Having adequate knowledge on how to start a layer farm is the first step in ensuring profitability. Raising egg-laying poultry birds for the purpose of commercial egg production is what layers poultry farming is about.
Layer chickens are such a special species of hens, which need to be raised from when they are one day old. They start laying eggs commercially from 18-19 weeks of age. They continue laying eggs continuously till their 72-78 weeks of age. They can produce about one kg of eggs by consuming about 2.25 kg of food during their egg-laying period.
According to the nature and colour of the egg, layer hens are of two types. Short descriptions of these two types are listed below.
White Egg-Laying Hens
This type of hens is comparatively smaller in size. they eat less food, and the colour of the eggshell is white. Isa White, Lehman White, Nikchik, Bab Cock BV-300, Harvard White, Hi Sex White, Sever White, Hi-line White, Bovanch White etc. are some popular white egg-laying chickens.
Brown Egg-Laying Hens
Brown egg-laying hens are s larger in size. They eat more food, compared to white egg layers. Lay bigger eggs than other laying breeds. The eggshell is brown coloured. There are many types of brown layer available. Among those Isa Brown, Hi Sex Brown, Sever 579, Lehman Brown, Hi Line Brown, Bab Cock BV-380, Gold Line, Bablona Tetro, Bablona Harko, Havard Brown etc. are very suitable for the commercial layer.
In this case, you have to select those breeds which are suitable for your layer poultry farming business and can produce well in your area.
The common breeds of chickens in Nigeria are Isa Brown, Arbor Acres, Marshall, Ross, Kuroilers, White Cockerel, and a Black cockerel. Always ask about the breed you are buying as well as the peculiarity of the breed.
For commercial eggs production, read below before selecting your breed; *Choose highly productive laying hens correctly.
- All type of hens does not produce equal numbers of eggs.
- The chosen breeds must have good production capability.
If your chosen breed contains the desired characteristic and has a reputation for egg production, then that breed is suitable for your business.
To set up a layer farm, the following steps must be taken;
The housing system is very important for rearing layers and effective keeping and management. As a new person to Livestock business, you don’t want to invest all your capital into buying lands in an urban area which may turn out not being used because government policy is against setting up poultry farm near residential/urban areas for health implication.
Battery cages are the best housing cages for laying birds because it creates comfort and stability for them.
With a location in mind, you now have a clearer idea of the capital required of you. Write down your detailed capital and investment requirements for your poultry farming in Nigeria venture and set out to source for it.
Like every other farming projects, the bigger you plan to start, the more investment required. You need to decide on the level of capital investment you are willing to commit to this business before starting.
Look for good Hatchery where you can get healthy day-old chicks to start with.
Feeds and Water Management
You can buy feed from your local market or make the feed at your own house. You can just make sure the one bought or made is enriched with protein and mineral which are very essential for laying hens.
- Give them at least 2% calcium for 2weeks after birth
- Feed them with starter feed for 8weeks
- Serve them two or three times daily till they are 18weeks old
- Serve them layer poultry feed according to their age and weight
- Don’t decrease their feed while laying (even if their weight increase)
- Provide adequate water according to the demand of your laying hens (supply cold water during hot weather, and lukewarm water in cold weather)
This makes your hen disease resistance. It helps to keep them free from infections and reduce the mortality rate. But before vaccination, take note that you don’t need to vaccinate ill hen anymore (separate ill birds to avoid spreading) and make sure vaccination equipment is washed with hot boiled water or antiseptic/germicide. Here are the vaccines that can be given to layer hens. Marex, Gamboro, Salmonella etc.
Note that an average healthy Layer lays eggs almost every day or at least 4 times a week. This means that technically a Layer is capable of producing another chicken twice in three days.
- Within the first 20 weeks of age, about 5% of hens start laying eggs and can lay as much as 325 eggs in a year
- About 10% of birds start laying at their 21 weeks of age
- When they reach 26 to 30 weeks of age, they produce highly. Although, it may be different depending on their strain
- After laying a maximum number of eggs, they usually stop laying for a few days
- And after this period, their egg production might reduce slowly
- Egg-laying rate and size of eggs increase gradually
- The hens grow till their 40 weeks of age
- Weight and size of eggs increase till their 50 weeks of age.
Marketing involves a range of prices, depending on the different sizes of egg, different brands, or other differences which attract particular buyers. In the home and shop situation, it is best to store them at normal refrigerator temperature.