· Rearing several types of birds like chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, turkey for the commercial production of meat, egg, feather and manure (fertilizer) is called poultry farming.
· In Nepal, the poultry industry includes the culture of chickens for meat, eggs and fertilizer.
· Single Comb White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red and White Plymouth Rocks (Broilers) are commercially used breeds in Nepal. The first two breeds are good egg layers whereas the latter is raised for meat.

Various Steps in Poultry Farming

A. Selection of Breeds
· It is essential as different breeds have different egg-laying capacities and flesh production.
· Breeds should be selected according to environmental conditions and nutrient availability.
· In context to Nepal, the pullets (chicks) are the best species.
· They should grow very quickly and can produce 250 eggs/year minimum.

1. Layers or Egg Laying Types
· They have higher rates of egg production.
· Their body weight varies between 1 to 2 kg.
· They mature within 5-6 months.
· In Nepal, the Single Comb White Leghorn breed is the best breed. It can produce 210–250 eggs/year.

2. Broilers or Flesh Producing Types
· These are the hybrid breeds produced by crossing a white Cornish male and White Plymouth rock female. These are broilers.
· Broilers become ready for market in 42 days.
· They grow rapidly and their flesh is tender, palatable and delicious and can be cooked within a short time.
· Examples: Light Sussex, Orpington, Cornish, White Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire etc.

3. Dual Purpose Type
· Such breeds are used for both good egg laying and better flesh production.
· They generally mature at about 6-7 months.
· Examples: Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock, Australopes etc.

Production of eggs
· For the mating purpose, the appropriate ratio of males and females is 1:8 in commercial breeds.
· Females start laying eggs from the second day of mating.
· White leghorns lay about 210-250 eggs per year.
· The chickens for more than two years are not suitable for egg-laying.

B. Selection of Eggs
· Eggs selected for incubation should be without cracks and abnormalities.
· Besides, they should not be older than four days in summer and seven days in winter.

C. Incubation
· It is the process in which eggs are kept under proper conditions for growth and development.
· The eggs selected for incubation must be fertilized, thick-shelled, clean and without deformities (no cracks).
· It must not be more than ten days after the eggs are incubated in the incubation. These incubators are operated by electricity or kerosene oil. The inside temperature, air movement and humidity can be maintained according to the need in the incubator. The inside temperature should be 37°C ± 2°C.
· The eggs in the incubator should be turned 3–5 times a day, from the 1st day of incubation to hatching.
· The chicken hatches out after 21 days and are transferred to the brooders, where they are kept for 4 weeks.
· The cracked and dead embryos should be regularly picked out of the incubator.

D. Brooding
· It is the process of taking care and management given to newly hatched chicks in the first 4–6 weeks.
· The place where the chicks are placed for constant warming is called brooders.
· Brooders provide constant warmth to the growing pullets. Brooders can also be operated by electric current or kerosene oil.
· In villages, where electricity is not available, kerosene oil brooders are used. In commercial poultry farming, electric brooders are used.
· Dead pullets must be removed regularly.

E. Sex Identification
· It is the process of identification of the sex of the newly born chick.
· It is essential because males are usually selected for meat whereas females for egg-laying.
· It may be done either by manipulation of cloaca or by using the optical sexing instruments.

Rearing system (Methods of Bird Keeping)

· There are four types of rearing systems. They are:
(a) Free Range or Extensive System
· In this system, the chicken is let free during the day and kept in pens or dokos during the night.
· It is well-practised in villages by smallholders.

(b) Semi-intensive System
· In this system, the pullets are kept in small fencing land for pasture during the day and kept in pens during the night.
· It is popular in the village where plenty of open areas is available.

(c) Intensive System
· In this system, the pullets are raised indoors in a separate room.
· Feeding and all care required are supplied within the confined area.
· This system is appropriate in the place where there is a space problem or where the land is expensive.
· In this system, the chickens are well protected from predators. Hundreds of pullets are raised in this system.
· Small or large scale poultry farming is done by this system.
· It has two sub-types:
    (a) Cage or battery system
    (b) Deep litter system

(a) Cage or Battery System
· It is the latest system of poultry farming where the single chick is kept in separate cages throughout the rearing period.
· The cages maybe 2 or 3 tiers in poultry farming.
· It is very popular in urban areas where land is expensive and difficult to get.
Advantages of cage system:
i. Requires less space
ii. Unproductive/sick birds can be easily identified and separated (culling)
iii. Collection of eggs is very convenient.
iv. Droppings can be removed easily
v. Performance of individual bird can be recorded easily.
Disadvantages of cage system:
i. It is difficult to clean cages.
ii. More eggs are damaged.
iii. No enough space for birds to move.
iv. Chicken often is subjected to a disease called fatty liver syndrome characterized by a drop in egg-laying, enlargement of the liver and increase in the size of the body due to fat deposition.

(b) Deep litter system
· It is the most widely used system of rearing pullets in the world.
· In this system, pullets are kept in a common well-ventilated room with a floor covered with litter.
· The litter is made from chopped straw, sawdust, paddy or wheat husks (bhus), groundnut shells and dry leaves that absorb moisture. The litter keeps the floor dry and slightly warm.
· The damp litter should be replaced periodically by fresh and dry litter.

(d) Folding Unit System
· In this system, the pullets are kept in a small closed space and the site is changed every day ensuring the availability of new ground for pasturing.
· The cage is mobile and it is not practised in our country.

Housing of Birds
· Housing is essential as it protects birds from sunlight, hurricanes, rain, extreme cold, predators etc.
· It is easier to have daily care, periodical medical supervision and treatment. For good housing, a wide, spacious and open area should be selected along with proper sanitation and a good sewer system.
· Access to electricity connection is also required.
· The houses should have wide windows and no loopholes for the entry of predators like cats, snakes, foxes, mice, mongoose, civet cats etc.

Poultry Feed
· The balanced diet is essential for the healthy growth of chicken.
· The balanced diet and germ-free water should be provided to them.
· Balanced diet is made by mixing different ingredients like crushed grains (maize, wheat and rice), fish meal, cakes (groundnut, mustard), fibre meal (cereals, legumes), mineral salts and vitamins in different ratios
· The feeding utensil for birds is also essential such as feed hopper, hanging feed hopper, water turf, water fountain, feed turf etc.

Ingredients Layers Broilers
Grain pieces (maize, rice, wheat) 65% 70%
Dried fish 5% 5%
Fibre meal (cereals, legumes) 8% 5%
Cakes and bran 15% 18%
Bone pieces and oyster shell 5%
Salts (Fe, Na, Mg, P) and vitamins (A, B, D, K) 2% 2%

· It is the process of eliminating sick or any type of undesirable birds.
· It must be done periodically to have a healthy stock and quick elimination of spreading of diseases.

· Sometimes, poultry birds may suffer from a variety of diseases.
· It includes fowl pox, fowl cholera, Ranikhet (new castle diseases), Aspergillosis, Bird flu, Coccidiosis, etc.
· Good management, proper housing and nutrition, timely vaccination, removal of over-crowded and ill-ventilated farms and immediate removal of sick or dead birds are some preventive measures.

Economic Importance of Poultry Farming

Economy Generation
· Poultry farming is considered more profitable than livestock farming/raising.
· It requires less space, is easy to manage and maintain and brings fast return.
· The poultry birds are easy to raise and are prolific breeders.
· It is the regular source of income by selling meat and eggs.
· Poultry birds are easy to maintain as they can be acclimatized to a variety of climatic conditions.
· Besides, the initial investment is less and easy to get into and to get out of this business.

· Poultry farming solves the problem of unemployment to some level.
· It provides partial or full-time employment to the family members.
· Even children, women or old family members can be involved.

· Generally down feathers are used for making quilts, pillows, jackets, badminton cocks, sleeping bags etc.

· Droppings of pullets can be utilized as manure in the field.
· It is considered as the best manure for the maximum production of crop plants (yield).
· Instead of this, manure is also a source of income.

· Certain breeds of chicken are also used for recreation.
· Cock fighting and fancy chicken show have been popular since ancient times.

· Poultry and poultry products form a rich source of animal protein and other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
· Eggs and meat are good food for non-vegetarians.
· Egg eating can be helpful in removing protein malnutrition among the children in our country.
· Besides, the flesh of poultry is tender, palatable and takes less time to cook evenly.
· Several agro by-products like rice- bran, wheat- bran, oilseed can be used as a food for poultry.

Also, Read our other Notes on the Application of Biology:

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