Poultry Farming In South Africa, How To Start

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Poultry Farming In South Africa

Introduction to Poultry farming in South Africa: Poultry farming is defined as an activity that raises many species of domestic birds for food production like eggs and meat. With a subtropical climate, South Africa is ideal for farming with crops, livestock, and poultry. Deciding on the right breed of poultry that suits your needs for the success of your farming business.

Starting a poultry farming business in South Africa is a very lucrative project. Demand for poultry is very high in South Africa, exceeding 2 million tons per year. In South Africa, the per capita consumption of broiler chicken is higher than all other meats. This is because chicken is the cheapest source of animal protein in South Africa. South Africa’s poultry industry is important to both economies of trade concern, as well as to farmers and rural communities who are dependent on the supply of quality protein sources. These organizations are ready to help poultry farmers as well as provide the South African poultry market with free-range eggs, poultry, quality meat, and any items needed to start poultry farming. How you are going to sell them may vary depending on your target location. In principle, your target market selection will be informed by the scale of your production. Some sales avenues are selling them as live birds, selling them after slaughtering them as whole birds, or selling them as chicken pieces.

A guide to starting poultry farming in South Africa, cost to setup poultry farming in South Africa, and chicken breeds in South Africa

Poultry Farming In South Africa
Poultry Farming In South Africa (Image credit: pixabay)

Is poultry farming profitable in South Africa?: Generally, poultry farming comes with a high profit within a certain period if everything is done properly. Poultry products are always in high demand in South Africa. The poultry farming industry in SA is continuing to grow every year. This is a clear indication that poultry farming is a growing business that everyone can enter.

There are some important decisions you need to make before you start a broiler chicken farming business in South Africa. You also need to decide on the location of your broiler poultry farm and your target market. The size of the broiler poultry farming business will mainly depend on the capital amount you have, the size of the land, and your target market. Before starting a poultry farming business in South Africa, you must have a good plan for poultry farming. South Africa is competitive in the global poultry industry and produces the sixth cheapest chicken in the world. When raising chickens for egg production, they are called layers, and chickens raised for meat are called broilers.

In African countries, the size and mortality rate of a flock of native chickens varies. In South Africa, various studies have reported a herd size of 12.9 to 29.98 chickens per household, while mortality in domestic chickens, for example, Namibia is estimated at 42.2%, which is the highest mortality rate in South African countries. As far as the quality of their products is concerned, local chickens can lay 20 to 80 eggs a year, much less than commercial breeds that can lay 300 eggs a year. Nutritional deficiency and low genetic potential are factors that affect low egg production. Therefore, the genetic material must be improved to increase production efficiency. Overall, local poultry farming in South African countries is at an advanced stage. An example is Zambia, where only 0.5% of the total local poultry population reaches the commercial market.

Choosing the poultry sector for your business

You need to choose between two types: broiler and layers. Although you can go ahead and farm both broiler and layer. But as a beginner, you must build experience and skills before you expand. Successful poultry farms in South Africa are one of the following;

  • Meat production
  • Egg production
  • Incubating and raising chicks

Choose the right breeds for your business

Before choosing layer poultry for your poultry farming business, you need to keep some important information in mind. You need to choose the breeds that are suitable for your poultry farming business in South Africa and can give good yields in your area.

Read below to choose the right breeds for your business;

  • To produce commercial eggs, you need to choose the most productive laying hens.
  • Remember that not all hens lay the same number of eggs.
  • Selected breeds should have a good production capacity.
  • The selected poultry breed has the desired characteristics and this breed is suitable for your poultry farming business.
  • Always buy healthy chickens from a well-known and popular hatchery. You can check out their catalog before you buy.

Selection of location for poultry farming in South Africa

  • Poultry houses must be away from residential and industrial areas.
  • It must have proper road facilities.
  • It should have some basic facilities like water and electricity.
  • Availability of farm labor at relatively cheap wages in the poultry business.
  • Poultry house must be located in a high area and water should not accumulate there.
  • It should have proper ventilation.

Housing and equipment for poultry farming in South Africa

You need land for you will build poultry broiler housing. Land sustainability must be carefully considered in advance. The location must be highly strategic, close to major road networks, with reliable water supply, close to the market, and cheap labor. The land your business needs will depend on the scale of your broiler chicken farming business.

Your poultry breeds need adequate housing. You can use your existing infrastructure for a small-scale broiler poultry farming business. However, for a medium to large-scale commercial broiler poultry farming business, you need to build a broiler poultry housing specially designed for broilers. Broiler chickens are sensitive to fluctuations or extreme temperatures. This means that your broiler housing must ensure proper temperature and proper regulation for the birds.

The poultry house should have proper ventilation and lighting. Your monitoring devices are the real chickens themselves; a closer look will let you know if things are going well. When the temperature is too high, the chickens are hyper-ventilated, meaning their breathing rate is high, and you can see it in their breath as if they are panting for air. If the temperature is too low, they tend to crowd and squeeze in a corner or a place. Another consideration for housing is to avoid direct sunlight – you can achieve this by straightening your housing unit from east to west latitude.

The broiler chicken housing unit should also allow proper and free movement for each bird. Some of the key equipment required for the broiler poultry farming business includes feeders, drinkers, and lighting systems. Your broiler chicken farming business plan should take into account the cost of purchasing equipment and broiler housing. Poultry housing is not exactly a commodity, but it is essential for poultry production. There are different ways to make a poultry house or chicken cage and it can be a concrete house or a simple house. Whether it is a concrete or a simple house, it should have the necessary benefits for poultry birds. Poultry cages should have good ventilation and natural light management facilities.

Constructing a structure for the poultry birds in South Africa

There are several types of poultry housing systems in South Africa that you can consider. Typical poultry housing in South Africa is;

  • Deep litter system
  • Battery cage system
  • Free-range system

Which one you choose will depend on your financial strength. Battery cage systems are more expensive.

Different types of poultry breeds selection in South Africa

The popular chicken layers in South Africa can be included Lohmann Brown Layers and the Highline Breed.

There are different chicken breeds available in South Africa. To choose a poultry breed, farmers must consider how they will raise the birds, the target market, and personal preferences. Commercial breeds are usually a better option in intensive production systems, while dual-purpose or indigenous birds may be a better option in free-range or small-scale setups.

Multi-purposed indigenous chickens are ideal for free-range environments, especially rural communities. Venda, Ovambo, Naked Neck, Potchefstroom Koekoek, and Natal Game are some of the chicken breeds in South Africa. Some other European breeds are the New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red, and the Black Australorp. Breeds are used in a deep system for meat or egg production. Hi-Line or Lohmann is the best egg producer, while Ross and Cobb’s breeds are the most common for meat production.

Important chicken breeds in South Africa are;

Commercial chicken breeds

Commercial chicken breeds are highly skilled, producing either too many eggs or too much meat, but not both. They are suitable for highly productive systems. Commercial layers are usually obtained from breeders when they are 18 weeks old. Most of the commercially available breeds today are made from the White Leghorn and the New Hampshire Cross, with Amberlink, Hyline, and Lohmann being the most widely used strains in South Africa. Each bird, depending on the line, is capable of laying six to seven eggs a week at 18 to 70 weeks of age. Although in some other countries the layers are kept longer and sometimes manipulated to get into the second round of egg production, most South African egg producers sell their layers when the birds are 70 weeks old. Firstly, because keeping birds for long periods is very expensive, and secondly, because there is a real estate market for live birds in South Africa.

Most commercially available broiler lines are made from White Plymouth Rock and Indian Game Crosses, with the widely used strains in South Africa being Ross, Cobb, Hubbard, Arbor Acres, and Hybro breed. Birds are usually acquired as day-old babies. Over the years, there has been great genetic progress in broiler birds. The new breeding strategy not only sees better production in terms of egg or meat production but also breeds more balanced and resilient birds.

Indigenous chicken breeds in South Africa

Indigenous chickens are generally hardier and better suited to commercial breeds according to the climatic conditions of South Africa, making them better suited for free-range and small-scale production.

Boschveld chicken, Naked Necks, the Ovambo chicken, Potchefstroom Koekoeks, and Venda chicken are the popular chicken breeds in South Africa.

Boschveld chicken – This is a crossing of three indigenous breeds, namely, Venda, Ovambo, and Matebele. This breed is claimed to have captured the egg-laying ability of Venda, the size of Matabele, and the hardness of Ovambo. The chicken has a light reddish-brown color with white feathers in between that helps to camouflage and protect it from predators.

Naked Neck Chickens – Naked Neck Chickens are classified as an indigenous breed. Birds have different color patterns. According to the Poultry Club SA, there are two types of Naked necks, one is purebred and has a completely naked neck. Naked Necks are one of the best breeds out there for warm temperatures. They are incredibly efficient feeds.

In case if you miss this: How To Start Poultry Farming In The USA.

Naked Neck Chicken
Naked Neck Chicken (pic credit: pixabay)

Ovambo Chickens – Ovambo chicken breed originated in the Ovamboland of northern Namibia. This African chicken breed is characterized in layers, as they have a dark to black color, with streaks of white and or orange.

Potchefstroom Koekoek – This breed is known in rural communities for its ability to produce both eggs and meat, as well as their offspring.

Lohmann Brown Chicken Breed – Lohmann Brown chicken breed is raised specifically for egg-laying productivity. It is a cross-breed, selectively bred from New Hampshire and other brown egg-laying breeds. They lay in about 18 weeks and lay 300 eggs a year. Eggs are laid almost daily, usually in the morning or evening.

Ross broilers chicken breed – The world’s number one breed of poultry Ross broiler breed, purely a white hybrid, fast-growing chicken, raising meat and growing to a good weight day 1 to 43-45 days, to gain weight from 1.5 kg from 2.5 kg.

Rhode Island White Chicken Breeds – Rhode Island is a breed of white chicken that originated in the US state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a distinct breed from White Road Island Red.

Cornish chicken breed – The Cornish is a breed of chicken from Cornwall in England. Cornish chickens are the most widely used breed in the poultry industry, as well as across the Cornishes.

Equipment needed for poultry farming in South Africa

Modern poultry equipment prices in South Africa;

Brief introduction of poultry equipment;

  • The equipment is then hot-dip galvanized material, corrosion-resistant, which ensures 15 to 20 years of service life.
  • Our poultry farming equipment with intensive management and automatic control. Get automatic poultry drinking water system, feeding system, manure removal system, egg collection system, environmental control system, management system, and other poultry farming systems. To help improve work efficiency and save labor costs.
  • High-density enhancement saves land and investment. 
  • Suitable for closed chicken house. Automatic ventilation and temperature control can meet the bird’s needs.
  • Livi Machinery, a leading manufacturer and supplier of poultry equipment all over the world, especially in South Africa, most of the poultry farming equipment exported from China to South Africa comes from Livi machinery.

Below is a list of basic items need to start your poultry farm.

  • Feeders
  • Waste disposal system
  • Crates
  • Brooders or heaters
  • Good ventilation system
  • Egg trays
  • Incubators
  • Cages
  • Nests
  • Waterers
  • Lightening instruments
  • Perches
  • Coops

Free-range and organic products for poultry farming in South Africa

How about this: How To Start Pig Farming In South Africa.

Free Range Chickens
Free Range Chickens (pic credit: pixabay)

Free-range eggs and poultry production in South Africa are key components of the country’s major poultry market. South Africa has no legislation on the labeling of organic or free-range poultry products. In the absence of legislation, the majority of retailers and supermarkets have developed their standards that require products to be labeled free-range or organic.

The South African Poultry Association has developed its standards for guiding broiler and layer production. All birds, whether raised in housing, cage, free-range, or organically, must have access to the five basic freedoms recognized by the World Animal Organization. These are;

  • Freedom from hunger, malnutrition, and thirst through the availability of fresh water and proper feed.
  • Freedom from fear and suffering by providing conditions and care that avoid unnecessary suffering.
  • Freedom from abnormal discomfort.
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease through the provision of appropriate prevention and treatment of normal pathological conditions.
  • By providing freedom of expression, appropriate facilities, and proper placement of animals with their nature.

Free-range poultry production in South Africa

Internal environment – To qualify for the free range for broilers, the Broiler Production Code of Practice specifies that no more than fifteen birds per square meter can be kept in a poultry shed or housing. This number drops to ten hens per square meter if it aims to produce free-range eggs, including the collection of eggs or the area occupied by the service area and the adjoining part of the nests. Layers can increase the storage density of chickens up to 12 birds per square meter in homes with adequate perching or roosting facilities. However, such perches should not be less than 15 cm per hen and should add a gap of less than 1.5 cm on both sides to allow the hens to catch without injuring their claws.

Proper nesting facilities should be provided to discourage layering on the floor. Where individual boxes are used, there should be at least one nest for every eight hens, and where communal nests are provided, at least one hen per square meter of nesting floor per 125 hens.

The layers must have access to adequate light: in the case of daylight or artificial light, at least nine hours of continuous light, 24 hours each, and at least eight hours of darkness. With both broiler and layer production, a maximum of one adult chicken per five cm of feeder length can be kept if chain, trough, or box feeders are used which can be obtained from both sides. Ten centimeters per hen should be provided if there is only one side access. If pan or tube feeders are used, a maximum of 40 adult hens per feeder can be used.

External environment – The codes specify the same external environmental conditions for free-range broiler and layer production: the storage rate of birds outside the house or shed, should not exceed five hens per square meter. According to the South African Poultry Association, livestock theft restricts the supply of extensive ranges. The outside area where the birds are kept should be maintained so that at least 50% of the living vegetation is allowed at all times. Rotational grazing will help manage damaged land and reduce the risk of parasites building up. Birds must have access to shade, either in the form of trees or artificial structures, at the rate of four square meters of shade per thousand birds. Birds should also have access to the cover and a fence should be adequate to protect them from predators.

Organic poultry production in South Africa

No chemical or antibiotic products are allowed with organic production. Farmers use independent organizations to certify their products as organic. Each of these organizations has its own production needs. In general, though, without the use of antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, or pesticides, production should only qualify as organic.

Health management for poultry farming in South Africa

Managing chicken’s health in your poultry business means the following;

  • Vaccinate them on time
  • Provide fresh food
  • Provide fresh water
  • Clean their poultry house from time to time

Depending on the size of the farm, poultry farming can be the main source of income for the family or provide income and lucrative employment to smallholder farmers throughout the year. Poultry manure is more expensive and can be used to increase the yield of all crops. The disease is a major factor in poultry farming which has a severe impact on the farming economy. Birds suffer from diseases, many of which are highly contagious. Therefore, it is advisable to take extreme precautions to prevent and control the disease.

Tips to keep poultry birds healthy

To keep your birds healthy, follow these guidelines;

Choose the right chicken breeds – In South Africa, it is easy to buy live breeds. Day-old chicks, especially males, are also cheaper. But none of them are suitable for backyard conditions. Instead, buy chickens from your neighbors.

Put clean water into the right containers – Water containers for chicken breeds are cheap. You can use a large flat container. Remember to change the water every day because many poultry diseases are caused by dirty water.

A safe enclosure – Chickens can wander the fields during the day, they have a safe place to sleep at night. And, you can easily make a chicken hutch from wooden poles and chicken wire, from corrugated iron. Make it slightly sloping on the ground and dig a ditch around it so that it doesn’t flood when it rains. After that, put perches or branches inside for the chickens to roost on, as they get sick if forced to sleep on the ground. Providing perches and clearing long grass around bushes and hatches also protects poultry from rats and snakes. As you have to keep the chickens in the hutch at night and leave them outside in the morning, you will check twice a day that they are healthy.

Breeding and hatching – If you want chickens, you will need one for every five to six hens. Remove or slaughter other male birds as they mature to prevent noise and fighting. The hens start hatching in about six to eight months. If you collect eggs every day, they will continue to laying. If you leave the eggs in the nest, the hens will broody and want to hatch the eggs. If you want to raise chickens, choose about six clean eggs for a broody hen.

Veld grass or straw are ideal for nests, but they need to be changed enough to avoid the accumulation of red mites. Hens laying eggs need water and food. Baby chickens should be kept in the pen with the chicken for the first two to three weeks after hatching.

Vaccinate and prevent the disease – Newcastle disease is a virus that is deadly to unvaccinated chickens. Although commercial birds are vaccinated automatically, this is not always the case in backyard flocks. Vaccines are available that can be injected into the eyes of young chickens, used as a spray-on for birds in cages, or mixed with drinking water. Buy them with your local support. Complete instruction manuals or labels are included.

Check the chickens daily – Perhaps the best way to keep your chickens healthy is to keep an eye on them and react immediately if something goes wrong.

Cost to start a chicken farm in South Africa

South Africa’s poultry industry has growth opportunities for small-scale farmers, but you need at least R20,000 to 50,000 to start a profitable poultry business.

South Africa’s poultry industry has growth potential, and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development has appealed to young people to benefit. You can spend an average of R20,000 to 50,000 to start a chicken farm, depending on the size of your business. It costs between R38 and R40 to raise day-old baby chicken, and for 100-day-old chickens costs between R850 and R950.

Feed and nutrition requirements for poultry breeds

Poultry feeds and water is essential for meat production, disease resistance, and growth. To maximize profits in the commercial broiler chicken farming business, you must reduce costs, reduce mortality, and improve the target weight of broilers. You should give broiler feed to your chickens. There are many stocks feed companies in South Africa that sell broiler chicken feeds.

Broiler chicken feeds are formulated to provide all the nutrients needed for the healthy and efficient development of chickens. There are 3 types of broiler feeds that you should give to your birds according to their stage of development. Make sure you give your broilers adequate food and water. The cost of broiler feeds should be considered in your broiler production business plan.

Feeding for layer poultry farming: There are many companies available around the world that are developing commercial feeds and feed supplements for layer chickens. You can buy feed from your local market or make feed at home. You need to make sure that the feed and feed supplements you buy are rich in essential nutrients.

Protein, vitamins, and minerals are very important for laying hens which are affecting the quality of eggs, the fertility of layer poultry, and the health of layer birds.

Provide 2% calcium for two weeks after birth. If you find that they are not gaining the expected weight, you will need to offer a starter feed for eight weeks. Feed them two or three times a day until they are 18 weeks old. Do not reduce the amount of feed when laying (even if the weight increases).

Vaccination and its importance for poultry farming

The vaccination program is necessary to keep chickens free from all kinds of diseases. The main benefits of poultry vaccination are listed below;

  • Timely vaccination makes disease resistance power in the body of chickens.
  • Disease prevalence will be less.
  • The spread of diseases in poultry breeds will be reduced.
  • Mortality rates will decrease.
  • And low mortality rate = higher yields = higher profits.

There are several types of poultry vaccines available for layer hens. Marex, Ranikheth, Gamboro, Bruchaities, Bosonto, and Salmonela, etc., are used for layer chickens.

Before vaccinating layer poultry

Before vaccination you have to follow some rules;

  • Hold the chickens very carefully.
  • Vaccinate chickens without any strain.
  • Sick chickens do not need to be vaccinated.
  • Wash vaccination equipment with warm boiled water or Viraclean.
  • Vaccinate in cold weather.
  • For healthy poultry birds, the protective vaccine is applied, and never vaccinate an infected bird.

The market for broiler chickens in South Africa

Demand for poultry is very high in South Africa, exceeding 2 million tons per year. South Africa does not produce enough broiler meat to meet its demand, the shortage of which is mainly imported from Brazil. In South Africa, chicken is the most widely consumed meat. You can deliver your broiler chickens to individuals, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, butcheries, abattoirs, and organizations.

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