Layer birds are chickens that are raised for for the purpose of producing eggs for human consumption. They are different from broiler birds, which are raised for meat production. Layer birds can be a profitable business if managed properly . ln this article i will discuss some of the basic aspects of layer poultry farming, such as housing, feeding, and marketing.
The first step in starting a layer poultry farm is to select the right breed of chickens that suit your production goals and environment. There are many breeds of layer birds available in the market, but they can be broadly classified in two types, white egg layers and brown egg layers .White egg layers are smaller in size ,consume less feed and produce white shelled eggs . Brown egg layers are larger in size , consume more feed , they produce brown shelled eggs.
The next step is to provide a suitable housing system for your layer birds . The housing system should be clean ,well ventilated, and secure for the birds. There are three common housing systems for layer poultry farming, we have the deep litter system, battery cage , and free range system.
1.Deep litter system.
In this system the birds are kept on the floor of a pen or enclosure that is covered with litter material such as wood shavings, rice husks, straw, etc.
2.Battery cage system
here the birds are kept in wire cages that are arranged in rows and tiers. Each cage has a feeder, a drinker , a nest box and a perch. The cages are connected to a conveyor belt that collects the eggs automatically. This system has a high initial cost to set up, high maintenance cost , stress and injury to the birds.
3. Free range system
In this system, the birds are allowed to roam freely on a pasture or an open that has natural vegetation and shelter . The birds have access to feeders and drinkers that are placed in strategic locations. The advantages if this system are low cost , high welfare and health of the birds. The disadvantages are low egg production, high predation risk and difficult in monitoring and management.
The most important step is to provide adequate and balanced feed for your layer birds.
Layer poultry is a profitable business and the demand for eggs is high, in Zimbabwe as I’m writing this, a crate of eggs cost $4, a 50kg bag of layers mash (feed) cost $25,50.
This is a profitable business to invest in, as the start up capital required is low.