This post discusses how to start broiler farming with success. There is a link to a Broiler Farming eBook below. Broiler Farming is a profitable agribusiness enterprise. The word ‘Broiler’ originates from the word ‘Broil” which means to cook by exposure to direct heat; to cook over hot grill or coals; to heat directly. Broiler is a name given to meat cooked by broiling. This kind of meat is usually tender, succulent, and juicy; an instance is chicken barbecue.
Broiler is another name given to a poultry specie that provides meat that is suitable for broiling. Bird in this category has a rapid growth rate and they attain marketable or consumable size within a short period, in fact, 6-8 weeks for broiler chickens. Turkeys and ducks raised for meat and consumed at an early age are known as broilers or alternatively called turkey boiler and duck broiler. Broiler chickens are different from cockerels which are also meat birds but do not reach considerable market size in 8-10 weeks. Thus, broiler chickens are chickens genetically constituted to grow faster than cockerels and pullets.
A fryer is a bird found suitable for cooking by frying. A fryer is usually a bigger-sized bird than broiler. Examples are cockerel, cock, or an old broiler. Another bird bigger in size than fryers and they are processed by roasting in the oven is known as Roasters. An example is an older broiler or well grown matured rooster or cock.
Broiler Production Programmes
There are two broiler production programmes which can be used for raising broilers. These are;
- Occasional production programme; for special events such as Christmas, Easter, and Salah festivals or some other demands like weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, thanksgiving, etc.
- Regular production programmes; which are; All-in, all-out system; and Multiple production system.
Before you start raising broilers either for commercial purpose or personal consumption, there are some management practices that you must know. These are housing, feed and feeding, water consumption, brooding, and vaccination.
Housing Management in Broiler Farming
It is ideal to fence a broiler farm or unit to reduce human traffic which will reduce the incidence of disease outbreak and bird theft. These birds are most commonly raised on deep-litter in conventional poultry houses and sometimes in backyard poultry houses. They can also be raised in metal or wooden cages too. The length of the house for rearing can be a manageable dimension but the width should be a maximum of 11 metres for sufficient natural ventilation.
An average floor space of 0.1 m2 is good. Reducing the floor space thereby increasing the population per unit space results in overcrowding, increased mortality, cannibalism, reduced feed efficiency, uneven growth, and increase breast blister incidence. The more the floor space provided per bird, the more the average mature body weight.
Floor space has an effect on the mature body weight of broilers. Check the table below:
|Floor space (m2/bird)||Mature body weight of bird (kg)|
For large-scale commercial broiler production, the broiler population in a house can be as high as 10,000-50,000. The maximum recommended population per pen when using deep-litter is 2,500 for ease of management. Broilers can be raised in cages (battery cage system) as well as on the floor (deep-litter system). When raised in cages, more birds are raised per unit space.
Broiler farmers have used various lighting programmes for broiler production ranging from lack of supplementary lighting to all-night lighting with one hour of darkness in environmentally controlled poultry houses. The reason for the one hour of light per day is to accustom the birds to some darkness in the event of accidental darkness in such an event, the birds will not be frightened and stampede with a consequent injury. The light provided to the broiler should not be too bright to reduce bird activity. It should just be bright enough for the birds to find their feed and water. For conventional housing, supplementary light may not be provided at night. Research has found that there is no significant advantage in providing supplementary light at night.
Feeds and Feeding in Broiler Farming
Broilers can feed on the same diet from day-old to market age if the diet is adequate in protein and energy. Nutritional requirements of broilers vary with age, hence two different diets are commonly given to broilers.
- Broiler starter diet. This diet usually contains 23-24% protein and 3190 kcal/kg energy. This is fed for the first 3-4 weeks. Thereafter, the broiler chicks have commensurate additional growth response.
- Broiler finisher diet. This diet usually contains 20-21% protein and 3300 kcal/kg energy. This is fed after 3-4 weeks until the birds reach the market weight between 8-10 weeks.
Some broiler farmers feed the pre-starter diet, which contains more protein and antibiotics for a better start for the first 2 weeks. Where such is fed, three diets are therefore used and the normal starter diet is re-designated grower diet. Broilers are commonly given mash but crumbles and pellets are acceptable to them. They should be fed and watered ad libitum. Feeders should be constantly raised to the level of the back of the broilers also to prevent feed wastage.
A broiler will consume approximately 1.25 kg of broiler starter mash in 4 weeks. Between 4-10 weeks it will consume about 3.75-4.75 kg of finisher mash. The average feed conversion rate is 2:1 i.e. 2 kg of feed per 1 kg body weight gain. In many flocks, feed conversion is above 2. Feed conversion ratio usually increases with the age of birds. Many producers market their broilers at 8 weeks because it has been shown that after 8 weeks, the rate of body weight gain starts declining while feed conversion continues to increase. The table below shows a good feed formula of a good and cost-effective broiler starter and broiler finisher feed.
Water Consumption in Broiler Farming
Water is very important to broiler chickens. When deprived of water, they die. A simple way of estimating the volume of water required by broilers is to multiply the age of broiler in weeks by 2. The answer gives the estimated litre of water needed by 100 broilers daily that week. For instance, at 7 weeks of age, 100 broilers will drink 7 x 2= 14 litres of water daily. Water consumption increases during the hot weather.
FAQs on Broilers and Broiler Farming
These are some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on broilers and broiler farming/production. The list would be updated as I receive more questions. Feel free to ask your questions if not answered using the comment box at the end of this post.
- What are Broilers?
Broiler chickens are domesticated birds raised or kept primarily for meat production. However, some farmers raise them for egg production, but that is very uncommon.
- What are the breeds of broiler chickens?
Just like other farm animals, broilers have different breeds. The breeds of broilers include Cornish, Labe Rouge (or Red Broilers), Delaware and their crosses.
- Do broilers lay eggs like layers?
Yes, they lay eggs. However, the egg-laying performance of broilers is lower than that of layers.
- How long does it take a broiler to reach market weight?
A broiler can reach maturity as early as 6 weeks. Though, this is a factor of feeding, management, and pedigree.
- What is the average weight of a mature broiler?
A mature broiler should have an average weight of 2.5 kg at the 8th week of age
- How many days should day-old broiler chicks be brooded?
This depends on the current season or weather. However, brooding broilers should not exceed two weeks. After 2 weeks, withdraw any source of heat or warmth and you may remove the polyethylene material used in covering the openings. The principle is whenever the young chicks have developed enough feathers to cover their body, it is unnecessary to supply additional heat again. Read more about brooding broiler chicks
- What are the feeds to give my broilers from day old?
Normally, feed your birds with Broiler Starter diet for the first four weeks and Broiler Finisher diet for after 4 weeks until they are sold or slaughtered. You can also stop the broiler starter after the 3rd week. See a sample broiler feed formulation here
- What vaccines and drugs should I give my broilers?
See the vaccination schedule of broilers here
- Can I give my broilers growers mash?
Of course, giving them growers mash will not harm them. You can feed them with growers mash, but there would be a great difference if you follow the normal feeding regime and schedule which is broiler starter for 4 weeks and broiler finisher mash after.
- How can I make my broiler grow bigger or heavier?
Please read this post on how to make broilers grow bigger
- Can I use a synthetic growth booster for broilers?
If you are able to get a good broiler growth enhancer or booster, you can use it with caution. But I don’t advise the use of growth booster drugs as research has found that meat products from such as not really good for human health.
- Would broilers perform better in battery cages?
Either you raise your broilers on the battery cage or the deep litter system relies totally on you. However, a deep-litter system is recommended to save costs.
- Which is better between readymade feeds and self-formulated feeds?
Whichever you choose is a determinant of your financial capability or budget. Readymade feeds have been found to be more expensive and less effective than self-formulated feeds. However, the quality of feed ingredients and formulation are great factors to consider when deciding.
- What quantity of feed would a broiler consume from a day old to maturity? How many bags of feed for 100 broilers?
A broiler would consume an average of 4.25 kg from day old to end of the 8th week. So, 100 broilers would consume (4.25 X 100) = 425 kg or 17 bags of feed for 8 weeks.
- How much would it cost to feed 100 broilers to maturity?
It would cost you roughly #83,640 to feed 100 broilers in Nigeria
- Can broilers thrive on free-range like local chickens?
Yes, broilers can survive on a free-range system but the growth performance would be far lower than when they are confined and fed with concentrates.
- Where can I buy broiler chicks?
You can get broiler chicks from reputable hatcheries near you. if you’re in Nigeria and you need broiler chicks, kindly contact me.
- My Broilers are passing out blood-stained faeces, what is happening and what should I do?
This is a sign that your flock has been infected with coccidiosis. You need to remove the litter in the pen and change it with new dry wood shavings. Go to a veterinary drug store and get Prococ WDP or any recommended anti-coccidial drug. Always avoid pouring water on the litter or avoid keeping wet litters.
- Can I deworm broilers? If yes, when and any detrimental effect on their performance?
Yes, you can and should deworm broilers. Deworm broilers every 4 weeks. No significant detrimental effect on broilers but don’t over-deworm.
- Could you recommend a good broiler diet formula for better growth performance?
Please read this post regarding the broiler diet for better growth performance.
If you have questions on broiler farming that have not been answered, please ask them as comments and I would update this post.