Backyard Poultry Farming Information for Beginners
Backyard poultry farming is an ancient tradition in many parts of the world. Backyard poultry farming is rearing of native breeds of birds having very poor outputs. Backyard chickens are omnivorous and ground dwelling. Backyard chicken along with eggs have high nutritional values, with high proteins and low-fat contents.
Backyards chicken produces only 70 to 80 eggs per year and they have very less meat production. But by implementing upgraded techniques and growing new breeds can increase the output for backyard poultry farming.
Backyard poultry farming business is very low investment business, but have good returns among the poor. Backyard poultry can be taken by households as a secondary source of income or to cater the egg and meat requirements of the family. Starting up backyard farming with minimum 10-20 birds can earn good amount of money with very low food and shelter expenses to birds.
Advantages of Backyard poultry farming
- Backyard poultry farming needs very low investment.
- You can start your farm with minimum number of chickens to a large flock.
- Feeding cost backyard chicken is very less, agricultural byproducts and leftover food and grains used as feed for chickens.
- Due to huge demand for local chicken, you can sell both chicken and meat at good prices.
- Consumers are ready to pay high prices for backyard chicken for their delicious taste and quality.
- Agricultural labors and small-scale farmers raise these chickens to increase their income.
- You can sell your backyard chickens as per your family needs.
- Backyard chickens are high quality chickens as they are grown naturally in a low stress environment.
Steps to increase the profits in backyard poultry farming
Backyard chickens produce less eggs and meat compared to the boiler or other chicken varieties. So to increase its production levels you need to improve the status of backyard poultry farming, by farming improved chicken breeds.
Birds raised in backyard poultry farming should have the following characters
- Select birds that are adaptable to local weather conditions.
- Birds should be capable of self-propagation.
- Birds should have good brooding capacity.
- Should have mothering ability.
- Birds you select for backyard farming should have well-formed body.
- They should hardy in nature.
- Backyard farming, chicken should be a good scavenger.
- They should have attractive plumage
- They should be capable escaping from predators.
- Backyard chicken should have good resistance power.
Select best breed considering above characters to make your backyard poultry farming more profitable.
Breeds for backyard poultry farming
There many varieties of breed farmed for egg and meat production. Many chicken breeds are good for backyard farming.
Popular breeds suitable for backyard poultry farming
Rhode Island red:
This is a popular backyard chicken breed. This breed hen weight about 6.6 lbs, having dark red feathers. These chickens are a dual-purpose breed, but they mostly raised for laying eggs. They lay brown colored eggs. And this breed backyard chicken lay 260 eggs annually. This chicken breed does well in small flocks.
This is a breed of backyard chicken are also very famous, they come different colors. They are good at long-term egg production. These chickens are a dual-purpose breed, they have strong bodies and lay green eggs. Ameraucana chickens are adaptable to all the climate and are very easy to handle. They 260 eggs per year. This breed does well in large flocks.
These are also multipurpose chicken, they weight about 8b. They lay brown eggs and have curvy shape. These chickens are for the dual purpose breed and does well with small flocks and rugged conditions. They lay 200 eggs per year.
This breed backyard chickens are multipurpose weight 8 lb. They lay brown color eggs, and they are many different color varieties chicken in this breed. These chickens have a heavy body and adjustable for cold weather. Lays 190 eggs per year.
Some other local breeds native to India are Gramapriya, vanaraja, giriraja, gririrani, Krishna -j etc.
These breeds lay 200 to 230 eggs per year. And the body weights 2.5 to 3.5 kgs.
Housing for backyard poultry farming
Good housing arrangements will increase the backyard chicken production. Housing should protect the birds from sun, rain and predators. Backyard chickens are freed in day times and sheltered at night.
Backyard chicken housing should follow below steps
- The house should be constructed in the east-west direction. This direction of house protects the chickens from summer and cold winds. The house should get good sunlight in cold weather.
- There are many designs of houses are available. Choose the design that suits your land and weather conditions.
- The house should have minimum 3 to 4 square feet per bird.
- The house should not get direct sunlight in summer; hot weather may harm the birds.
- The house should be constructed with wood, bamboo, grass, thatch etc.
- The House/coop should be free from moisture.
- Construct the house on an elevated land or it should be 2 feet above the ground level.
- Walls of houses should 7 ft to 8 ft height. And center height should be 9 ft to 10 ft with slope in either side.
- Roof of the house should be covered with thatch, tiles, grass, wood etc.
- The house should have free air movement in the upper part to reduce the gas formation inside the shed.
- The house/coop should have good ventilation.
- Layer chicken need nest boxes. One box for 4 to 5 chickens.
- Make special arrangement to house for protecting the birds from predators. The main predators that harm chicken are rats, owls, hawks and cats. The house should be hole free for a predator to sneak in.
- The house/coop should have light bulb or heat lamp facility.
Brooding in Backyard poultry farming
There are two types of brooding; Natural and artificial brooding;
In natural brooding local broody hens used and they are very good sitters. High quality fertile eggs are put for incubation. Proper nesting equipment is provided for brooding with good food and water supply during the incubation period.
The broody hen can hatch 12 to 15 chicks, after hatching chicks are let loose for scavenging along with mothers. At night there should be a separate space for the chicks and hen in the coop.
In artificial brooding the brooding house should have an artificial heat facility. You should provide artificial heat with electricity, gas, wood, sawdust, etc. Bhukharies are also good artificial heat generators. Wood, charcoal, sawdust is used in Bhukaries.
- In artificial brooding the optimum temperature in the first week is – 35 °c.
- And after week the temperature reduced gradually -15 ⁰c every week up to 6 weeks till 23⁰C.
- Brooder house needs 2 watts per chick up to 6 weeks.
- Light in brooder house increases the food consumption and growth in chicks.
- Light prevents the chicks from getting scared.
- For the first 6 weeks you should provide continuous 48 hours light in the brooder house.
- In growing period that is 8 to 18 weeks you should provide light for 10 to 12 hours.
- In laying period, you should provide light for 15 to 16 hours.
- A chick guard made of cardboard is used to protect the chicks from direct light in brooder houses.
- Chick guard height should 14 to 17 inches and is placed in a circular shape at 2 inches away from a hover.
Diet management- Backyard poultry farming
In backyard poultry farming, the diet cost is very less compared to other poultry farming’s. In backyard farming chickens are let free for food in open area. They eat insects, snails, termites, grains, weeds, worms, crop residues and household wastes.
Chicken should be fed a complete feed with balanced vitamins, minerals and proteins for healthy growth and more output. The feed of backyard chicken includes broken rice, groundnut straw, wheat grains, beans, vegetable, fruits, seeds etc. You should provide only in the mornings and evening. Feed given should 30 to 60 grams per bird in a day. Feed should not be stored more than a month.
- Feeder space required in brooding period – 2 to 7 cm.
- Feeder space in growing period- 7 to 10cm.
- Feeder space in laying period -12 to 15 cm/bird.
Protein levels in feed:
The ideal poultry meal should contain-
- Starter stage – 20% protein.
- Growing stage – 16% protein.
- Laying period – 18% protein.
Energy levels in feed:
- Starter Stage- 2800 kcal/kg feed.
- Grower stage-2600 kcal/kg feed.
- Laying stage- 2650 kcal/kg feed.
The food consumption of chickens may increase in the winter. Chicken should be provided with fresh clean, water continuously. In summer you should take more care about their feed and water requirements.
Health Management in backyard poultry farming
In the backyard poultry farming the chicken should be vaccinated for all viral diseases in time. Most common diseases that affect chickens are Ranikhet disease, Marek’s diseases, fowl pox, gumbroo diseases etc.
Birds should be vaccinated in time following vaccination timetable.
Vaccination chart for backyard poultry farming:
- Day old chicken- should be vaccinated with the HVT MD vaccine.
- After 4 to 7 days -should be vaccinated with F-1/Lasota.
- At age of 14 to 18 days – chicks should be vaccinated with Intermediate plus.
- At age of 35 days – chicks should be vaccinated with F-1/Lasota.
- At age of 7 weeks – chicken embryo adopted.
- At age of 8 to 10 weeks- they should be vaccinated with strain killed vaccine.
Deworming chart for backyard poultry farming:
Birds should be dewormed regularly for a healthy flock.First deworming medicine should be given at age of 7 weeks and repeated for every 3 weeks. Deworming medicine should mixed with the drinking water. Don’t give normal water till the medicated water completes. Backyard Chicken should be given 4 rounds of deworming medicines.
Daily caring tips in backyard poultry farming:
- Chickens should be free from the house in the morning and put in the coop in the evening.
- Waterer and feeder should be filled with fresh food and water daily.
- Backyard chickens are mostly layered, so eggs should be picked alternatively.
- Bad odor in coop should be controlled.
Health care tips for backyard poultry farming
- Select healthy, diseases free chicken for backyard poultry farming.
- Vaccination chart should be maintained without fail.
- Provide chick fresh, clean water.
- Chicken feed should not be stored for more days. Avoid fungus free food for chickens.
- The house/coop should be cleaned regularly.
- Huge crowding may harm the chickens.
- Diseases chicken should be removed immediately from the crowd.
- Feeding equipment’s and waterer should also be cleaned once in a week.
- Before buying new flock, housing shed should be cleaned properly.
- Footbath provision should be arranged in front of poultry shed.
- Shed should protected from hot and cold wind using curtains or mats to keep maintain room temperature in the shed.
Production of eggs in backyard poultry farming:
Backyard chicken starts laying eggs at age six months. They lay eggs for 5 to 10 years, they lay 5 to 6 eggs in a week. Egg production may reduce year by year when hens molt and when the daylight hours are lost.
For continuous eggs, hens should be provided with 12-14 hours of light daily. A normal electric bulb can supply sufficient light.
What to do with chicken manure in backyard poultry farming:
Chicken manure is full of food residue, intestinal bacteria, mineral by-products, etc. So 90% of chicken dropping is water. So, this can create humidity and odor problems in coops.
There are three ways to solve this manure problem in backyard poultry farming:
- One way is to clean up the shed/coop two to three times in a year. This can reduce manure storage and odor problems.
- You can solve the manure problem by using moveable shelter. Movable coops can reduce the manure problem and save the cleaning time. Changing locations can give birds new space to graze and peck.
- Even you use composting technique. Provide 3 to 4 inches of bedding to the chicken, stir up bedding regularly to prevent clumping. Add fresh bedding until it is 10 inches deep by winter.
- Compost bedding can generate warm bed of chicken in winters. Compost should be stirred regularly to prevent odor and flies.
Some of the Indian poultry breeds suitable for backyard poultry farming.
- Cari Sonali Layer.
- Cari Priya.