Practicing casual poultry farming is often costly especially when the poultry are allowed to fend for themselves and breed randomly. You cannot tell whether the birds are producing a loss or a profit. The poultry farmers might appear to be making some profit until they factor in the cost of grain fed, the amount of food picked up, the space occupied and the time and care the flock requires.
Farmers rarely consider the cost and value of the eggs consumed at home. Most of them keep a few hens to avoid purchasing eggs or meat. The hens more or less care for themselves by utilizing farm waste where the yield in form of eggs and chicks offsets losses incurred on feeds. Home consumption of eggs and poultry should be put on a business basis. Every amount of food fed to the flock should be charged against the flock, and every egg used by the family should be credited to the hens at current market prices so that the full value may be known. This way the farmer determines whether poultry kept for home needs is profitable or not.
There is a huge demand for eggs and the market has never been fully supplied. On this account egg production offers exceptional opportunities to make money. Compared to other opportunities in the chicken business, egg production and sale can be more profitable because of the lower cost of production.
The first four to six months is the most costly because pullets have to be raised to the point of lay before realizing any returns. Bring back to laying hens that have molted and produced well over for another year.
The business of raising day old chicks is becoming attractive as more farmers engage in poultry farming. However, this specialized area requires the businessman to be proficient in artificial hatching and have quality chicks when customers are in need. The alternative to hatching which most businesses prefer is opting to import and distribute the day old chicks. But developing a local business can equally pay well if good strains of poultry are bred. This might easily be the foundation of a special trade for day old chicks within the locality.
No one should go into the broiler business unprepared. Broilers are profitable when sold early enough before they have eaten all the profits. A guaranteed market is imperative to supply broilers with cost-effective prices. It has been estimated that more than 90% of the failures in broiler business come from poor planning and marketing. It is more economical to sell the broilers as soon as they are of marketable size, usually earlier than 8 weeks of age.
Roasters are fairly mature birds large enough to supply a family dinner. Such birds are sold when four or five months old. The birds are marketed when they have reached the heaviest weights and before their flesh hardens. These birds are most profitably raised by being allowed free range where they grow from the time they leave the brooder or the mother hen to the time they are sold. Frequently they are fattened for two weeks or so before going to the market.
Farmers who cannot handle large numbers of early chicks can dispose of surplus cockerels as capons or ordinary roasters. Cockerels can be caponized, fattened to add weight and sold at much higher prices. Capons do not quarrel therefore can be kept in large flocks.
The production of layers is another specialized area of the poultry business. Egg farmers are glad to pay higher prices for pullets raised to the point of lay avoiding risks of deaths and other uncertainties incidental to raising chicks. Profits are maximized when losses arising out of chick mortality are kept low. This business does well where commercial egg producers go directly into egg production without the hustles of raising chicks.
The huge demand for turkeys and the best prices come around December during the Christmas holidays. Turkey production does not interfere with other poultry because turkeys get along well with the chickens and because they cover a wider field in their foraging. They do best where there is unrestricted range. Hatching can be done so that the poults grow to salable size in time to reach the markets.
Duck farming is a business for the specialist and unless carried out carefully it is not likely to be profitable. The business demands skilled labor in feeding and dressing. Although ducks are in small demand, there is a small market for breeding stock and a few duck farmers are making money in this niche. If there is a good local market for ducks it may be worthwhile to take up this branch of poultry farming experimentally on a small scale and develop it as you gain experience. The demand for ducks is steadily increasing in the local markets and you may find it profitable to expand.
Geese require extensive space to become profitable. They cannot be economically raised in confinement. Where farms have swamps or large water pools, such lands can be made profitable by means of geese. The birds practically feed themselves on pasture. All the breeding flock needs is a dry place to sleep and moderate feeding. The markets for geese are more or less the same as that for ducks.
Ostrich farming is fast gaining popularity with current demand for ostrich breeding stock far surpassing supply resulting in very high prices for all ages of birds. Demand for products such as skin or hide, plumage, and meat are also increasing. Profitable business depends on demonstrated practices in management and husbandry; breeding, brooding and rearing; nutrition, health maintenance and, above all, hatchery management and incubation. Extensive production system and maximum utilization of quality forage is necessary to make production economically feasible.
The guinea bird has a game flavor and can be sold as various kinds of flesh in restaurants as a substitute for a range of game as well as being sold under its own name. This fact has encouraged the growing of guinea birds to supply the demand. Like the turkey the guinea bird thrives best where there is ample free range, and unless one is sure of the market, you better not engage in guinea bird farming. Guineas are more exacting in their demands than turkeys, but where one has the space and is sure of a good market it may be well to make a venture in this direction.
Many people have been induced to go into the production of pigeon squabs. This is a niche market and while there are successes in this line of poultry production, the demand is low and the price is about fixed, so that it is not advisable to go into this business without knowing the market. The business is a specialist's line, and not adapted for ordinary farm conditions.
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