Production and Business Guide on Egg Layers Part 1

Chicken egg production in the Philippines is a minor industry compared to the broiler reduction sector that takes enter stage in the Philippine chicken trade. But the chicken layer sector had the most growth between 2001 and 2002 because of the increase of chicken layers in the country.

In 2002 alone, chicken egg production contributed 3% of the total value of agriculture in the Philippines. With the current socio-economic problems in the country, the chicken egg is one of the cheapest food products that are vastly available in the market. The chicken egg is also considered as one of the most complete food sources with high nutritional value.

Chicken egg production in the Philippines mainly serves the domestic market.

MANAGEMENT OF THE LAYERING FARM

The success of the egg-production business greatly depends on successful management of the layer farm. Each factor discussed below contributes to the success of your egg production business.

Housing and Bedding

Poultry housing and equipment can be as simple as a shed roof with chicken wire fencing, nests, water fountains and hand-filled feeders to an environmentally controlled fully automated cage layer house. Make sure that the birds are given adequate floor space. A maximum of three birds per square meter is recommended. I Provide birds with up to 100% ” (depending on severity of conditions) more floor space than I is recommended for temperate climates.

In the laying house, supply at least 1 nest per 4 females or at least provide one 10″ x 10″ nest for every 5 hens in your flock. Place nests 24″ above the floor and away from the roosts. Keep the nesting material clean and dry.

Lighting, Heating and Ventilation

Heat stress is one of the major risk factors that one must consider in layer farm management. The ideal temperature for laying hens is between 18 degrees and 29 degrees Celsius.

Air movement around birds at floor level has a beneficial cooling effect. In shade houses, take full advantage of natural breezes using paddles or circulating fans in periods of still weather and particularly during the heat of the day. In controlled environment houses, use inlets with moveable louvers which can direct moving air directly on to the birds at floor level.

In shade houses, natural daylight must be supplemented with artificial lighting in order to obtain desirable lighting patterns which are necessary to adequately control sexual maturity. A constant or decreasing lighting pattern during rearing is essential to prevent too early sexual maturity. An increasing or constant light pattern is necessary after 22-24 weeks of age.

Brooding Equipment

Poultry housing should provide clean, dry, comfortable quarters for birds throughout the year.
To brood chicks, you need adequate heat and space. The house and equipment should be clean and in good repair.

Set up and warm the brooding area before the chicks arrive. Chicks will need a warm, draft-free location with proper ventilation and access to clean water, appropriate feed and protection.

The normal brooding period, when heat is required, is from the time chicks hatch until they are about six weeks old. Chicks may be brooded many places on the farm. The main requirements are adequate space, a reliable source of heat and proper ventilation.

A brooder house measuring 10 by 12 feet will take care of 120 chicks to eight weeks of age. The chick guard ring is 12 inches high arranged in a circle 6 feet in diameter around the brooder stove. The feeders are placed in a spoke-like arrangement radiating outward from underneath the outer portion of the brooder canopy. This provides chicks access to feed and allows them to move freely in and out from the heat source.

Feeding Equipment

The mechanics of feeding are nearly as important as the feed itself. Supply enough feeder space so that all the birds can eat at the same time. When space is limited, some birds don’t get enough to eat. Keep feed available for the birds constantly. Meal feeding (giving a limited amount of feed several times each day) can reduce productivity if not managed carefully.

Place feeders so the trough is at the level of the birds’ backs. This practice reduces feed spillage, which encourages rodents, wastes feed, and costs money.

Watering Equipment

The distribution of waterers should be such as to minimize the distance any bird has to move in order to drink; ideally, both feed and water should be distributed so that no bird has to move more than i 1/2 meters to get its requirements.

Whenever possible, use a water supply such as well which provides cool water. Bury or insulate water pipes to maintain the original coolness. Additionally, supply troughs in which breeders may dip their combs and wattles so that evaporation of water cools the blood supply in the combs and wattles. In extremely hot weather, do not place drugs or other substances in the water which might decrease its palatability.

Author: Carmela Abaygar, Marid Digest

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