About two years ago, my cousin quit his job at a poultry farm to start his own. He was successful with his first batch and lost almost all his second batch chickens.
The third batch was okay but it coincided with when recession just started hitting. He ended up selling that batch for cheap.
As a business, raising chickens involve much more than when it’s for personal consumption. Chickens have peculiar needs which must be met. Failure to meet these needs might lead to serious losses.
When researching this topic, one important thing I learnt was: this business IS NOT a get rich scheme. You will need the right knowledge to succeed in it.
In this post, I’ll be sharing how to raise chickens for meat. Especially against festive seasons. I tried as much as possible to cover the basics that can get you on your way.
There are three broad classification of chickens:
- Egg and meat
Broilers are mainly raised for meat while layers are for eggs. Of course, layers can also be sold for meat. However, under these broad categories are numerous breeds of chickens. Cockerels are also raised for meat.
Since we are dealing with meat production, our focus is broilers and cockerels. On average, broilers take 8-9 weeks to reach market size. Cockerels, on the other hand, take much longer. Sometimes up to 6 months.
There are arguments on which of the two is more profitable and easier to train. Some believe broilers have a higher mortality rate. Others say broilers have a higher turnover since they take lesser time to mature. For our yield calculation (down below), we worked with broilers.
What you need to start raising chickens
You’ll sure need some money to raise chickens. There’s no denying that. You buy the chickens, house, treat and feed them with money.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll need to raise chickens:
- Chicken house
- Lighting system
- Vaccines/drugs/other treatment
- Feeders, waterer
For more, see this checklist.
This is excluding the chickens, land and labour.
For starters, I’d recommend saving cost on land and labour. If you’re lucky to have land (especially in rural areas), use it. My cousin used a part of the land on which the township home rests. Some residential areas might be against poultry farming so confirm before setting out.
Building a chicken coop
There are three main classifications of poultry management systems. They are: extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive.
Deep litter is a popular intensive system in Nigeria. The chickens are kept in a pen whose concrete floor is covered with sawdust or wood shavings. The sawdust is changed frequently to keep the place clean and curtail disease breakout.
An important factor to note is that the chicken house must be well ventilated and spacious. It should be made in a way ventilation and air movement is easily controlled. On space, this article recommends each chicken to at least 2 square feet of space.
Other important guidelines to consider are:
- Adequate lighting
- Clean surrounding
- Safety from thieves, pets, predators.
My cousin estimates he spent ₦120,000 on his chicken house. He did most of the manual labour except roofing and minor carpentry work. It’s a 500-bird capacity house.. He estimates a higher building cost when one factors in manual labour and fluctuating cost of material.
It is important to note that good hygiene and a well-ventilated pen go a long way in keeping the chickens safe. Do not sacrifice these to save cost as it will come back to bite.
Ask around for hatcheries where you can buy day-old chicks (DOC). Day old chicks currently go for ₦120-₦250 each and are cheaper if you’re buying above 500. Furthermore, the price decreases as festive seasons approaches. This can serve as a good time to buy against the future.
Take good time to buy chicks from farms with good records.
Initially the chicks will need constant checks. This is when they are most vulnerable. During their stay, you’ll need to keep an eye on their temperature; protect them from pets, predators and over handling. Always keep their water and feeds clean.
Daily routines include:
- serving fresh feed and water
- minor clean up
- health inspection
A weekly routine will involve changing the sawdust. This might be done twice in a week depending on how dirty it is. Other weekly activity will be thorough cleaning of the coop. Bi-weekly or monthly routines will involve stocking up on supplies.
Chickens eat, A LOT. They will not grow to size if not well fed. This in turns affects selling price and profits.
You can buy commercial chicken feeds or produce yourself. For a smaller setup, you may use commercial fields before learning how to self-produce. Self-milled feeds require sound knowledge of the right formula.
Some farmers make their own feeds to save cost and to give their birds quality feeds. Formulas abound on the internet, though it’s hard to say which is best unless tried.
Here’s an example of one of such formulas.
Commercial feeds are getting expensive and there are reports of substandard feeds in the market. A bag currently goes for about ₦3,500-₦3,800.
Marketing and sales
One mistake farmers make is that they do not market their birds early enough. They wait until the birds are almost market ready before marketing. As soon as you get the chickens, start sharing the good news to points-of-sales especially markets.
Another sales avenue is selling to restaurants, hotels and cold rooms. This will involve dressing them and selling them part by part.
(For a summary, skip to ‘Profits’)
We will be making some assumptions along the way:
Day to day running of the business = ₦0 (done by you)
300 broilers at ₦250 = ₦75,000
Estimated building cost of chicken house = ₦150,000
Immunization and vaccines = ₦30,000
Feeds at ₦3800 per bag. 6 bags per week = ₦22,800
Broilers take an average of 8 weeks to reach market size. Therefore:
Total feed for 8 weeks = Price of weekly feed x no of weeks
= 22,800 x 8
Miscellaneous (waterers, feeders etc) = ₦50,000. This is to cover any contingencies.
Total expenditure = Price of birds + building cost + Immunization + feed + miscellaneous
= 75,000 + 30,000 + 182,400 + 50,000 +150,000
Total expenditure = ₦487,400
Let’s assume a scenario where 40 chickens don’t make it. This leaves us with 260 birds. If we sell these at a Black Friday price of ₦2,500 each. We’ll have:
2,500 x 260 = ₦650,000
Total Revenue – Total expenditure = 650,000 – 487,400
Subsequent batches will not have building costs.
Note that these figures are estimates. I tried my best to make them as close to reality as possible.
From the above, it is easy to see why poultry farming is a profitable business. If we remove building costs, our profit above would’ve been just above ₦300,000. Carrying more birds also imply a higher profit margin.
Like my cousin said, the prayer in this business is to have less casualties and chickens at market size. The rest is in the sales. When these are covered, profit is inevitable.
The essence of this write up is to give you a basic lay down of how this business works. To engage in this business, I’ll recommend more reading on the subject. Much better if you can start with a few birds to get practical experience before launching out.
Wish you success in your chicken farming journeys!
Is there a typo you’d really want to point out? Are my calculations inaccurate or you have a chicken farming experience to share?
Kindly drop a comment below.