Poultry Farming: Poultry Housing and Equipment
The need for a Poultry Housing:- a) Protection from other climatic extremes such as direct sun, wind, rain and even against theft and attack from natural enemies of the birds such as, fox, dog, cat, kite, snake, etc. The birds also should be protected against external parasites like ticks, lice, mice, etc.
b) Comfort: The best egg production is secured from birds that are comfortable and happy. To be comfortable, a house must provide adequate accommodation, be reasonably cool in the hot weather, free from drafts and sufficiently warm during the cool weather. Above all, provide adequate supply of fresh air and sunshine; and remain dry always. c) Provision of dry condition which are hygienic and do not predispose the birds to diseases and parasites. d) Allowing, as far as possible, for inherent behavior patterns of the birds, and minimizing the effect of social dominance. e) Convenience: The house should be located at a convenient place, and the equipment so arranged as to allow cleaning and other necessary operation as required. f) Provision of accessible food and clean water and for effective disposal of waste. g) Providing condition so that good stockmanship can be practiced.
Location of Poultry Housing
In planning a poultry house, the location should be taken into consideration. In selecting site for poultry houses, the following factors should be considered:
- Relation to other Buildings:- The poultry house should not be close to the home as too create unsanitary condition. On the other hand, it should not be too far away either because this will require more time in going to and fro in caring for the birds. In general, at least three trips should be made daily to the poultry house in feeding, watering, gathering the eggs.
- Exposure:- The poultry house should face south or east in most localities. A southern exposure permits more sunlight in the house than any of the other possible exposures. An eastern exposure is almost as good as a southern one. Birds prefer morning sunlight to that of the afternoon. The birds are more active in the morning and will spend more time in the sunlight.
- Soil and Drainage:- If possible, the poultry house should be placed on a sloping hillside rather than a hilltop or in the bottom of a valley. A sloping hillside provides good drainage and affords some protection.
Poultry Farming: Poultry Housing and Equipment The type of soil is also very important if the birds are to be given a range. A fertile well drained soil is desired. This will be a sandy loam rather then a heavy clay soil. A fertile soil will grow good vegetation which is one of the main reason for providing range. If poultry house is located on flat poorly drained soil, the yards should be tiled, otherwise, the birds should be kept in total confinement.
- Shade and Protection:- Shade and protection of the poultry house are just as desirable as for the house. Trees serve as a Windbreak in the rainy season and for shade in the dry season. They should be tall, and not very close to the soil. Dwarf tree can become contaminated, makes the soil damp and prevent sunlight from reaching the soil to destroy the germs. One thing a farmer should note is that plenty of sunshine should be available at the site.
(1) Floor Space: The smaller the house, the more square feet are required for each hen. Bigger pens have more actual usable floor space per bird than smaller pens. The recommendations suggested below might be useful regarding floor, feeders and watering space. For economic production of laying hens, it is always better to keep them in small unit of 15-25 birds. This number can go up to a maximum limit of 250 or so are advisable. When there is a long house, partitioning at every unit should be made to eliminate drafts etc.
Table 1: Floor space requirement per bird
|No.||Age (weeks)||Floor space per birds(Cm2)|
Table 2: Feeder space requirement per bird
|No.||Age (weeks)||Feeder space per birds(linear Cm)|
|4||13 and above||10.0|
Table 3: Amount of water required and watering space for chicken
|Age (weeks)||Water space per chick(linear cm)||Amount of water per 1000 birds (liters)|
|16 and above||15cm||45-48|
(2) Ventilation: Ventilation in the poultry house is necessary to provide the birds with fresh air and to carry off moisture. Since the fowl is a small animal with a rapid metabolism, its air requirements per unit of the body is high in comparison with that of other animals. A hen weighing 2kg and on full feed, produces about 52 litres of CO2 every 24 hours. Since CO2 content of expired air is about 3.5%, total air breathed amounts to 0.5 litre per kg live weight per minute. A house that is well tall enough for the attendant to move around comfortably will supply far more air space than will be required by the birds that can be accommodated in the given floor space.
Poultry Farming: Poultry Housing and Equipment
(3) Temperature: Hens needs a moderate temperature of 50-70oF. Birds need a warmer temperature at night, then they are inactive, than during the day. The use of insulation with straw pack or other materials not only keeps the house warmer during the rainy seasons, but also cooler during the dry seasons. Cross ventilation also aids in keeping the house comfortable during hot weather.
(4) Dryness: Absolute dry conditions inside a poultry house is always an ideal condition. Dampness causes discomfort to the birds and also gives rise to diseases like colds, pneumonia. Dampness in poultry house is caused by:- (a) Moisture rising through the floor, (b) leaky roofs or wall, (c) Rain or snow entering through the windows, (d) leaky water containers, (e) Exhalation of birds.
(5) Light: Daylight in the house is desirable for the comfort of the birds. They seem more contented on bright sunny days than in dark, cloudy weather. Sunlight in the poultry house is desirable not only because of the destruction of disease and germs, it also for supplying vitamin D; but also because, it brightens the house and makes the birds happy. Birds do fairly well when kept under artificial light.
(6) Sanitation: The worst enemies of the birds, i.e. lice, ticks, fleas, and mites are abundant in poultry houses. They do not only transmit diseases, but also retard growth and laying capacity. The design of the house should be such which admits easy cleaning and spraying. There should be minimum cracks and crevices. Angle irons for the frames and cement asbestos or metal sheets for the roof and walls are ideal construction materials, as they permit effective disinfection of the house. When the wood is to be used, every piece should be treated with coaltar, creosote or any other similar insecticides before being fitted. Used engine oil mixed with wood treatment chemicals can also serve as a good alternative.
Types of Roofs for a Poultry House
There are several styles of poultry house with reference to types of roofs:- 1) SHED Types:- This is the simplest type of poultry house and by far the most useful and practical type of house that can be used under different climatic conditions and for different systems of poultry keeping. The slope of the roof needs only be slight in the plains, while in heavy rainfall, it ought to be sufficiently steep. The shed-roof types of houses may be either portable or stationary. The portable house in generally a small one, not exceeding 8×6 inches while the stationary types can be made of any dimensions.
2) GABLE ROOF TYPE:- This type requires more material and labour for construction. Some poultry farmers put a ceiling floor in gable roof houses and use the space in the gable for storage. The type is more suitable in rainfall areas. Here, again, gable type may be stationary or portable.
3) Combination:- Such houses have double pitch roofs in which the ridge between the two slopes is not mid way from front to back. Most of the gable type, the combination roof requires more materials and labour than the shed roof.
- Roofs: in most African countries, cement- asbestos sheeting although, very satisfactory and durable is expensive, yet, it is still recommended if the farmer has the capital. Conjugated iron and zinc sheets are equally satisfactory, but the cost is lower than cement asbestos. You can ceil the house with zinc sheets.
- Door:- The door of the poultry house must be on the south, and made of an angle iron frame covered with ½ “ mesh Wire netting. The size of the room should be always large enough to allow a man to conveniently pass through.
- Windows:– About one meter block work is recommended as the normal height and the remaining upper part of the wall would be walls to the pillar post. Remember to make the roof overhang at least 18-36 inches out from the wall to cut down radiation through the window opening.
Poultry Farming: Poultry Housing and Equipment
Poultry House Equipment
The poultry house should be equipped with roasts, nests, feed hoppers, water containers and any other items which is essential for satisfactory production.
- It should be simple in construction
- Easily Cleaned
- Easily disinfected whenever necessary
- Perches or Roosts: Chickens start roosting when they are 8weeks old. Apart from catering for the natural instinct or desire of the chickens to get above the ground at night, perches help materially to keep the bird’s feet and plumage clean. Perches can be made from long wooden bars of two squares inches about rounded at the top and flat at the bottom. Fix these parches about 16 inches above the ground and near the walls In such a way that they can be removed for disinfection. Allow a space of 12-inches between two perches. Each bird will need about 8-inches of the perch to roost. The rear perches should rest a little higher than those at the front if they are arrange to be horizontal with the length of the house. This will encourage some of the birds that like to roost high to go to the back perches. Paint the perches occasionally with creosote to prevent insects.
- NEST BOXES:- Each pen of laying birds should be provided with nest boxes for laying eggs. It should be roomy, movable, cool and well ventilated, dark and conveniently located. Nests are usually constructed 14 inches square, 6 inches deep and about 15 inches head allowance. All metal nests are preferred to wood nests because of easy cleaning and less chance of becoming infested with mites. Empty kerosene tins make excellent boxes. One nest should be provided for every five or six hens. Dark nest are desirable because they result in less scratching in the nest, less egg breakage and less egg eating. A wooden packing case 18 inches square or a wide mouthed earthen pot can be a suitable nest. Place some sand or soft hay or straw inside. Nests sometimes are also placed inside a run but in that case, care should be taken to prevent crows etc, by covering the top of the run with wire netting.
- TRAPNESTS:- Each nest is provided with a trap door so that when the poultry attendant releases the hen from the nest, he/she can identify her and mark her leg-band number on the egg. There should be one nest for every three or four birds. Trapnests differ from regular nests in that they are provided with trap doors by which birds shout themselves in when they enter. For the convenience of the poultry attendant, the nests should be placed 18-20 inches above the floor. Trapnests are needed in the poultry houses (Deep litter houses) interested n knowing the performance or breeding of the hens.
- FEED HOPPERS:- The essential features of satisfactory feed hoppers are that they;
- Avoid wastage of feed
- Prevent the birds from getting their feet into the feed and from roosting on the hopper
- Are easy to clean
- Make it easy for the birds to eat from the bottom of the hopper Troughs, pots and pans used for feeding should be of suitable size depending on the age and size of the birds.
- Watering Devices:- An ample supply of water should be made available at all times or egg production is liable to be affected. The water container should contain clean water, kept cool in dry seasons and be easily cleaned because contaminated water tends to spread certain diseases from chicken to chicken. Different designs of water containers (mostly plastic containers) satisfying the above needs can be provided.
- HOVERS:- This is a heat providing unit. It is made up of pan or Terpaulin. Brooder unit are maintained with a range of temperature selections for hatchlings. At the warmest, usually the center of the unit, the temperature is maintained at or above 90oF. At the outer edges, the temperature may be as low as 60oF. As the young birds grow; the peak temperature is gradually reduced to about 70oF. Hovers are often used until the birds have reached 4-6weeks of age.