Cover Image
close this bookThe Intensive Poultry Farming Industry in the Sahelian Zone (CDI, 1996, 56 p.)
close this folder1.2. General information on intensive poultry farming
View the document1.2.1. What is intensive poultry farming?
View the document1.2.2. Poultry - a living machine
View the document1.2.3. Choice of breed

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.