Poultry farming might have been a favourite pastime for many farmers back in the day, but that has all changed.
It has now become a lucrative farming enterprise with huge earnings power and its potential keeps rising each day.
Poultry farming is the raising of domesticated birds, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, for the purpose of farming meat or eggs for food. More than 50 billion chickens are raised annually as a source of food for both their meat and their eggs globally.
This includes layers – chicken raised for egg production – and broilers – those raised for meat.
The poultry industry, in general, provides a cheap source of animal protein and has taken a quantum leap in the last three decades – evolving from a near backyard practice to a venture of industrial promotion.
Poultry is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural sector in the world today.
Depending on the farm size, layer farming can be the main source of family income or can provide income and gainful employment to farmers throughout the year.
Poultry manure has a high fertiliser value and can be used for increasing the yield of all crops. Commercial hens usually begin laying eggs at 16-20 weeks of age, although production gradually declines from approximately 25 weeks of age.
Rural people are disproportionately burdened by the effects of unemployment and poverty. Poverty limits the ability of the rural community to invest in the development of their communities. Poultry farming could be that vital link needed to bridge that gap.
Sustainable poultry farming requires knowledge, but these are relatively uncomplicated skills that can be taught to rural individuals who possess little or no formal education.
The majority of rural individuals nonetheless have some knowledge of rearing poultry on an extensive scale because it is common practice for most rural people to keep a few poultry running around in their backyard.
The intention is to get rural farmers rearing poultry on a semi-intensive scale so that they can earn some money and also supplement their dietary requirements, ultimately elevating their living standards.
Rearing poultry as a business has its benefits too. A considerably short time is required from the time of inception of the project to the time when a farmer can sell some produce.
Broilers can be sold for meat after six weeks if they are reared under optimal conditions.
A relatively small amount of capital is required for starting, compared with the rearing of cattle – for instance. As few as 50 poultry can significantly change the livelihood of a poor rural dweller.
No hired labour is required for such an endeavour. Family labour is usually sufficient. It also gives a rapid return on investment. Poultry is capable of utilizing, as it feeds large quantities of byproducts like bran, substandard grains, vegetables, etc., which normally go to waste, thus saving the farmer a portion of his expenses towards poultry feed.
Poultry farming is a continuous source of income. It is not seasonal, and it can produce income for the entire year.
It also requires only minimum space and the chicken can be reared even in the backyards of homes.
Poultry requires very little water for both drinking and cleaning. One litre of water is sufficient for five birds for a day.
The good news is that poultry production continues to show a growing trend locally and internationally, outperforming other protein sources, such as beef and pork.
So, get on board. Start your small-scale poultry operation and watch them grow your income.