How To Successfully Raise Broiler Chickens

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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.

how to raise broiler chickensBroiler 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 a 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 cock.

Broiler Production Programmes

There are two broiler production programmes which can be used for raising broilers. These are;

  1. Occasional production programme; for special events such as Christmas, Easter, and Salah festivals or some other demands like weddings, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, thanksgiving, etc.
  2. Regular production programmes; which are; All-in, all-out system; and Multiple production system.
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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 an incidence of disease outbreak and birds 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 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 to 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 effect on the mature body weight of broilers

Floor space (m2/bird) Mature body weight of bird (kg)
0.06 1.4
0.07 1.8
0.09 2.3
0.12 2.7
0.16 3.2

 

For large-scale commercial broiler production, the broiler population in a house can be as high as 10,000-50,000. 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 raise in cages, more birds are raised per unit space.

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broilers in battery cage system
Battery cage house
broilers in deep litter system
Deep-litter House

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 reasons for the one hour of light per day is to accustom the birds to some darkness in the event of accidental darkness in such event, the birds will not be frightened and stampede with consequent injury. The light provided to 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 Farmng

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 3190kcal/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 3300kcal/kg energy. This is fed after 3-4 weeks until the birds reach the market weight between 8-10 weeks.

Some broiler farmers feed 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.

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A broiler will consume approximately 1.25kg of broiler starter mash in 4 weeks. Between 4-10 weeks it will consume about 3.75-4.75kg of finisher mash. The average feed conversion rate is 2:1 i.e. 2kg of feed per 1kg body weight gain. In many flocks, feed conversion is above 2. Feed conversion ratio usually increases with 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.

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