What Is: Poultry Farming?

Poultry farming is the discipline of raising poultry (in this case chicken), primarily for the purpose of selling the the bird’s body (for meat) or eggs for food, to make a financial profit.

Poultry farming also can be performed for the aim of being self-sufficient i.e. not for profit, only to feed your household.

Poultry farming as a process has a clear beginning, middle and end known as the value chain. It starts with the stock breeders who maintain pure lines of breed. Then hatcheries, incubate fertilised eggs and make available poultry flocks bought in batches by producers or growers who make ready birds and eggs for consumption.

Supporting this value chain are support businesses like poultry feed manufacturers, veterinarians and equipment manufacturers, without whom the poultry farming industry wouldn’t be what we know it to be today.

The poultry farming industry is dependent on each participant receiving benefit. Businesses involved must make profit to sustain their activity. This means their operational costs and overheads must be less than their revenue. As in the case of producers, some 70% of the farm costs are due to feed. So it’s often a goal of poultry producers to minimise feed costs by milling their own formula. This is a market factor you can attempt to control.

But in addition to this there are other economic factors that play their part in poultry farming including import and export tariffs and regulations. Countries which experience an influx of cheaper imported chicken meat or eggs, can depress their own domestic poultry value chain as native producers are priced out of the market.

And then there is animal husbandry, or stockmanship. Providing your chicken with the most conducive rearing conditions for optimal output of growth or production. Everything from space allocation, temperature, ventilation, biosecurity all play their important parts in preserving the health and strength of your flock. A flock with an optimal feed conversion rate will be putting money back in your pocket so long as your poultry business management is profitable.

Finally, on that note, there is marketing and sales. With your flock producing eggs and meat at the best rate possible and with effective cost management – the next question is, “Am I getting paid enough for my product?” Mass market demand is often less  concerned with quality and more with pricing. This puts a downward pressure on your revenue and profit. But a good way of overcoming this is finding a niche demand for poultry generated by consumers that demand better quality and are willing to pay for it. By tapping into such demand, you preserve your profit margins and serve an audience who perceive higher risks associated with leaving your product.

All in all poultry farming is a multidisciplinary agricultural and business management vocation. One that pretty much anyone can start: a poultry farming beginner or expert, in any country and with any budget. You can start with one bird or 50,000 birds, the key is getting the basics right and establishing profitable business growth.

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By Temi Cole
Temi Cole

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