Poultry is an important source of protein patronized by most people irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Poultry species commonly raised for commercial purposes in Ghana are fowls/chicken, categorized as broilers and layers for meat and egg production respectively.
Layers are species of chicken primarily kept for egg production. They start laying from the 18th-20th week and continue for 50-52 weeks when laying percentage drops and keeping the birds becomes commercially uneconomical. At this stage, the birds are sold for meat.
Management of Layers
Commercial layer production is commonly managed under intensive system. The Preferred housing is the deep litter fixed with cages for laying.
Floor Space Requirement for Birds
|Age in weeks||Ft.sq/bird||M.sq/bird||Birds/m.sq|
Grower stage is 7-20 weeks of age Birds can be reared in one house throughout the brooding, growing and laying periods. Floor space is as recommended in the table above. The house can be partitioned and adjusted when necessary according to the space requirement.
Water space (water trough)
Chicks require 1.3-1.5cm/chick (0.5-0.6inches) of trough space. As chicks grow, that is from 4weeks, space must be increased to 2cm/bird 90.8inches) of trough space at grower stage and to 3.2cm. (1.25inches) at layer stage.
Feeder space (feed trough)
Chicks require 5m (2inches)/chick of trough space. As chicks grow, space must be increased to 7.6 cm. (3 inches) of trough space per bird at grower stage and 10.5cm. (4inches) at layer stage.
How to prepare chicks
Chicks are brooded for a period of 2-3weeks under hygienic environment to avoid infections.
Steps to follow
- Clean and disinfect the brooder house 1-2 weeks before birds arrive
- Wash and disinfect water/feed troughs and brooder guard
- Clean and remove weeds and debris outside the house
How to receive chicks
- The floor of the house must be covered with wood shavings 3 days before chicks arrive
- Place brooder guard around the source of heat few hours before chicks arrive,
- The house must be preheated at a temperature of 31o-33oc (90o-95oF)
- about 3-4hours before chicks arrive (gas or electric brooders are recommended) this should be reduced gradually to 21oc by 3 weeks of age. Two of 150 watts incandescent bulbs are recommended for a floor space of 4.95sqm. (53.28sqft.) suspended at 0.3 m. (1ft) from the floor level.
- Fill waterers with clean water and place in the house 3-4 hours before chicks arrive. Provide feed on flat pans about 1 or 2 hours after the chicks have taken some water.
Raising of birds
Birds are transferred from the brooder house to the grower house/pen at 6-7 weeks of age and to the layer house at 18-20 weeks of age. At the layer house, cage/nest measuring 31 cm wide (1ft) by 31cm high (1 ft.) per compartment are placed in at various points for laying. The nests are placed in the house before birds start laying. Birds are debeaked at 8 days old. This is done to avoid pecking and cannibalism among chickens.
Wash water troughs with clean water and detergent daily. Provide foot bath with disinfectant at the doorstep. The poultry house and feed storage area should be kept free of rodents and wild birds. There should be good aeration and light in all poultry houses. Avoid wet litter conditions as this promotes the growth of infectious diseases.
There are 3 types of feed for layers: starters mash, grower mash and layer mash.
Sample of feed
|Ingredient||Chick starter (in kg)||Grower mash (in kg)||Layer mash (in kg)|
|1st Newcastle disease||2nd week|
|Fowl pox||4th week|
|2nd Newcastle disease||6th week|
|Fowl pox||12th week|
|3rd Newcastle disease||16th week|