Dr. Raymond de Asis, a respected veterinarian, briefs us on the basics of starting a backyard broiler business.
The deluge of inquiries and phone calls in our office regarding the basics of poultry production and the mechanics of starting up a broiler business has prompted us to devote an article (a cover story, no less) on the topic. We’ve consulted with Dr. Raymond Peter G. de Asis, a veterinarian, and animal science expert who operates his own broiler business to shed light on the ABCs of broiler production.
The 32-year-old broiler expert is a master’s degree holder of animal science major in nutrition and minor in biochemistry from the University of the Philippines in Los Banos. It was also in the same state university where he obtained his doctor of veterinary medicine in 1988. Dr. de Asis is an active member of the United Broilers Association (UBRA). The following are excerpts from our interview:
Before deciding to put up a broiler business, I suggest that you determine how much capital you have or can borrow. The amount of capital you have determines how big your broiler business can be. Understand also that a broiler business could be considered as a high risk business because the farm gate prices of broiler can change at any given day. At present, many are encouraged to put up a broiler business due to the high farm gate prices, but remember that this is not guaranteed to extend to the time when you are ready to market. My dad always told me that when he was just starting to set up his business, it was quite easy to predict when the farm gate price of broiler would be high. That was the time when there were only few broiler raisers, and not too much external factors were then affecting the market.
Just to give you an idea of the amount of capital needed, allow me to give you some figures. A day-old-chick (DOC) today costs between Php20 and Php23 per chick. Feeds could cost from anywhere between Php18 and Php22 a kilo. For the duration of the growout, the broiler chick could take in around 3-3.5kgs of feed per bird. Medication, vaccination, and supplementation would cost us between P1.00 to as high as P7.00 per bird. Add to that-labor, electrical, farm rental (if renting) which is around P10 per bird. For backyard broiler raisers, this would be lower because you can remove labor cost and, to some extent, electrical cost. All in all, each bird would cost its roughly between Php90-Php130 to raise a bird to its ideal market weight. Of course many factors can affect this figure. This is just an estimate.
For your startup business, you have to add equipment and building cost. Equipment would include infrared gas brooders for the chicks, feeders in three (3) sizes (small, medium, large), drinkers and industrial electric fans. This would cost its anywhere between Php40 and Php100 per bird. Building cost would depend on the building material used-weather they’re steel, good lumber or coco lumber. This would cost us from Php40-Php150 per bird.
Once you have the capital needed, you need to look for a site where to place your broiler house. The site should not be located anywhere near an existing broiler, layer, game fowl farm. This minimizes the risk of transferring diseases during outbreaks.
With regards to the building design, if possible, the length of the broiler house should run from east to west. This prevents direct sunlight from penetrating the side walls of the house which could cause heat build-up inside. Ventilation is very important. Allocate at least one (1) square foot of floor space per bird. If constructing an open-sided type of housing, elevate the house about 1.5 meters from the ground. This ensures proper circulation of air helps ease the collection of fecal matter underneath the house after each harvest. The building should be rat proof, bird proof and cat proof. Trees could be planted on the sides of the house to provide shade during hot season and can also serve as protection from storms or weather disturbances. The roofing should be the monitor type and high enough to provide better air circulation inside the broiler house.
Now that you have constructed the house, it’s time to prepare the house for the arrival of the chicks. First, thoroughly clean the house with the use of a high pressure washer to remove dust, fecal matter or any debris left inside it. After that you have to disinfect the house including all the equipment inside it. There are a lot of disinfectants in the market-just take note of the precautions in using it. Safety of our personnel always comes first.
Day-old-chicks (DOCs) can be sourced from a number of companies including the big ones like San Miguel, Robina Farms, Vitarich etc. A number of local cooperatives can also provide DOCs.
Just take note that where you get your chicks. The company or person you got them from should have a good track record.
Keep a good record of your farm operation. Take note of the daily mortality and daily feed intake. List down all vaccinations and medication procedures undertaken. Monitor daily the appearance and performance of the flock. The first two weeks are very critical because this is the stage when the chicks are most vulnerable to diseases and stress factors such as temperature fluctuations. Monitor weekly their weights so that you can be accurate in predicting when our birds are ready for market. Too big a bird (2.0kg above) could be harder to market than an average sized bird (1.6 to 1.9 kg live weight). So before you even purchase our DOCs, take note of the market demands in your area whether they prefer large or averaged-sized birds.
Many diseases can affect the flock. Nowadays, viral disease outbreaks are kept at a minimum due to good vaccination and medication practices. Some of the diseases we vaccinate against include New Castle disease, Infectious Bursal disease, Mycoplasmosis ( in some farms), coccidiosis (again in some farms), Infectious Bronchitis and many others.
The most common diseases of poultry though, affect the respiratory and digestive systems of the broiler. Signs/symptoms often observed include rales, sneezing, unformed or foul smelling fecal matter. Many of these diseases have overlapping signs and symptoms so it is very important that if changes are observed in the behavior, appearance, or growth characteristics, the matter should be reported to a qualified veterinary practitioner so that an appropriate course of action be taken.
Some important performance indicators worth looking into include FCR, mortality rate, harvest recovery rate, average body weight.
To get the feed conversion ratio (FCR), just divide the number of kilogram of feeds by the total body weight of the whole flock (class A birds only) after harvest. This is a good indicator of the efficiency of your operation. This is interpreted as the number of kilograms of feed needed to be consumed by the bird for it to gain one (1) kilogram of body weight. The lower this ratio, the better.
Mortality rate is just the percent of birds that died throughout the duration of the growth cycle. Aim for a mortality rate of not greater than 5% of the total population including the extra birds.
Harvest recovery rate is the percentage of birds that we were able to market. This should not be lower than 90%. A good target is in the range of 93%-96%.
To get the average body weight, simply divide the total number of kilos that were marketed by the total number of birds that were sold. A good average would be around 1.6 to 2.0kg.
Good luck on your broiler business venture!