Eggs are a fundamental part of the human diet. They are eaten not only as stand-alone items, they are also utilized in countless baked goods and other foods. The near-limitless need for eggs by the growing world population makes egg farming an intriguing option for many farmers, and even for some who don’t farm at all. If this vocation has caught your attention, follow these steps to ensure that your enterprise is a success.
It is critical to understand that poultry production of any kind carries unique conditions. Because the birds live in close quarters, any disease issue that emerges will quickly spread throughout the flock. Undetected, such an event could quickly prove fatal for all the birds. Laying chickens are also highly responsive to sunlight exposure, so an appropriate strategy for managing light is also necessary.
Before you purchase the first chicken, educate yourself about not just animal health but also about production practices. Previous experience with other livestock helps, but chickens are quite different from sheep, cattle, horses, and other farm animals. Be sure you have a good base of technical knowledge before proceeding.
People who know almost nothing about egg production will at least know that it takes a coop or barn of some kind. Of course, in a large operation, the facilities are a major issue. They should have adequate light and ventilation, as well as sufficient space for the number of laying animals you will have. It should also allow easy, clean provision of food and water, and it should be designed for efficient waste removal and safe movement of workers to collect eggs.
Large numbers of laying animals mean time is of the essence, so facilities must be planned with efficient movement in mind. Be sure you also take into account issues of fire prevention and flood avoidance.
Select a Breed:
As with any animal, breeds of chickens have various advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right one will make your products better for your market, minimise health issues, increase feed efficiency, and improve your flock’s tolerance of the particular weather extremes in your area. The wrong choice will prove very costly in a short time, so spend adequate time researching the various options before committing to your first purchase of stock.
Check with neighbouring farms and see which breeds have performed well for them, and resist the temptation to go with a trendy or unusual breed. The most popular breeds have reached that status for a reason, so it’s usually best to go with the proven performers.
Develop a Feeding Program:
A hen can only produce in eggs what she receives in nutrition. If she does not receive adequate feed with the appropriate nutrients, she will sap nutrients from her own body until she is no longer productive.
Avoiding this requires development of an appropriate diet for your flock. This means sufficient levels of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The food must be properly stored, handled, and fed, with appropriate equipment to prevent contamination. There must also be an effective feeding schedule that ensures that food arrives on time.
Organize Work Functions:
In a home operation, the care of laying hens is less complicated simply because there are fewer animals. One person, even a child, can take care of daily feeding and collection of eggs.
As the operation becomes large, though, the workload changes. A commercial laying operation has all kinds of tasks that are all on a much larger scale, and they must be performed in a timely fashion. Feeding, watering, waste removal, egg collection, and temperature management are all vital to flock health and productivity, and if your farm crew is overwhelmed or understaffed, the production process will quickly suffer.
Get a good understanding of how the day’s tasks should be planned, and work with AgriLabour SA to get qualified workers.
Identify Strong Markets:
Any farm that starts production without a good marketing plan in place is headed for disaster, but when the product is a fragile, perishable good like eggs, the impact is even higher. Again, this is an area that should be nailed down prior to starting any production. You need to have a confirmed wholesale or retail outlets, as well as alternatives in place in case of a problem.
You should also have some backup storage and transport options in case of a backlog of product or other disruptions to your processes for moving the eggs off the farm. Make sure you understand the buyer’s requirements for quality, size, labeling, and packaging so that they will accept your shipments.
Once everything is in place, it’s time to pull the trigger. Purchase your hens, get your feed shipments in, place the animals, and get your crew to work. Keep good financial and production records; you can remember each hen’s production history when you only have a few, but when the numbers hit the thousands, you’ll have to track it on paper or electronically.
Be alert for those first-day problems, such as malfunctioning equipment, confused staff, and delivery delays. Be prepared to work around them to keep the eggs moving and the flock safe and healthy.
Make sure you’ve got a good schedule for yourself, too. Being in charge of a brand-new operation that involves thousands of hens living in very expensive buildings full of very expensive equipment. Planning is essential to making the operation work well, with a minimum of difficulties and the highest possible level of profitability.
Byron Simpson is a qualified business/finance writer expert in investment, debt, credit cards, Passive income, financial updates. He advises in his blog finance cent.