|Guidelines and References: Livestock Training Component (Small Animal Husbandry) (Peace Corps, 1985, 302 p.)|
The purpose of this unit or lesson is (1) to allow the trainees to analyze and utilize the records they have kept on the chickens they have raised during training, (2) to emphasize the importance of records and how recordkeeping is one component of production planning.
This is usually the last class during training so that trainees can determine the production level of the chickens they have raised during training.
Broilers are purchased at day old during the beginning of training. Trainees raise and care for them, keeping records on daily feed consumption and weekly weight gain. With this information, the trainees can compare the performance of the flock in feed consumption and weight gain with the chart in Practical Poultry Raising (averge weights and feed consumption for male meat bird). This is from chapter 9, POULTRY MARKETING AND FINANCES, which is good background reading for this lesson.
Trainees also determine what the feed to gain ratio for the flock is both weekly and cumulatively during the project.
Feed to Gain
Feed to gain means how much feed does the animal have to eat in order to put on one unit of weight gain. For example, if an animal eats two pounds of feed and gains one pound, the feed to gain ratio is 2 to 1. If you look at the above mentioned chart, you will notice that this ratio should be expected at the fifth week (the chart reads 2.08).
Feed to gain ratios are important because they determine the cost of producing a pound of meat, and thus how much profit can be made.
Example: If feed costs $.10 a pound, and the feed to gain ratio is three, it will cost $.30 to produce a pound of meat. If you know that 75 percent of your cost in raising broilers is feed cost, then you must sell a pound of meat (live weight) at $.40. (.75 x = $.30, x = $.30/.75 = $.40) in order to break even.
Feed consumption, weight gain, and egg production not only determine whether the project is making money, but the daily health of the flock. Drop in feed consumption is the first sign of possible disease. Egg production, when recorded daily is also a health indicator.
Mature egg laying chickens are purchased at the beginning of training. Trainees care for, feed, and keep records on the flock's daily feed consumption and egg production. Unless the age of the flock is known, it is difficult to determine what production should be. Chart A gives the ideal production goals for egg laying chickens. Trainees can determine the daily or monthly egg production of the flock.
The above chart indicates the
1. Rate of egg production
2. Body weight
3. Feed Consumption
For high production chickens, the average feed per dozen of eggs is 4.4 lbs. per dozen eggs.
EXAMPLE: If a flock of 12 egg laying chickens produce 6 eggs, production for that day is 50 percent (optimum situation is if each bird lays one egg, then production would be 100 percent). If after one month, the flock produces 180 eggs or 15 dozen, the average egg production for the month is 50 percent. (Optimum situation, or 100 percent is an egg a day x 30 days x 12 birds = 360 eggs; 180 eggs/360 eggs =.5 or 50%). If the flock consumed 6 pounce of feed a day, or 180 lbs. of feed for the month the feed per dozen eggs is 12 the (180 lbs./15 dozen = 12 lbs/dozen).
According to chart A, the average feed per dozen eggs is 4.4 lbs, so 8 pounds is three times the yearly average. It is difficult to know whether these chickens are doing well unless you know what stage they are in, their laying cycle, and since we do not know the age, we cannot determine this.
EXAMPLE: If laying birds are six months old, under a proper high management situation, birds should be at 50 percent production and feed consumption per 100 hens would be 20 pounds, the feed per dozen eggs is 20 pounds divided by 4.2 dozen (50 eggs), which is 4.8 pounds of feed per dozen eggs. This information was taken from Chart A.
Although volunteers may not work in high management and production systems, the principles can still apply to lower systems. Feed ratio is only a general indicator on how well an animal is performing (genetics), what is the quality and quantity of the feed (nutrition), the health of the animal (disease), and whether feed is being wasted, stolen, eaten by rats, etc. (management and housing). The price of a pound of meat or a dozen eggs compared to the cost of a pound of chicken feed is what really determines whether the farmer will make money or not.
EXAMPLE: If it takes 8 pounds of feed to produce a dozen eggs and 8 pounds cost one dollar, the farmer can still make a profit if a dozen is selling for two dollars. Feed to gain usually relates more to cost, and supply and demand developed economics.
Since trainees obtain this information based on their recordkeeping system, they should be able to take a more active role in their training and instill the value of recordkeeping to farmers.