How to increase, maintain production of eggs
Though the initial capital requirement might be tasking and capital intensive, egg production is one of the most rewarding aspects of the poultry industry.
It is a sustainable source of income either at a small or large scale level.
Egg producing birds could be raised on the floor, and this is called deep liter system, and could be reared in cages, called battery system.
However, the cage system is more capital intensive than deep liter because of additional cost of cages.
Depending on the genetic composition of the breed, a healthy layer chicken can lay up to 250 eggs a year valued at about N7200.
Despite the proven record of sustainability and profitability, most farmers still groan over low egg production, high mortality and morbidity rates, as well as inability to sell eggs.
The Guardian has reliably gathered there are fundamental things that farmers must do to prevent low productivity, morbidity and mortality of the birds.
Buying chicks from reliable breeders
ONE of the most important factors in getting maximum egg production is buying day-old chicks or point-of-lay pullets from a reliable source with track record of business integrity.
This is to ensure all vaccines have been given at the appropriate times.
A source of birds also determines the breed, and breed variety is a strong factor in the number of eggs laid yearly.
Various breeds in Nigeria include NERA Black, Shika Brown, ISA Brown and Hi-Line Brown.
Some are more resistant to heat, while some are prolific layers than the others.
Therefore, a poultry farmer should get details about a particular breeder and breed before buying from such.
POULTRY vaccinations are given to prevent certain infections and diseases, and this, in the long run, determines productivity, morbidity, mortality and profitability of a set of birds.
Some of the vaccinations include Newcastle vaccine, Gumboro, egg drop syndrome vaccine, Coriza and Infectious Bursal vaccines.
Therefore, an intending poultry farmer should demand the vaccination record while buying point-of-lay birds, and should follow recommended vaccinations to pullets if raising the chicks personally is the choice.
EXCESSIVE heat is detrimental to the health and productivity of laying birds. It destabilises the equilibrium required to maximise egg production.
When the heat goes beyond the thermo-neutral zone, the bird converts its energy to cool its system, and such energy meant for egg formation is hence diverted and used as a coolant, resulting in smaller and fewer eggs.
If the heat goes below the thermo-neutral zone (excessive humidity), the bird equally uses its feeds to generate more heat to reach the equilibrium, therefore reducing the size and number of eggs produced by the flock.
The critical temperature for layers is 20°C. For every 1°C lower than 20°C, the birds require an extra 1.5 g of feed per day.
The most efficient temperatures for layers are between 20 and 24°C.
When temperatures rise above 24°C, shell quality and egg weight will reduce; feed intake will reduce and feed-egg conversion ratio will be negative.
So, efforts must be made to control heat and maintain or sustain optimum egg production level during the dry season.
Fans or forgers could be used in dry seasons, while heat-generating measures should be adopted to keep bird warm in cold weather conditions.
Feeding and Feeds materials
SOURCE of feeds is another very crucial factor in the productivity of birds.
At the start of lay, bird should take 0.25kg of feeds per day.
This implies that 100 birds would take 25kg feeds to have enough maintenance and egg production rations.
The nutritional contents of the feeds also include carbohydrate, protein, minerals and other micro-nutrients.
A balanced poultry diet is critical to optimum egg production. Feeds materials should be of highest standard, devoid of moist, moulds or degrading materials.
LIGHTING is crucial to excellent poultry production, especially egg laying birds.
One of the important aspects of egg production is duration of light stimulation. Two rules exist for this.
Never increase the duration or intensity of light during the growing period. Never decrease the duration or intensity of light during the production period.
Avian species respond to light energy in a variety of ways, including growth and reproductive performance.
The value of regulating the photoperiod of poultry and livestock to stimulate reproduction has been recognized for many years and is used regularly by commercial poultry and livestock farmers.
For chickens there are three major functions of light: to facilitate sight, to stimulate internal cycles due to day-length changes and to initiate hormone release.
Duration depends upon the age of the chicken and type of housing you use.
Chicks can be exposed to 21-23 hrs of continuous light at one and two days of age and then reduced to 15 or 16 hrs of light until the birds are three weeks of age.
Red light, research by Hi-Line has shown, produces more reproductive effects on layers 40 times other colour.
PLANNING of how to market the eggs is an essential part of a profitable poultry business.
Inadequate marketing plans and actions make selling at reasonable prices impossible.
Are you selling to restaurants, boarding schools, hotels, food vendors or civil servants in their offices?
You have to determine this and act. This guarantees selling fresh eggs and at good prices.
Consultation of vets
FARMERS’ self-help medication also affects birds’ health and productivity.
Veterinary doctors should always be consulted for accurate diagnosis and medication rather than trial by errors.
It is more economical and life saving for birds if vet attention is given at the appropriate time.