Broilers are meat chickens created to eat voraciously and grow very fast within a short period of time and leads to an increase in their demand among poultry farmers and consumers. However, every chicken breed has its own ' Achilles heel' and broiler chicken is no exception.
Female and male broiler (7 weeks old)
Some of the major problems associated with broilers are docility, not being 'hard', and being overweight (as a result of rapid growth ), which make them prone to other complications like leg problems, heart failure, and diseases. Thus, raising broiler requires a different approach for a successful and profitable production.
Besides the rewarding commercial intent of raising broiler, you can also raise broiler chicken for your personal or family consumption.
However, raising broiler chicken is not always a smooth ride. I can still remember when I started raising broiler chicken at our backyard farm, in the late 1990s, in Benin City, Nigeria.
My four broiler chickens were exceptional; there were my pride and the wish of my visitors. The first few years were fruitful, and will always have enough meat for any feast or celebration.
Subsequently, after a few years of bliss, my broilers started dying due to some terrible disease that later ravaged the whole flock. It was a heartbreaking experience, to say the least. As a result of this, I developed the interest to seek answers, knowledge, and skills in poultry farming and in turn share the same with other poultry farmers, especially beginners.
Ok, enough of the talk.
So, in this post, you are going to learn how to raise your broiler chicken from day one till maturity with little or no mortality. Not only that, as a bonus, you are going to also learn some secrets on how to market and sell your broilers profitably.
So sit back and get a pen and paper, possibly get yourself a drink or something to keep your mouth busy because this post is going to be quite long and interesting.
1.Buying healthy and quality chick
2.Housing and required space
3.How to brood your broiler chick
i. Setting up your brooder
ii. Things to do before your chicks arrive
III. Things to do after your chicks arrived
4. 5 Best management practices for raising successful broiler chickens-FLAWS
6.How to market and sell your broilers profitably
The rate of your success in poultry farming will be determined by the quality of your chicks. In order words, if you buy unhealthy chicks the chance of you succeeding will be very slim. Take note of the following;
Also, be aware of dishonest vendors or suppliers. Make sure your supplier is trustworthy. Ask experienced farmers for direction or advice on where to buy quality chicks.
You can order your quality chicks @Afrimash. Their logistics and customer services are satisfactory.
Examples of some popular breeds in Nigeria are Cobb 500, Ross 308, Arbor Acre +, Hubbard, and are marked by Zartech, Agrited, CHI, and Fidan respectively.
My chicks after one week: More space was needed so i have to expand it
Let assume you have decided the number of chicks (say 100 chicks), the next step is to determine the housing and required space.
There are two types of housing systems for keeping chickens; Cage and deep litter systems.
Usually, the deep litter system is more suitable for rearing broiler chickens.
The deep litter system is just an open space structure, which runs from sidewall to sidewall. The roof and side structures are usually supported by wood or steel poles.
The most important factors you have to consider while constructing your broiler house area space and ventilation. There should be cross ventilation between the side walls.
Also, make provision for ventilation control both in cold and hot weather conditions. It is ideal to hang something like a curtain (tarpaulin) outside the pen that can be used to adjust the ventilation at extreme temperatures.
The floor of a broiler house is usually made of concrete floor that is covered with various types of bedding materials. You can use wood shavings, rice hulls, sand, peanut hulls, etc.
My empty pen ( deep litter) ; Is about 15 x 9 .sq. ft
The floor space requirement for broilers varies depending on their body weight at that time.
For adult birds, the average minimum and maximum space for broiler chicken are 1.5 sq ft and 2.5 sq ft respectively. While for chicks is 0.5 sq ft and 1 sq ft.
Putting everything into consideration, we also have to consider the space requirement for feeders and drinkers.
The feeder and drinker space also varies depending on the environmental temperature and health condition of the birds. The table below contains the approximate floor, feeder, and drinker space requirement for broilers
Up to 18 days
From 19 days to 42 days
( 1.1 .sq.ft)
1 bird = 1.1 sq.ft.
100 birds = 100x 1.1/1 =110.Sq.ft
The total space = = 110. Sq.ft
Therefore, 100 broilers will need a space of 110.Sq.ft. till 42 days (6 weeks)
After considering the structure and the required space, the next step is to prepare for brooding
Brooding simply means the application of heat to the birds at an early part of their life. This is what the mother hen does for her chicks for the first few weeks until they begin to grow out feathers at 2-3 weeks of age.
Therefore, during brooding, you have to play the role of a mother hen by providing heat, feed, water, and shelter.
As the old-timers could say, that a well-brooded chick is a half-grown chick. The first 7 days in brooding is a critical stage in a chick’s life. The first 7 days' weight is a determining factor for a well-brooded chick.
Poor brooding will deprive your chick of its genetic growth potential.
My last batch of brooders; each contained 50 broilers chicks. Under the newspaper is wood shavings which replaced the newspaper after the chicks were able to differentiate the feed from the wood shavings.
To start brooding your broiler chicks, first, you have to set up your brooder.
A brooder is a place where you move your chickens after arrival ( or hatching). Here, they will spend a lot of time being fed, watered, loved on, and of course, being kept safe and warm.
One big feature of a brooder is a heat source to regulate body temperature. The source of heat can be a light bulb, charcoal burner, gas burner, Lamp, etc.
The heat should be evenly distributed around the brooder. The heat should not be too hot to cause overheating, or too small to cause a chill. Overheating and cold (chill) are one of the major causes of chick mortality.
There are two ways to monitor the brooder temperature to avoid overheating or insufficient heat that could be detrimental to your chicks
it is highly imperative to have a room thermometer inside the brooding pen or house, used for monitoring the temperature inside the brooding house.
With the room thermometer, you will know if the temperature within the brooding house is cold, moderate, or high, although, In reality, most people follow the cluster rule:
If your chicks are clustered all under the lamp, it’s too cool, and if your chicks are all clustered around the edge of the brooder, it’s too warm. Optimally, they should be evenly spread throughout the brooder.
Illustration of the cluster rule
Temperature control is the most critical factor during brooding.
A chick that feels too cold can limit its activity to prevent heat loss and conserve energy, and feed is used as fuel for heating rather than as protein and energy for growth.
Similarly, extreme hot surroundings can result in a waste of energy since an overheated chick can begin panting to induce eliminate the surplus heat. Consequently, this will negatively affect the overall performance of your bird irrespective of your later actions.
The ideal temperatures for chicks after they arrive are 30-32° C for the litter, 32-33° C for the air, and a minimum of 28° C for the concrete.
The litter and concrete temperatures are important since the feet of the chicks are the part of their body from where they have a tendency to lose most of their heat.
For general temperature for your broiler chicks, see the table below
|Age||The temperature range in °C||The temperature range in °F|
|Day 1 - 7||30-33||87-92|
|Day 7 -14||28-31||83-88|
Make sure you record their day one weight, to enable you to monitor your broiler expected weight as the week progresses
Heat up your pen, and provide food and water containing glucose or electrolyte to ease off the stress
For more details on brooding broiler chicks click here
Next, are the best management practices for raising healthy broiler chickens-
There are five key areas you must look into on a daily basis in your broiler flock if you want to succeed in this venture. They are regarded as the best five management practices for poultry farming. They are; feeding, lighting, Airflow, Water, and sanitation/bio-security. (FLAWS)
In each area, we are going to look at some crucial activities you need to consider at the various ages of your chicks -Starting from day one to slaughtering age.
Forms of poultry feed textures
From the left is; Mash feed, crumble feed, and pellet feed
Broilers are growing machines; they can double their size in just days. So, you will be buying a lot of feed as 70% percent of your expenses will be on the feed.
Feeding is a key aspect of learning how to raise your broiler chicken successfully and make sure you give your birds the best quality feed properly.
To feed your broiler to meet the target weight, you have to consider the age of the bird and the nutritional content of the food.
Basically, broilers are given three types of feeds till they are ready for slaughter. They are starters, growers, and finishers. They are all formulated with the same feed ingredients but differ in quantities.
The starter is given for 2-3 weeks, a grower from 3-4 weeks, and a finisher from the 4th week till slaughter. You can mix the starter and grower together for a few days to ease the changeover shock.
Although, the time of feed change differs slightly for individuals. For some, they might include pre-starter, while some may exclude grower. It all depends on what works for them.
Me personally, I don’t use grower. I give them starter from week 1 to week 4, and finisher from week 5 till slaughter.
Due to their fast-growing nature, broilers are usually faced with overweight complications such as leg problems, and heart failure, etc.
Therefore, it is important you practice feed control. It is recommended you feed them ad libitum (morning and night) for the first 5-7days to meet the first 7 days weight target.
After the first 7 days, you will start removing their feeders for12 hours each day, keeping the feed available for the other 12 hours. Continue this schedule until slaughtering time.
Tip: Remove the feeders when the weather is hot and give them a lot of fresh water and other treats like vegetables and fruits. This will give them time to assimilate their food, exercise, and even make your broilers eat more
For feed efficiency and management, it is necessary you feed your broiler chicken the correct quantity of feed per day for optimal performance.
To know the right quantity of feed to feed your broiler per day, click here for the table and chart
Ensure your pen is bright enough to help your chicks feed and drink properly
The level and duration of light are important factors in poultry production. Light Intensity along with water and feed intake has an effect on cannibalism and aggression. Besides light intensity and duration, another source has shown that the color of light also affects chickens’ behavior and growth.
For example, blue light is responsible for idling, sleeping. Reduced cannibalism, increase muscular growth among elderly birds, while green light is responsive for drinking, dusting bathing, muscle growth for your chicken.
On the contrary, red light induces walking, flying, head movement, leg stretching, reproduction, flapping, and some sort of aggressiveness. In addition, UV light, at the infantry stage, has been shown to improve walking, fear factor, and overall awareness.
So, the essence of this discovery is that you can actually maneuver the light intensity, duration, and color to influence the overall performance of your broiler chicken.
One of the areas you can apply this is in controlling cannibalism at the first few weeks where they have not fully grow out feathers. The high light intensity can expose the vent of your broilers, and as curious as chicken they will always want to peck on it because chicken is naturally attracted to red.
This will eventually trigger cannibalism, so reducing the brightness or using colored light like a green bulb that reduces cannibalism will go a long way in preventing such behavior.
The same technique should be applied if your chickens are not feeding or acting well i.e by using a bright red light ( UV light for chicks) to encourage feeding and alertness.
However, research has shown that continuous lighting can cause growth complications (leg paralysis) and stress in broiler chickens. In addition, it has been proven that intermittent light program has a more positive impact on weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) than the continuous light program.
However, I know not every farmer can afford such resources for a lighting program, but there are still some ideals you can still apply in your small flock.
Just make sure the light is evenly distributed and bright enough for them to feed properly.
Nevertheless, for commercial broiler farming, there are different lighting programs available for optimal performance.
An open-sided poultry house is suited for broilers for proper ventilation
Airflow/ventilation is another crucial factor you need to consider on how to raise broiler chicken successfully.
When discussing housing, we mentioned reasons for having a well-ventilated pen. Poor ventilation will increase the chances of infection in the pen.
Make sure the vents are adequate for the stock density and weight.
Ensure uniform airflow through all pens by using an equal number of inlets open to enable proper cross ventilation.
Overstocking will reduce the effectiveness of the vents, which can easily lead to the spread of diseases like respiratory diseases ( like coughing and sneezing ) usually triggered by ammonia gas in their poop.
So, it is also necessary you clean up your pen regularly to avoid ammonia buildup. Once you cannot stay in their pen for about 30 minutes due to the harsh smell from their poop, know that sanitation is long overdue.
The water they say is life. Don't ever deprive your broiler of clean fresh water. Water stimulates broilers' growth and weight gain.
Note the following points below;
When it comes to learning how to raise broiler chickens, sanitation should be a daily activity and should not be neglected as this will help keep diseases at bay and minimize expenditure on drugs.
Your bedding should be dry and clean always
Sanitation and bio-security are all about the health safety of your birds and how you can achieve it, attain optimal performance, and provide assurance on food safety issues.
The two ways diseases are introduced in our chicken house are through humans and animals.
Flow the below tips on how to prevent them
Farm Visitor sanitizing boot before entering the poultry house
How could you feel after raising your broiler chickens and you can hardly sell them profitably? You will feel disappointed, and discouraged. I am sure you don’t want, so pay attention to these marketing tips.
After learning how to raise broiler chicken and you can hardly sell your chickens, how could you feel? I guess your answer is good as mine.
Marketing and selling have been a perpetual problem faced by some poultry farmers, especially those who do it occasionally. Some find it difficult to break even, while those that succeeded in selling will make little or no gain after several weeks of sleepless night and hard work.
One common mistake I observed among such farmers is the error of putting production before marketing. Generally, to make a good profit in poultry farming, it is advisable to sell to the consumer directly, but this is hardly possible if you don’t make plans for it.
My colleague and I during the 2020, December market survey
One way to do this perfectly is to locate your potential market and customer and strike a deal with them before production (Before buying your birds). In this way, you will be more determined to meet their expectations.
Try as much as possible to sell more of your birds to direct consumers than to off-takers (middlemen). These off-takers are there to milk you of chunk profit.
However, they have proven ways to market and sell your broiler chickens very fast that have proven to work.
The two skills you need to pull this through are; knowledge of products/marketing and confidence/boldness. Having general knowledge about chickens helps to facilitate negotiation with your potential customers.
Knowledge of types of chicken breeds, their unique characteristics, nutritional qualities, etc, will help you sell your chicken faster. But then you need to speak convincingly, this is where confidence comes in, I know it's not easy but you have to try.
Don't allow the fear of rejection to limit you. If Mr. A rejects you try Mr.B and so on... Until you exhaust all your options.
"Packaging" also helps to build up your confidence and impress your potential customers-dressing well, having a business card, customized T-shirt /caps, Calendars, etc have proven to facilitate sales. You can also offer to deliver services too- go cooperate!
Don’t fail to read my article on ‘’ 10 ways to market and sell your broiler chickens fast. Make sure you apply every tip given in the article.
Mature male broiler
In this post so far we have learned in detail how to raise broiler chicken profitably.
Some of the main highlights include selecting quality chicks, brooding ( with emphasis on required temperature), Best management practices (F.L.A.W.), vaccination/medication, and marketing and selling.
Make sure you keep a poultry farm record of your daily activities for feature reference.
Poultry farming is no doubt a profitable business, and broiler farming is the fastest way to get your return on investment in the chicken business.
I believed you have learned something from this article “how to raise broiler chicken profitably” And I wish you successful poultry farming as you implement all that you have learned.
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