and cleans the eggs into weights - and then packs them in egg boxes. Computers play a large part in large chicken farms - regulating feed, temperature, water and humidity. There are also machines for de-beaking chickens (used in intensive farming to stop the birds hurting each other), machines for the slaughtering of chickens and cutting and packing the meat in portions. Batch weighers are used to measure exact feed portions for poultry houses
Whatever size farmer you are you would do well to find out about all the bits and pieces. Knowing how others do it can be the difference between staying in business and going out of business. Dont try and reinvent the wheel - just copy your opposition and improve on his methods.