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Get housing right to minimise birds mortality

By Dr Watson Messo

I am planning to venture into chicken rearing and my target is 1,000 birds. I’m in the process of putting up a structure for the birds but I want to ensure I have the right structure before bringing in any chicks. What are some of the things I should consider?

Blessing Marwiro,

Dear Blessing,

It is good to consult before putting a permanent structure as this is a major project you are about to immerse yourself in. There are different types of poultry systems in use depending on the breed of chicken you intend to keep. The most common ones are the deep litter system (Barn system) and the cage system. The cages are made of small colonies usually of between four and six birds. Within the cage, there are perching areas, nesting areas and scratching areas and feeders and nipple drinkers.

Barn systems

In a commercial barn system, there is usually a central area with perches, nest boxes, feeders, and drinkers. There is then an extensive floor area that is covered in litter.

Free-range

This is like a barn system, but in addition, the birds have freedom of movement.

There is the organic system which is more like free-range, but with further constraints on feed supply and stocking density.

Location and distance

A poultry operation should be in an area with a low poultry density. Distance between two flock units in the same farm should be 100 ft while farms of different operations should be 1km apart or more. This requirement is good for disease prevention and containment should an outbreak occur. The farm must always be well supplied with clean portable water.

General demand for building Lay-out

On the lay-out, you need a good fence around the farm, a farmhouse with showering facility, egg room, feed store, parking area, and dead bird disposal pit. You must have a good all-weather road into and out of the farm. The unit should be constructed in an East-West orientation to minimise excessive light penetration in the morning and late afternoon.

Floors walls and roof

The construction of the house and other rooms must allow easy and correct cleaning and disinfection. A concrete and smooth floor and isolation of the roof is needed. Repairs must be carried out when the house is empty. The house must have lockable doors to keep unnecessary visitors off the premises. The wall should be two feet high from the floor and the rest of the five feet high wall made of chicken wire mesh which is totally wild bird-proof. Any type of roofing will do however in hot climates like the coast, ‘makuti-thatched’ roofs are the best.

Site boundary

However small your farm is, you need a good site boundary with a gate and disinfection area for visitors in the form of a foot bath and a spray race for delivery trucks. Keep vegetation as low as possible to avoid rat menace. Keep a clear three metres of bare space around the flock units all round to deter rodents from accessing the units.

Finally, always remember that anything moving into your flock units must be subjected to cleaning and disinfection, and if this cannot be done then it must be fumigated with appropriate chemicals.

For more information, please write to us on Smartharvest@standardmedia.co.ke

 [Dr Messo is a Vet at Kenchic]  

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