The poultry sector is an important and vibrant segment of agriculture in Pakistan with a significant contribution to the national GDP (1.3%). Commercial poultry production in Pakistan started in the 1960’s and has been providing a significant portion of daily proteins to the Pakistani population ever since. During its evolution the industry enjoyed promotional policies of the Government, but has faced several challenges such as disease outbreaks and retail price fluctuations.
In Pakistan the poultry sector is playing an important role in bridging the gap between the supply and demand for protein. Commercial poultry farming started in Pakistan in the early 1960s and showed rapid growth over the decades. The early growth of this sector was the result of the promotional policies from the Government and the persistency of the poultry farming community. The Government considered the poultry production chain to be a crucial part of the food processing industry and gave special incentives to this sector, and hence the poultry sector was declared free of sales and income tax as well as exempt from import duties for a number of years (Sadiq, 2004). As a result, during the early 1970s, the sector saw 20–30% growth per annum, and continued to grow at a rate of 10–15% in the 1980s. The most important reason for this growth was a vibrant domestic market, due to which poultry meat consumption increased more than 4% per year (Sadiq, 2004).
In Pakistan, poultry production is one of the most dynamic and well organised sectors contributing 26.8% and 5.76% respectively to total meat production and agricultural sector. In the last few years, the poultry sector has shown excellent growth and has emerged as a source of employment for more than 1.5 million people (GOP, 2014).
Despite showing excellent potential and growth over the years, per capita availability of poultry meat in Pakistan is still 5 kg and 51 eggs per year, compared to developed countries where these figures are 41 kg meat and 300 eggs (PPA, 2013b). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average daily requirement for animal protein is 27 g per person, whereas in Pakistan it is only 17 g (Memon, 2012). Out of this 17 g, the share of proteins from poultry is just 5 g, causing a gap of 10 g per person per day. If calculated on an annual basis, bearing in mind the present population of Pakistan (180 million), this gap is 788,000 t of meat. In the national meat pool the share of beef and mutton is either constant or decreasing steadily and the poultry sector has the potential to fill this gap.
Rural poultry production
It is a low-cost vocation practiced for centuries in villages in the region with virtually no input costs. A section of urban and peri-urban consumers still prefer eggs or meat from country (native) chickens and are willing to pay a premium price for these products. Small numbers of chickens and small ruminants serve as safety kits for financially starved rural families and are sold during emergencies to get cash-in-hand.
Systems in practice
Rural poultry is reared under a backyard system. The number of birds reared varies from 5-40 depending on the available space and the safety arrangements that can be made. Where possible, a small thatched hut with a bamboo-stick door is provided to house the small number of birds. Otherwise, they are covered in bamboo baskets during the night. Under all kinds of temporary housing arrangements, the birds are let out during daytime to scavenge around and feed on spilled grains, insects, domestic waste, etc.
Exception to the industrial breeds, there are three main strains of the native chicken; i.e. Agro-pastoralist strain (Watani or Desi), Pastoralist strain (Pahwali), and Agrarian/Riverine strain (Desi and naked neck). Aseel (Kulengi) breed is additional to the above said breeds/strains. It is a large sized breed and usually use for cock fighting as a game bird.
Feeding and watering
Rural birds reared under backyard conditions are usually not fed supplemental feed. They have to roam around and find their own feed from spilled grains and insects on the ground. Water is usually provided in a plate during the night, or else they drink from open gutters, which also exposes them to the danger of many diseases. However, their adaptability to the conditions and their high disease-resistance potential usually save them from such eventualities.
Commercial poultry production
Commercial broilers in this region are reared essentially on deep litter floors. Rearing broilers on slat-floors or in cages is not the general practice.
Type of systems
Two popular systems of rearing broilers are:
- the multiple-batch system
- the all-in-all-out system
Under this system, day-old broiler chicks are purchased in batches at weekly or bi-weekly intervals and reared. At any given time, birds of different ages (differing in age by days or weeks only) are being reared on the same farm. Independent broiler farmers, who want to provide a steady and continuous supply of mature broilers to the market every week, adopt this multiple-batch system, as it helps them to link with preferred retailers, and they need not run around to sell every batch of broilers produced. The requirements of rearing equipment like feeders and drinkers are also considerably less under this system, as they can be moved between different batches. However, the presence of different age groups of broilers on the same premises makes it difficult to control the spread of diseases. Because of the presence of microbial material from batch to batch, the overall performance of broilers in number of days to market, efficiency of feed utilization, percent livability and consequent total weight at market age, etc., remain poor under the multiple-batch system compared with the all-in-all-out system of broiler production.
Under this system, the day-old hybrid broiler chicks are received in one batch, grown to appropriate market age and weight on the farmer’s premises and sold in one batch to the market, mostly to wholesalers. The farm premises are cleaned and disinfected to receive the next batch of broilers of a single age group. At any time, only one particular batch or age group is available on the farm premises, making it easier to control the spread of disease as procedures to disinfect the premises can be applied promptly. Broilers grown under this system give a superior performance to broilers grown in the multiple-batch system. However, a regular supply of broilers to the market at specified weekly intervals is not possible, and the producer or farmer has to depend mostly on wholesalers to sell his broilers which means that his profit margin is that much lower. For this reason, the all-in-all-out system is preferred for greater quantity broiler production. In addition, broiler farm equipment such as feeders and drinkers are required in greater numbers, as equipment of different sizes is required at different ages.
The system of broiler production adopted by the farmer depends on the number of broilers raised, and the preferred level of integration of broiler production activities. Consequently, the type of broiler production activities most widely practiced can be grouped conveniently into three categories:
Smaller independent units
Total farm capacity ranges between 2 000 and 8 000 broilers. The broiler farmer purchases inputs like day-old chicks, feed, medicines, etc., rears the chicks on his farm to the required market age and weight, and arranges to sell them to retailers or wholesalers regularly. A few farmers own retail outlets and attempt to reap as much profit as possible from the low level of activity. The system of broiler production adopted is essentially the multiple-batch system.
Moderately integrated large units
Farm capacity ranges from 10 000 to 40 000 broilers. Farms with this capacity are fewer in number. The farmer gets the required number of broiler chicks at discounted rates because of the volume of purchase. He owns his own feed-mixing unit and produces quality broiler feed at a lower cost. He also adopts the multiple-batch system but produces broilers at a much lower cost compared with independent small farmers.
Vertically integrated broiler production under contract farming
This practice is gaining popularity at present. Most hatchery men, feed manufacturers and even wholesale broiler merchants are obliged to contract broiler farmers either to find a market for their day-old broiler chicks and broiler feed, or to ensure a continuous supply of mature broilers at competitive rates.
The integrator or producer owns a hatchery and a feed plant and contracts broiler farmers to raise broilers from day-old to market age. The integrator supplies the chicks, feed, medicines and vaccines and also arranges for veterinary supervision of the farms. The farmer has to provide the housing facilities, electricity, litter material and the labour required to rear the broilers to market age. He is paid a rearing cost for his services, depending on the body weight of broilers raised and the production efficiency on his farm.
This system of broiler production under contract farming has proved to be beneficial to both the integrators and the farmers. There are also added advantages since the integrator takes care of the activities that require some skill. Because the farmer’s role is more simple. The size of farms under contract farming range from 2,000 to 20,000 broilers or even more. The broiler farmer is even extended credit facilities by banks to establish farms under contract farming.
Buildings are the major capital expenditure and therefore need thorough planning. The various types of buildings required on a broiler farm are:
- Broiler houses
- Office room
- Staff or watchman quarters
- Manure pit
- Burial pit or incinerator
Broilers need houses to protect them from extremes of climate, theft, predatory animals like wild cats, dogs or bandicoots, etc.; to ensure easy and better management; to facilitate automation and to provide ideal, comfortable rearing conditions.
Optimal environmental conditions for rearing broilers:
- Temperature: 22-30 C (or) 70-85F
- Relative Humidity: 30-60 percent
- Ammonia: Less than 25 ppm
- Litter moisture: 15-25 percent
Airflow: Open-sided houses with 35 cm high sidewalls and breadth of broiler houses restricted to 7.2 m; otherwise, airflow should be 10-30 metres per minute by turbo-ventilation.
Systems of housing
The broilers may be raised on deep litter, in cages or in batteries with slatted or wire floor systems. The space allowances given above are for the deep litter system of housing, which is the most widely used system for broilers. When they are reared in cages, half the space suggested is sufficient. The cages must be fitted at a height of 75 cm above floor level with feeders and drinkers fitted on the sides, running along the length and width of the cages. Cage houses meant for broilers need not have sidewalls, and weld-mesh cover may be provided up to the bottom floor level. The cage mesh size should be 1.25 x 1.25 cm for the floor and 2.5 x 5.0 cm on the sides to allow birds to take feed and water. Many practical difficulties, like injuries to the flesh of the birds or to the attending workers, broiler breast blisters due to the heavy weight of the birds, leg weakness, difficulty in gathering for the market, maintenance costs, etc., have forced farmers to abandon this system of housing for broilers. The emergence of full automation of feeding and watering and environmentally controlled houses may encourage farmers to opt for cage housing for broilers in future, as it ensures a faster growth rate, better feed efficiency and lower mortality levels.
Environmentally controlled broiler houses may be established in future in this region when higher investments are made in broiler rearing for large-sized broiler farms. Such houses will have no windows. Hot air will be removed by exhaust systems and fresh air introduced through inlets by negative pressure. Air temperature, relative humidity, lighting, ammonia level, ventilation rate, etc., will be monitored and controlled automatically. Birds with the best micro-environment will grow faster with better feed efficiency.
The most commonly used pieces of farm equipment in broiler houses are feeders, drinkers, and brooders together with chick guards, crates and weighing scales. Flame guns and other cleaning equipment are also used.
Suggested feeder space allowances per broiler at different ages are as follows:
- 0-2 weeks – 3 cm
- 3-4 weeks – 5 cm
- > 4 weeks – 8 cm
Accordingly, for 1 000 broilers, 25 feeders of 60 cm length are needed, 7.5 cm breadth and 3.8 cm height; from 0-2 weeks, 90 cm length, 12.5 cm breadth and 7.5 cm height; from 3-4 weeks and 150 cm length, 15 cm breadth and 10 cm height from 5 weeks to market age.
Water troughs or drinkers are used to provide clean, wholesome water to the broilers. They are also available in different sizes and capacities. They may be troughs or basins kept on the floor in the conventional manner, or hanging drinkers in an automatic system. Sufficient space for these drinkers should also be provided for so that each bird can drink water easily.
Suggested space allowances are as follows:
- 0-2 weeks -1.3 cm
- 3-5 weeks -2.5 cm
- > 5 weeks -5.0 cm
Brooders are used to give warmth to baby chicks during their early stages. Electrical, gas, charcoal or kerosene stoves or centralized heating systems may be used for this purpose.
Chick guards of metallic sheets or hardboards (approximately 35 cm in height) are used to limit the movement of the chicks and to confine them under the source of heat.
To provide warmth for brooding, artificial lighting has to be given up to three weeks, as suggested earlier. Afterwards, it is recommended to provide a total photo-period of 16 hours per day (a photo-period is natural daylight + artificial lighting from roof level – one 60 w bulb.
Broilers are usually reared on deep litter only. The materials commonly used as litter are paddy husks, groundnut hulls, sawdust, wood-shavings, coir pith, chopped straw, bagasse and even sand. The choice of litter material depends mostly on cost and local availability of the material.
A total litter height of 5 cm is sufficient. The litter should be kept as dry as possible. After two weeks, it is advisable to rake the litter every day in the morning with the help of a spoke, so that caked material is broken up and exposed to facilitate drying. Remove drinkers and feeders while raking the litter, to avoid spillage. Moisture levels in litter material will increase very day because of the water in bird droppings. If it goes beyond 25 percent, excess ammonia will be produced.
The management of rearing broilers includes cleaning and preparing the house to receive day-old broiler chicks, rearing them from day-old to market age, feeding and watering, applying disease control measures and profitable marketing.
Layers are chickens reared for eggs. At the hatchery itself, day-old layer-type chicks are sexed mostly by vent sexing and only female chicks are sold to farmers for layer farming. The day-old male chicks are discarded.
Type of systems
- Layers are reared on deep litter floors, in cages or on different kinds of floors at different ages. Deep litter floor rearing involves rearing egg-type chicks or birds on any one of the preferred litter materials (paddy husks, groundnut hulls, wood shavings, etc.) spread on the floor. Cages of different sizes with different sized mesh need to be fabricated for rearing layer chickens of different ages.
- The layer-type chicken starts laying at about 20 weeks of age and continues to lay at a good rate for another 52 weeks (a total of 72 weeks). To ensure a constant number of laying birds at all times, farmers tend to buy day-old chicks at fixed intervals until the farm is at its total capacity. Accordingly, the system of rearing layer birds is referred to as the 1+2, 1+3 or 1+1+5 system, etc.
Several commercial strains of layer-type chickens (BV-300, Bovans or Hyline) are available on the market. Their grandparent stocks are imported into the country from poultry breeders in developed countries. They are propagated by franchise hatcheries or breeder firms according to the guidelines of the breeder, and the commercial chicks are obtained, sexed and sold to the interested farmers.
Layer-type chickens require various nutrients at different levels and at different ages, and accordingly, their rearing is classified into three distinct phases, namely brooders (0-8 weeks), growers (9-20 weeks) and layers (21-72 weeks). The management practices to be adopted also vary at these stages.
The design of buildings for rearing layer-type birds on deep litter is almost the same as that given for broilers. The specifications for width, length, sidewalls, floor and roof also apply for layer chicks. However, it is better to have a minimum distance of 30 m between brooder and layer houses. Furthermore, for cage rearing, the sidewalls for the houses need not be constructed, and the weld mesh covering may be extended up to the floor so that it permits ree airflow for early drying of droppings accumulating at the bottom of the cages. The specifications for cages at different stages are described under the respective headings.
The number of buildings required varies according to the length of intervals between receiving each batch of chicks. Based on this, the layer farm may be established as follows.
1 + 2 pattern – One brooder cum grower house + two layer houses (chicks to be received at 28-week intervals)
1 + 3 pattern – One brooder cum grower house + three layer houses (chicks to be received at 20-week intervals)
1 + 1 + 5 pattern – One brooder house + one grower house + five layer houses and the chicks are to be received at 12-week intervals.
The conventional type of feeders and drinkers may be used on deep litter. Available space in a linear or circular feeder or drinker may be calculated as described earlier, and the required number of feeders and drinkers needed for the different ages may be calculated from the space allowed per bird.
System of rearing
Layer-type chicks may be reared on deep litter or in cages at all three stages. They may also be reared initially on deep litter up to one or two stages and transferred to cages at a later age.
Most often, layer birds are reared in cages. Cages of various sizes are used to house three to five birds in a cage. Currently, reverse cages are used, with their longer sides fitted to remain in front. Lately, raised platform houses are being constructed, to facilitate quicker drying of droppings and their easy removal. The cages are constructed on a platform at a height of about 180-240 cm.
Cages of the following sizes may be made and fitted in rows:
- 45 x 30 cm – for 3 birds
- 45 x 40 cm – for 4 birds
- 50 x 35 cm – for 4 birds
- 50 x 45 cm – for 5 birds
- 60 x 37.5 cm- for 5 birds
Commercial hybrid layers produce around 290-310 eggs in one year from 21-72 weeks of age. The strain of the bird, age and body weight at the start of laying, lighting schedule during growing and laying, feed quality (protein, energy, vitamins, mineral and trace mineral content and toxin-free feed), culling procedure, climate, managerial factors like space allowances, system of feeding, water quality, vaccination and other disease control measures, all influence the number of eggs.
Feed is the largest single item of expenditure, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total cost of production of broilers and eggs under the prevailing prices. Moreover, the cost per kilogram of feed is increasing day by day without any proportionate increase in the selling prices of broilers or eggs.
Percent inclusion and Nutrient contents of the feed ingredients commonly used in poultry feeds
Disease is a condition caused by living factors like viruses, bacteria or parasites, or non-living factors such as deficiencies, toxins and other physical or chemical agents. Diseases can be classified depending on the causative factors. Some common poultry diseases and the noticeable symptoms of each are described below. The preventive measures are given, and for necessary treatment, poultry farmers are advised to contact a qualified veterinarian. Diseases cause severe economic loss in poultry production. The loss is not only due to the death of birds but also due to loss in production. A farmer should always therefore remain on the alert to notice any symptom evinced by the flock so that control or treatment measures can be initiated early and the loss minimised. However, it is prudent on the part of the farmer to take all possible precautions to keep the flock disease-free.
New Castle Diseases (Rani Khet)
Sign and symptoms
Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, greenish, watery diarrhea depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis and egg production drop.
- 2-7day, Intraocular/Intranasal
- 21 day, 0.5 ml S/C
- 10th week 1ml S/C
- Every 2 month 1ml S/C.
Sign and symptoms
Cutaneous lesions on the feather-less skin and/or diphtheritic lesions of mucous coats of the upper alimentary and respiratory tract.
Vaccination at 6th week 0.5 ml in wing web, repeat after 12th week.
Sign and symptoms
Fever, cough, sore throat, conjunctivitis (eye infections), and muscle aches. Pneumonia, acute respiratory distress and other severe and life-threatening complications.
Biosecurity measure, Vaccination not successful due to Variety of strains.
Infectious Bursal disease (IBD) (Gumboro)
Sign and symptoms
Depressed, have ruffled feathers, droopy appearance and may be seen pecking at the vent. Birds that die are usually dehydrated (causing kidney lesions), frequently petechial haemorrhages are present in the thigh and pectoral muscles, Bursal lesions are variable depending on the progress of the disease.
Control through balancing biosecurity/hygienic measures and vaccination.
Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
Sign and symptoms
Coughing and rattling are common, most severe in young, such as broilers, and rapidly spreading in chickens confined or at proximity. Eggs are misshapen and discolored. Many laid eggs have a thin or soft shell and poor albumen (watery).
Control is best achieved by improved biosecurity and vaccination. Biosecurity protocols including adequate isolation, disinfection are important in controlling the spread of the disease.
Sign and Symptoms
The chicks lose weight and their appetites, feathers become ruffled and soiled. Combs are pale and they tend to huddle together in corners. Droppings are watery and greenish or brown in color often containing blood.
Preventive use of Bifuran in feed at all times. Keep the litter dry and loose and keep chicks isolated in freshly sterilised pens
Use Bifuran in the water. Isolate sick birds. When the attack dies down disinfect litter and sterilize pens.
Sign and Symptoms
Watery discharge from eyes and nose and sometimes sticking of eyelids. Noticeable difficulty in breathing, shaking of head and wheezing. Odorous and cheesy droppings.
Observe strict sanitary condition and make certain that an adequate source of Vitamin A is provided in the diet. Infected birds should be culled and destroyed and the house, feeders and waterers thoroughly disinfected. An injection of antibiotics is also helpful.
There are many different external parasites harbored by poultry. The commonest are mites, fleas, lice and ticks.
Sign and Symptoms
Chickens are restless, nervous and peck at their own feathers. Pale combs, wattles and low egg production.
Tick, lice, and flea powder should be rubbed into the feathers and skin of the birds.When each batch of birds is cleared spray the entire house and surrounding ground with malathion or any suitable pesticide. A regular spray of creosote will kill these pests and, at the same time, preserve the structure of the house.