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close this bookThe Intensive Poultry Farming Industry in the Sahelian Zone (CDI, 1996, 56 p.)
View the document1.1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents1.2. General information on intensive poultry farming
View the document1.3. Criteria for assessing productivity in poultry farming

1.1. Introduction

The aim of this guide is to promote the development of intensive poultry farming and related activities in the Western Sahelian area. It follows on from the first meetings for professionals in the poultry and livestock feed industries organized by the CDI in Saly-Portudal (Senegal) in November 1993.

Intensive poultry farming is a quick and effective means of supplying African communities with animal protein of high nutritional quality at an extremely competitive price.

However, the exchange of views between ACP and EU operators taking part in these meetings showed that, alongside some very successful poultry farms, many others were suffering from insufficient mastery of production parameters. It turned out that the failures in this sector could be put down to a lack of technical information for farmers, inadequate structuring of the production phases (inadequacy or lack of hatcheries, abattoirs, egg tray production), frequently deficient feed quality, precarious husbandry conditions, lack of training of husbandry staff or inappropriate production tools.

This guide seeks to remedy that situation by providing readers, whether they be managers of poultry-keeping projects or professional poultry farmers, with a set of useful and realistic information which will enable them to avoid the many pitfalls which await them along the way. The CDI is not presenting a poultry farming manual, but a set of recommendations drawn from both African and European professionals who have acquired, through experience, know-how in the field of intensive poultry farming which can be of benefit to everyone involved in this activity.

In this guide, the reader will find diagrams, advice, a technological profile of poultry farming from primary production through to marketing, recommendations for designing a poultry farming project, a hatchery, an abattoir or even a compound feed production unit, relating in all cases to small units. It is easier to start on a modest scale than to manage a major enterprise in which neither production techniques nor management have been fully mastered, while making plans from the outset for possible future expansion.

The CDI's strategy is to support small, well-structured projects which have the greatest chance of success because the rigorous design process means that they are adapted to African socio-economic structural contingencies.

1.2.1. What is intensive poultry farming?

Unlike small-scale poultry-rearing to meet family needs in rural areas, intensive poultry units are located close to urban centres. Potential consumers of the products of intensive poultry farming are urban populations, local authorities and the hotel industry. Export outlets in some countries of the sub-region may also come up.

Like any other industrial activity, intensive poultry farming implies: capital investment, technical skills, know-how, permanent supervision, rigorous management and commercial ability.

We deliberately limit ourselves in this guide to egg production (for hatching and consumption) and broiler chickens, as these farming activities are far more widespread in the Sahelian region than the production of other poultry (turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, etc).

Other activities take place upstream and downstream of intensive poultry farming:

- The hatchery: produces day-old chicks from hatching eggs, which are either imported or produced in local breeding stock farms;

- The factory manufacturing compound feed for poultry units;

- The factory producing egg trays for egg transportation;

- The abattoir with coldroom for the slaughter of chickens and storage of the carcasses.

Finally, we should mention gathering, transport and packing (eggs, ready-to-roast chickens) operations as well as distribution to the consumer via wholesalers and retailers.

1.2.2. Poultry - a living machine

In intensive poultry farming, the production tool is living matter: poultry.

- It consumes air, drinking water and feed.
- It produces eggs and meat.
- It is sensitive to environmental conditions, stress and diseases.
- It pollutes due to emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and faecal and urinary waste.

1.2.3. Choice of breed

Small-scale poultry farms use breeds known as “rustic”, which are characterized by low performance (50/60 eggs per hen per year), low growth, good adaptation to climatic and sanitary conditions and low feed requirements.

Intensive poultry farming uses selected breeds (hybrids) obtained by specialists in avian genetics. These breeds are high-yielding (300 eggs per hen per year) and grow quickly; they are sensitive to stress and diseases and demand a healthy balanced diet and a comfortable environment.

In the Sahelian context, bearing in mind the specific constraints - extreme heat, low level of feeding, limited financial resources - it can sometimes be more advantageous to use breeds which are a little less productive than others but are more resistant to the environmental conditions prevailing in that region.

Advice in choosing a breed

- Approach local hatchers or, failing this, representatives of breed suppliers in order to obtain precise information about technical performance, sensitivity to disease, ability to adapt, price and delivery periods.

- Make sure that the local hatchery supplying day-old chicks from the breed you consider most attractive has a good reputation.

The reliability and knowhow of the parent-stock breeder and the hatcher are more important than the breed in ensuring excellent quality chicks.

- If you are considering importing day-old chicks, find out beforehand all the sanitary and administrative requirements which must be fulfilled. When the chicks arrive, make arrangements to forward them in good order and as quickly as possible to the rearing site.

Consult the travelling technicians employed by breed suppliers, who can give you wise counsel about the most appropriate breed for your circumstances. We should point out that most breed suppliers publish manuals on poultry rearing and feeding which they kindly make available to farmers. These manuals are a mine of practical information which is essential to the proper running of a poultry farm.




1.3. Criteria for assessing productivity in poultry farming

Intensive poultry farming uses different criteria for assessing productivity.


This may be expressed in average weight at a given age (in days or weeks), e.g. 1,700g at 63 days or 9 weeks.

Example: if average weight at 50 days is 1565g the ADG is 1565/50 or 31.3g per day (ADG = average daily gain).

Laying rate

Equals the number of eggs gathered per 100 laying hens.

Example: lot of 200 laying hens. 146 eggs gathered: laying rate is: 146 x 200/100 i.e. 73%.

Mortality rate

Equals the number of individuals dying when starting with 100 individuals.

Example: lot starting with 450 individuals, 400 remaining at 21 weeks. Mortality at 21 weeks is thus: (450-400) x 100/450 i.e. 11.1%.

The feed conversion rate (FCR for short)

- During the growth period (broiler or pullet).

This may be expressed in total amount of food consumed divided by the total weight of the stock, e.g.: a lot of 2,000 pullets consumes 7,300 kg of feed to reach a total weight of 3080 kg. The FCR is thus 7300/3080 i.e. 2.37.

It may be expressed by average feed consumption divided by the average weight of the stock, e.g. taking the preceding data, one may obtain 7300/2000 i.e. 3.65 kg average consumption and 3080/2000, i.e. 1.54 average weight. The FCR is thus 3.65/1.54 i.e. 2.37.

- During the laying period (layer or breeding stock).

This is expressed in quantity of feed consumed divided per dozen eggs gathered, e.g.: a lot of 450 hens lays 320 eggs and consumes 56 kg of feed. The FCR is 56/26.6 i.e. 2.1.

Fertility and hatching rates

These two parameters only apply to the rearing of breeding stock.

The fertility rate represents the number of fertile eggs per 100 eggs gathered. It gives an indication of the fertility of the breeding stock.

The hatching rate represents the number of chicks hatching per 100 eggs incubated. It gives an indication of the performance of the hatchery.