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close this bookPractical Poultry Raising (Peace Corps, 1981, 225 p.)
close this folder6. Housing and equipment
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFree - range
View the documentContained, with limited range
View the documentContained systems
View the documentBuilding a chicken house
View the documentMaking wire cages
View the documentUse of cages
View the documentEquipment

Contained, with limited range

The many variations of this system all seek to protect the chickens from disease and predators while allowing them to find some food for themselves in a fenced - in area or range.

Advantages:

· The cost of feeding the chickens can be reduced by as much as 20 percent if the range is well managed with a good growth of grass.

· Using grassy areas under fruit or other crop trees as range can mean more efficient use of that land.

· Sunshine provides vitamin D; chickens kept out of the sun need supplemental vitamin D in their feed. (Note: depending on their diets, chickens will need other vitamin supplements as well.)

· Exercise and outdoor life produce tougher, but tastier chickens that some people prefer.

· Inside a fence, the chickens receive some protection from predators.

· Isolating the flock from other chickens provides some degree of disease protection.

· What the chickens eat outside the house can be estimated and allowed for when mixing feeds.

· When the range is large, stress due to crowding is reduced. Disadvantages:

· In areas with prolonged rains, the chickens stay inside the house both night and day. Therefore, houses have to be as large and well equipped as those without ranges. Thus, in addition to equal housing costs, farmers must pay for fencing.

· If grass on the range is sparse, savings on feed costs will be slight. Land that grows lush grass often is more profitably used for cereal grains or other food crops.

· Unless the fence is at least 2 m (6 ft.) tall, the farmer will have to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each bird. Small, light breeds can fly over even taller fences.

· Other species of birds entering the range will carry pests and diseases, especially fowl cholera.

· The chickens should be rotated to fresh range every few months to prevent the build - up of diseasecausing contaminants in the soil, which requires more land.

· Maintaining a range as well as a house requires more labor than maintaining just the house.

Recommendation - Unless unusual local circumstances favor this system, farmers will do better using a fully contained one.