Commercial layer farms contribute about 70% towards total egg production in Pakistan, whereas the remaining 30% comes from rural poultry. The Day Old Chicks (DOCs) of layer are procured from hatcheries and breeder companies. These are brooded and reared for a period of 6 months after which, they start laying eggs for a period of next 12 months. On an average, one hen lays about 300-350 eggs. The price of egg varies with demand and supply and is generally higher in winter. As these birds stop laying or feed efficiency drops, the layers are culled and sold in market. The selling price of these birds is determined on live body weight basis.
Layer farm management in line with best husbandry practices is vital for the success of this business. All farm operations would be done with strict compliance to recommended husbandry practices including standard hygiene, proper temperature, humidity, vaccination, medication, feeding and lighting management.
In this article, all calculations have been based on revolving flock size of 5,000 layers, kept for 1.5 years. There will be a lag time of one month for cleaning and disinfection and necessary arrangements for preparation of next flock. The flock will produce 10,287 dozen eggs per month.
Rural and peri-urban and rural areas around big cities e.g. Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Ziarat, Peshawar, Charsadda, Abbotabad and Swat are recommended for starting a layer farm. Setting up a farm at an isolated place will minimize the risk of diseases. Proximity of farms to cities enables the farmer to develop easy links with the market for the purchase of farm inputs and for selling eggs and culled birds.
Layer farming is a profitable venture. Sale is channelized through dealer contracts on farm gate basis or supplied in bulk to the wholesalers or bulk buyers. There are bakeries and confectioneries that need daily supply of eggs for their production. The wholesale and retail price of eggs and poultry meat is determined daily on demand and supply dynamics.
A conventional farm of 5,000 layers is suggested in this article, which may be started in a rented, purpose built building / shed requiring a total estimated investment of Rs 2.22 million. This includes a capital investment of Rs. 0.20 million and working capital of Rs. 2.02 millions. The Net Present Value (NPV) of the project is around Rs. 24.17 million with an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 84% and a payback period of 2.12 years. The project will generate direct employment for 02 persons. Higher return on investment and a steady growth of business is expected with the entrepreneur having some prior experience in the related field of business.
Eggs are packed in paper or plastic trays, sold in bulk in wholesale markets. Losses in eggs business can be minimized by following careful transportation methods as eggs are prone to damage during transportation. In this study, estimated average price of eggs is taken as Rs. 100 per dozen.
All the figures in this financial model have been calculated for a flock of 5,000 layer birds kept for 1.5 years at rented premises. It is assumed that one layer would be able to produce 315 eggs per laying period of one year, with an estimated 1% loss through breakage, resulting in availability of 312 eggs per bird per year. Details of these financials can be studied in the business plan of layer farming in Pakistan by SMEDA.
Procedure of Poultry Farming for Eggs
Layer farming must begin with a clean and sanitized shed. The layout of open conventional shed should be north-south to ensure clean, dry and well-ventilated shed, as this provides fresh air and carries off humidity. The shed should remain empty at least two weeks after disinfection and fumigation to control disease outbreaks through removal of debris and exposure of surfaces to fumigants.
Selection of Day Old Chicks
For the proposed project, strain of White Leghorn breed i.e. Hy-Line W-36 is recommended as it is considered the most efficient layer with excellent livability and good egg production capacity. It lays dozens of good quality and strong shelled eggs at minimum feed intake. The DOCs procured from reliable hatcheries should be of uniform size, active, alert and bright eyed. The skin of shanks of healthy chicks should be bright and shiny.
Application of good poultry husbandry practices such as timely feeding, watering, lighting, vaccination, medication, temperature / humidity control and culling of uneconomical layers to ensure flock’s best performance and higher efficiency in disease-free environment.
Checklist for Pre-Brooding Management
- Cleaning and disinfection of equipment, building interior and attached areas is advised. Disinfectants can be prepared with Phenol, Potassium Permanganate, Carbolic Acid and Formalin. A solution of Sodium Hydroxide/Caustic Soda with warm water can also be used for cleaning. The equipment requires regular cleaning with water.
- Farm is sanitized by fumigation with Formaldehyde gas, produced by putting Formalin on Potassium Permanganate. The rooms should be vacant and sealed for 30 minutes after fumigation so that the gas infiltrates in every corner.
- Litter is spread on the floor to prevent direct contact with the floor. Rice-husk and sawdust are generally used for making the litter. It should be dry and free of molds. Caked or moldy material should be removed and refilled with fresh materials. Extensively wet and dusty litter should also not be used. Using new litter for each flock is good for raising disease-free layer.
- Ensure proper ventilation and temperature.
- Remove all leftover feed from bins, hoppers and troughs.
- Place rodenticide out of the reach of DOCs.
- Check regularly the availability of water and feed for chicks.
Checklist for Brooding, Rearing and Laying Management
- The DOCs should arrive at the farm early in the morning so that the management has a full day to observe them for any issues.
- Flushing should be done by offering 250 gm glucose per gallon of water as readily available source of energy and to clear the digestive tract.
- The brooder is an essential part of layer farming, also known as, ‘Artificial Mother’ as it provides necessary heat to DOCs shortly after arrival till 7 days of age. The temperature for brooders should be 99 F, encircled by chick guard sheets.
- Keep light at high intensity 20–22 hours per day for the first week. Closely regulate temperature of shed.
- Starter feed should be offered as a source of energy to chicks as it is easily digestible and a good source of energy.
- During the first six weeks, offer feed twice a day. After six weeks, feed consumption and body weights should be monitored against the given charts provided by DOCs suppliers.
- Follow the recommended vaccination schedule.
- Remove dead birds immediately and dispose them properly. Send the dead birds to lab for postmortem examination if there is excessive mortality.
- At laying stage, properly placed nests are required so that layers could produce eggs without any hindrance.
Layer Feeding Requirements
Feeding requirement during laying period depends on the rate of egg production and the body weight of layers. The birds require more feed in winter and less feed in summer. During summer months, the flock is under severe stress and therefore, it is suggested to temporarily change the feed to a higher level of protein content. The actual feed consumption may be influenced by several factors as follows;
- Health, physical condition and body weight of the bird.
- Rate of egg production.
- Weather condition.
- Feed quality such as protein and energy contents of feed.
Layer Feed Types in Pakistan
The layers are fed following types of feed;
- Chick Starter (Mash or crumb form): fed for one month
- Grower (Mash or crumb form): fed from second to sixth month
- Layer (Mash/ crumbs/ pallet): fed during laying period
Feeding three or four times daily will stimulate feed intake and prevents wastage. There are many feed mills that prepare above mentioned formulated feed.
Disease Prevention and Control in Layers
- Use effective medicines to prevent coccidiosis.
- Keep feed free from aflatoxins.
- Follow bio-security plans by not allowing visitors or attendants to enter sheds without disinfected boots and clothes.
- Start daily farm operations from youngest group of birds.
- Mortality losses should be kept below 5% by timely prophylactic measures (vaccination, medication, disinfection etc.). The New Castle Disease, Egg Drop Syndrome and Avian Influenza are extremely dangerous diseases and can eradicate the entire flock.