Compiled by Harlan H.D. Attfield
Illustrations by Joseph Layne
1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, Virginia 22209 USA
Tel: 703/276-1800 . Fax: 703/243-1865
Raising Chickens and Ducks
Copyright [C] 1990 by Volunteers in Technical Assistance
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording, or any information storage and retrieval system without written
permission of the publisher.
Published by VITA
1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 500
Arlington, Virginia 22209 USA
Tel: 703/276-1800 . Fax: 703/243-1865
Manufactured in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Attfield, Harlan H. D.
Raising chickens and ducks/ by Harlan H.D. Attfield: illustrated by
Joseph Layne and Marina Maspero
Includes bibliographical references: p. 105
1. Chickens. 2. Ducks. 3. Chickens--Developing countries. 4. Ducks--Developing
countries. I. Title.
SF487.A933 1990 636.5--dc20 90-45999 CIP
Raising Chickens and Ducks was compiled by Harlan H.D. Attfield, a small stock and
gardening expert, who has been a VITA volunteer for many years and has written
numerous publications for VITA. Much of the information in this book was drawn from
the selected writing of these poultry experts, who also reviewed the final manuscript:
James Archer Peter Krusch
Poultry Expert Poultry Expert
International Voluntary Services U.S. Peace Corps
Dr. H.R. Bird Allan A. McArdle
Poultry Expert Poultry Production Adviser
Volunteers In Technical Assistance Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations
Poultry Development Officer
Ministry of Food and Agriculture
New Delhi, India
VITA Volunteer Joseph Layne is a professional artist, designer, and art instructor. The
late Marina Maspero illustrated a number of publications for International Voluntary
Services. VITA staff who were involved with the preparation of this book included
Magaret Crouch, executive editor; Patricia Mantey, editing, design, layout, and charts;
Suzanne Brooks, typesetting; Sandra Wark, tables.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Selecting a Breed of Chicken
Preparing to Raise Chickens
Caring for Chickens
Diseases and Their Control
Selecting a Breed of Duck
Preparing to Raise Ducks
Managing Egg Laying Ducks
Diseases and Their Control
The Chinese Rice-Husk Incubation System
Step By Step Incubation Process
Daily Activities in Brief
Chicken Feed Formulas from Around the World
Conversion of Units of Measurement
Building the Colony Cage
Worldwide, more people are using the spare space around their homes to grow food.
They plant fruit trees, grow vegetables, and often raise a few animals--pigs, rabbits,
goats, or poultry. This manual is intended for people who wish to raise chickens or ducks
to improve the family diet and, possibly, earn some extra income. Moreover, chicken and
duck manure is an excellent fertilizer for the vegetable garden or a valuable addition to
the compost pile. This is especially important to farmers and gardeners who cannot
afford or find other fertilizers, and to those who wish to make the best possible use of all
the natural resources of their farms. The book is divided into two sections: the first deals
with raising chickens at home, the second with raising ducks in wet areas.
Long before taking poultry into your care you must think about how to house and feed
them. Because home flocks (under 50 birds) do not require the same professional
attention to detail that commercial flocks do, they can be an important asset to the family
diet without a large commitment of time and money.
However, even a small project will require a cash investment in chicks and feed for a
period of more than six months during the brooding and growing period before any return
can be realized. Then, after the birds have begun to lay, it will take more than another
six months before all of the original investment is repaid.
Because chickens and ducks can utilize surplus grain, table scraps, garden trimmings,
and by-products, they can provide a valuable food reserve. Some farming communities
produce more grain than their people need. Of course the excess could be sold, but if not,
it can be fed to poultry. Then, if there is a decreased production of grain in a certain year,
the poultry flock can be reduced instead of decreasing the grain that is supplied to the
people. Many farmer co-ops could maintain this kind of balance between grain
production and poultry husbandry.
Modern science has greatly increased our knowledge of poultry production. New breeds
have been developed, our understanding of nutrition has grown, we have learned how
to better house poultry, and new medicines have come on the market that protect flocks
against disease. This manual incorporates many modern techniques of poultry science
with practical experience gained in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the United States
This publication does not address itself to commercial projects (flocks containing
hundreds and thousands of birds). Operations of this type require a highly efficient level
of production and access to professional technical help to provide a reasonable income.
We wish you the best of luck, and,
Harlan H.D. Attfield
Illustrations by Joseph Layne
SELECTING A BREED OF CHICKEN
There are many different kinds of chickens available. For centuries people in villages
have been keeping local breeds. Left to fend for themselves, these birds have learned to
live off the land with a great deal of success. They have adapted themselves to the
climate, and being very active, they are not easily preyed upon by wild animals, cats, or
dogs. The hens usually make excellent mothers, although many chicks are lost to
predators and disease before they reach adulthood. Additionally, many people find these
birds make a very tasty meal.
Even though local breeds have some good qualities, they are not usually well suited for
rearing in confinement, and they do not produce enough eggs and meat to justify the cost
of purchased feeds. For the person who wishes to provide their family with eggs and
meat, we recommend "improved" breeds. The following will give you an idea of what
Egg Laying Breeds
As the name implies these birds are outstanding for egg production, but their bodies are
small in weight--usually 4 1/2 lbs. (2 kg)--and do not yield a lot of meat. On the other
hand, they are able to lay eggs at less cost than other breeds. One of the most popular
breeds is the White Leghorn, which is capable of producing well over 225 eggs a year.
Dual Purpose Breeds
These birds weigh around 6 lbs. (2.7 kg) and have been developed to be above average
layers and yield more meat when slaughtered. Popular breeds in this category are Rhode
Island Reds, New Hampshires, and Plymouth Rocks.
Sometimes two improved breeds or a local breed and an improved breed are mated to
produce new strains. A common cross in many countries is obtained by mating White
Leghorn males with female Rhode Island Reds. The resulting strain exhibits what is
called "hybrid vigor." They grow quickly and put on weight for a reasonable amount of
feed. The hens often lay better than either of the pure breeds from which they were
produced. <see figure 1>
"Custom breeding" chickens to perform well under local conditions is now practiced in
many countries. In Java, Dr. Bird reported good results using a cross-strain called the
What breed should you select? It is extremely important that you contact your local
extension agent or university poultry expert before making your decision. They will be
able to guide you and suggest a breed suitable to your area.
PREPARING TO RAISE CHICKENS
This guide has been written to show how to use improved breeds of poultry to produce
more food for your family, and possibly earn some extra income.
This manual deals with raising chickens in pens and cages, which will protect a flock
against disease, theft, and predatory animals. When chickens are raised in confinement,
the birds are completely dependent upon you to provide them with the feed they will need
to produce eggs and meat. This is not an easy task. Over the years poultry scientists have
spent hundreds of hours and millions of research dollars to determine exactly what
chickens require to produce the maximum amount of eggs and meat for the least amount
Feed amounts to nearly 75 percent of the cost of rearing a bird to laying age and 60
percent of the cost of egg production. For the home poultry producer a good-quality
commercially-mixed feed is recommended.
Commercially-mixed feeds are also called balanced feeds. Balanced feeds are exact
blends of proteins, carbohydrates (energy feeds), vitamins, and minerals. They are very
important to the home producer of poultry because they contain everything the flock
needs to promote good health, rapid growth, and maximum egg production. Balanced
feeds are available at government and private feed mills. In some countries government
mills produce feeds at cost (under subsidy), which makes them very attractive to people
raising poultry on a limited budget. Very often government mills establish stores
conveniently located throughout the country. This also makes it easy for local poultry
farmers to purchase balanced feeds. These stores quite often share space with local
agricultural extension offices. Your local extension agent will be able to tell you where
the nearest feed store is located in your area.
Commercial-milled poultry feeds are usually sold in the following categories: starter
ration, grower ration, and laying ration. Specific recommendations of the feed manufacturer
should be followed. Generally speaking, starter rations should be fed from birth
to 6 to 8 weeks of age; grower rations should be fed beginning at 6 to 8 weeks and up until
18 to 29 weeks of age. Thereafter, layer rations should be used. In many countries only
layer rations are available. If this is the case, layer rations can be used in place of starter
and grower rations.
Poultry rations may come in mash, crumbles, or pellet form; one is equally as good as
the other, but pellets cannot be used for chicks. Because chickens will waste less feed
in crumble or pellet form, these feeds may be more economical in the long run, even
though they usually cost a little more.
The appendix lists several balanced feed mix formulas currently used in many countries
around the world. Study them carefully, and see if any of them fit your circumstances.
Mixing Balanced Feeds at Home
This approach is not generally recommended because of the great difficulty involved in
collecting all the ingredients necessary to duplicate scientifically-formulated feeds from
commercial mills. Even one ingredient left out or improperly measured could result in
failure. When individuals try to mix their own feed, they often pay more for ingredients
than a professional feed miller who buys everything in large bulk quantities. On the other
hand, farmer cooperatives have been organized to produce balanced feeds in many parts
of the world.
Should a breakdown occur in the delivery of milled feeds to your area, you will have to
prepare an "emergency ration" from locally available products until balanced feeds are
available again. It is best to look over everything that is available in your area and know
what you will do if this is ever necessary.
Should you wish to mix your own feed, please remember that it is best to use cereal by-products
rather than cereal grains themselves, which often form the staple diet for many
people. By-products--which cannot be used for human consumption--are valuable
ingredients to producers of balanced feeds. Many countries are now placing high priority
on making more effective use of locally available foodstuffs, particularly food by-products
and waste materials rich in energy and protein. This is being done in an effort
to expand the poultry industry without competing directly with people for scarce and
costly cereal grains. To illustrate this point, in an experiment at the University of
Wisconsin layers maintained 67 percent of egg production on the following diet
formulated with rice bran:
Table 1. Supplemented rice bran diet.
Rice bran 90.0
Fish meal 1.0
Alfalfa meal 1.0
Ground limestone 5.4
Iodized salt 0.5
Dicalcium phosphate 1.0
Vitamin trace--mineral 1.0
Free choice limestone grit ----
(1) The vitamin-mineral supplement provides, per kilogram (kg) of diet:
6000 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin A, 900 International Chick Units
(I.C.U.) of vitamin [D.sub.3], 22 I.U. of vitamin E, 10 milligrams (mg) of
riboflavin, 0.7 mg of folic acid, and 200 mg of zinc carbonate. (Source:
Within limits a person can be very creative when formulating feeds at home. A good
example of this is provided by poultry experts Mr. Allan McArdle and Mr. J.N. Panda
in their publication entitled, New Methods Pay With Poultry (Literacy House Publication).
They give the following advice to people living in rural parts of India:
Obtain waste grains; if possible, enough to give about 3 oz. (85 gm) for each
bird daily so that with 12 birds you need to have about 2-1/2 lbs. (1.14 kg) of
grains (try to pick grains the birds like). The grains can be partly replaced (up
to half) by rice bran.
Obtain enough protein sources around the village such as:
1. Meat from dead animals or alternatively meat offal (meat parts
generally not eaten by humans) if available. Twelve birds would
need about 1-1/4 lbs. (.57 kg) of meat or small fishes, frogs, or
snails daily to balance their feed. These can be boiled and fed in
Note: If you have an extra supply of meat left over then try to
preserve it. Cut it into thin strips, dip into salt solution, and hang
in the sun to dry--keeping it away from flies. This will keep well;
when needed it can be cut up and soaked in water. Feed about one-third
to one-half of weight (when dry) above 1/2 lb. (.23 kg) for
12 birds daily. If you mix feed dry, this dried meat can be used
ground-up without soaking.
2. If enough meat, fish, frogs, or snails cannot be obtained daily--suppose
only 3/4 lb. (.34 kg) was available for 12 birds--then it
will be necessary to supplement from other sources. For example:
(a) Add about 1/4 lb. (.12 kg) or more of white ants--these can
be dug out of big mounds around the village and jungle.
(These are a valuable poultry feed.)
(b) Or use cowdung fly maggots. These can be grown in small
pits that are filled with manure and kept damp. Sprinkling a
little flour will also help. A good supply of maggots will
usually be available in seven days. These have been used to
supplement feed as with white ants.
(c) Other supplements are mango kernels, which can be crushed
and used as 10 percent of the feed, or damaged fruit, which
can be used as 10 to 20 percent of the feed.
(d) Any waste from cooked foods can be included in the feed if
fed wet--otherwise use in a separate feeder.
(e) Green feed at the rate of about 1/2 gallon measure (1.9 liters)
can be given for 12 birds, if not running on good pasture.
Some village supplies may be Dub grass, cabbage and radish
leaves; tender leaves from trees such as tamarind, papaya,
agisti, etc.; and water hyacinth (Jagal or Chingudia Dal),
wild sag, leaves of cow pea, mung, or biri crops.
(f) Also provide crushed bones and some fine gravel from
In brief, 12 birds will need about 2-1/2 lbs. (I. 14 kg) grain and 1- 1/4 lbs. (.57
kg) meat. Meat offal is a good protein source and when it is available fresh and
every day, it can provide a balanced feed capable of giving very good
production. However, it must be fed along with wet mash every day. Alternatively,
a reasonable formula can be made using snails, frogs, fish, or some meat
plus white ants, etc. and other supplements, plus green feed--in all 3 to 4 lbs.
(1.4 to 1.8 kg) of feed daily.
Some Feeds Must Be Used With Care
Dr. H.R. Bird advises that some feed ingredients have special disadvantages that must
be noted. Cottonseed meal contains a substance called gossypol, which discolors egg
yolks and inhibits growth of young birds. However, cooking the meal will decrease the
gossypol and result in a product that is satisfactory for growing birds, even though it may
still discolor yolks. Mustard seed meal contains a growth inhibitor and should not
represent more than 5 percent of the diet. Rapeseed meal contains a compound that
interferes with thyroid function (an important gland), and also should not represent more
than 5 percent of the diet, unless improved strains of the plant are used.
Soybeans contain an inhibitor of trypsin, an enzyme important for digestion, but it can
be destroyed by cooking. The processing of soybean meal is now so well standardized
that this inhibitor is seldom a problem.
To know whether soybean meal is cooked thoroughly enough, follow this simple
1) Place 10 teaspoons (about 30 grams) of the cooked meal in a small jar
with a tight lid.
2) Add 1 teaspoon (about 4 grams) of fertilizer grade or feed grade urea
and 5 teaspoons (25 cc) of water.
3) Stir the contents and cover the jar with the lid. Seal should be tight.
4) Wait 20 minutes. Sniff for the odor of ammonia (an extremely sharp
5) If ammonia is present, the soybean meal contains the enzyme urease
and has not been heated enough.
Field beans (navy, pinto, kidney, etc.), like soybeans, contain growth-inhibiting materials
that can also be destroyed by cooking.
Now you must ask yourself: What feeds are available locally, at what volume, and at
what price? Are they or substitutes available year round? Can they be combined to make
a suitable formula, or will other ingredients have to be shipped in from other areas? If
you are considering a medium-sized or large-scale operation, you should have local feed
ingredients analyzed by professionals. The final test of the quality of the ingredients and
the formulation is how well your poultry perform. Because of the difficulty of mixing
feeds at home, it is generally better to use completely balanced and prepared feeds ready
for use in dry form, purchased from government or private feed mills. <see figure 2>
Because chickens don't have teeth to help break up their food, they will often eat grit--coarse
sand, bits of limestone and granite, tiny pebbles, and fine river gravel. The grit
lodges in the gizzard and helps grind grain and other rough feeds before they are passed
on to the intestines. If you are feeding whole or cracked grains (rice, wheat, maize, etc.),
fibrous, or tough feeds, you should provide some sort of grit in a small container near the
feeder. Grit is not needed if the birds are on a diet of milled mashed feeds. Some people
who keep their chickens on deep litter or in colony cages still provide grit even though
they feed mashes in order to help their birds digest bits of litter or feathers that are
commonly consumed by mistake.
A good manager is constantly on the alert for feed wastage. In damp weather feed should
not be stored for more than four weeks to prevent it from becoming stale or even slightly
mildewed. Some people store bags of feed up on a platform high enough to allow a cat
to get behind and underneath it to control rodents.
Improved Feeds and Local Village Birds
Village (native) breeds of chickens are generally small and are kept primarily as
scavengers. Even though they lay a small number of eggs, they show a profit because
they do not cost anything to feed. The important consideration about poultry is not the
number of eggs they lay, but the costs involved for each dozen eggs. Improving the diet
of village birds will result in an increase in egg production, but it may not be enough to
justify the cost of purchased feeds. On the other hand, improving their diet by utilizing
waste grains and by-products will result in increased production of eggs at virtually no
cost. Remember, however, that native birds that range freely tend to "hide" their eggs,
making it difficult for the owner to gather them.
The Importance of Water
The importance of water in poultry production should never be underestimated. Many
people fail to provide adequate watering facilities, especially in hot weather. Ample
fresh water and enough space to reach it is extremely important to ensure good growth
and maximum egg production. The following chart gives the minimum space requirements
for birds during the growing and laying period:
Table 2. Waterer space requirements.
AGE IN WEEKS WATERER SPACE PER BIRD
0 - 3 1/4 linear inch (.7 cm)
3 - 8 1/2 linear inch (1.25 cm)
9 - maturity, and 3/4 linear inch (2 cm)
during laying period
Table 3. Approximate growth rates and feed and water consumption for white
egg type chickens.
Age Growth wt. Feed Consumption Water Consumption
weeks lbs(kg) lbs(kg) per 100 birds per 100 birds per day
(full feed) US gallons (liters)
per day per week
1 0.15 (.07) 3 (1.4) 20 (9.1) 0.5 (1.9)
2 0.3 (.14) 4 (1.8) 55 (25) 1.0 (3.8)
3 0.45 (.21) 6 (2.7) 100 (46) 1.5 (5.7)
4 0.6 (.27) 7 (3.2) 155 (71) 2.0 (7.6)
5 0.8 (.36) 9 (4.1) 220 (100) 2.5 (9.5)
6 1.0 (.45) 11 (5.0) 300 (136) 3.0 (11.4)
7 1.2 (.55) 12 (5.5) 390 (177) 3.5 (13.3)
8 1.4 (.64) 14 (6.4) 495 (225) 4.0 (15.2)
9 1.6 (.73) 14 (6.4) 600 (273) 4.0 (15.2)
10 1.8 (.82) 15 (6.8) 715 (325) 5.0 (18.9)
11 1.9 (.86) 16 (7.3) 830 (377) 6.0 (22.7)
12 2.1 (.95) 16 (7.3) 945 (430) 6.0 (22.7)
13 2.25 (1.02) 16 (7.3) 1065 (484) 6.0 (22.7)
14 2.4 (1.1) 16 (7.3) 1185 (539) 6.0 (22.7)
15 2.55 (1.16) 17 (7.7) 1310 (595) 6.5 (24.6)
16 2.7 (1.2) 17 (7.7) 1435 (652) 6.5 (24.6)
17 2.8 (1.26) 18 (8.2) 1565 (711) 7.0 (26.5)
18 2.9 (1.32) 18 (8.2) 1695 (770) 7.0 (26.5)
19 3.1 (1.4) 18 (8.2) 1820 (827) 7.0 (26.5)
20 3.3 (1.5) 18 (8.2) 1950 (886) 7.0 (26.5)
21 3.4 (1.55) 18 (8.2) 2080 (945) 7.0 (26.5)
22 3.5 (1.6) 19 (8.6) 2210 (1005) 7.5 (28.4)
23 3.7 (1.7) 20 (9.1) 2350 (1068) 7.5 (28.4)
24 3.9 (1.8) 21 (9.5) 2500 (1136) 8.0 (30.3)
The figures in the table are only approximations. Actual feed consumption will
depend on the strain of birds, the feed formulation, temperature, health of
the birds, and the condition of housing.
When one thinks of free-ranging poultry that find their own feed, require little care, and
provide food for the family table, one sees obvious advantages. Poultry have been kept
this way for hundreds of years. There are disadvantage, however. Most communities that
take a serious interest in their poultry practice some degree of confinement.
Letting poultry range freely is an economical way to provide them with feed. On the other
hand, it exposes them to predators and diseases. Moreover, they cannot be guaranteed
a balanced diet from just foraging. To achieve a well-balanced diet, they must be
provided with supplemental food. Overall, free-ranging chickens require less labor than
confined flocks, but when locating waste feed and pools of water they are more likely
to contract parasites, bacteria, molds, and fatal diseases like coccidiosis and Newcastle
disease (these will be discussed later). Unlike improved breeds, free-ranging village
birds incubate their own eggs and thus reproduce themselves, and because they may lay
eggs in unexpected places, many eggs are lost. Furthermore, the process of becoming
broody (incubating and hatching chicks) decreases the maximum rate of egg production.
Improved breeds of chickens tend to be poor mothers and fail to incubate their own eggs,
but they do lay lots of eggs. Confined chickens in pens or cages with clean feeders and
waterers, thus have the following advantages over free-ranging birds:
1) Better control of diseases.
2) Fewer losses of chickens to theft or predatory animals.
3) Less disturbance to vegetable gardens and neighbors' property by free-ranging
4) Easy collection of eggs.
5) Easy access to chickens for routine inspection.
6) Easy collection of manure for use in the garden.
Three types of housing have proved very successful in many parts of the world: the
slatted-floor pen, the deep-litter shed, and the metal-floor colony cage.
This system was developed by Peter Krusch for use in Sierra Leone, Africa. Slatted-floor
pens (Figure 3) are constructed on posts with floor and sides made of bush poles or split
bamboo. The roof may be of thatch or metal and should have a large overhang. If a metal
roof is used, the structure should be placed in the shade of trees or thatch should cover
the metal. Floors should be strong enough to support the weight of a person. The gap left
between each of the floor pieces should not exceed 1 inch (2.5 cm), nor be any less than
3/4 inch (2 cm) to prevent eggs from falling through, while allowing enough room for
droppings to pass through. If driver ants are a threat, the posts can be placed into cans
containing kerosene or old motor oil.
Since poultry manure is extremely rich in nitrogen it is a valuable fertilizer for gardens.
In order to collect this by-product, a slightly raised platform should be constructed below
the slatted-floor and the manure scraped off frequently.
Nests should be provided at the rate of one individual 1 ft. x 1 ft. x 1 ft. (30 cm x 30 cm
x 30 cm) nest for every five birds or one 2 ft. x 3 ft. (60 cm x 90 cm) colony nest for up
to 50 birds. Of the two types of nests, the colony nest will be more satisfactory. For the
convenience of the person collecting eggs from a slatted-floor pen, a hinged cover or
removable back board will allow access to the nests from the outside. The bottom of the
nest box should be tight enough so it can be filled to a depth of 4 inches (10 cm) with
rice hulls, sawdust, or some other soft nesting material. (See Figure 4.) Poultry must be
protected from sustained strong winds or blowing rain. This can easily be accomplished
by hanging mats, bags, or other such material over the sides of the pen when necessary.
When constructing the pen, keep in mind that each adult bird will require 2-1/2 to 3
square feet (.23 to .28 [m.sup.2]) of floor space.
This system utilizes a simple shed in which the birds are allowed to run free on a 6-8
inch (15 cm x 20 cm) layer of absorbent material, such as sawdust, rice hulls, wood
shavings, peanut (groundnut) shells, leaves, dry grass, crushed maize corn cobs, tree
The design and explanation of the deep-litter shed housing is provided by Allan McArdle
and J. N. Panda. This approach had been used successfully in many parts of India. (See
In Africa some people construct their pens using mud and sticks or mud blocks. If you
use these materials keep in mind that mud walls must be plastered with a good coat of
cement. This plaster coat is not only to facilitate cleaning, but also to prevent the chickens
from picking the mud. Provisions for adequate light and ventilation must also be taken
into consideration in the design of this type of house.
There are a number of advantages to using the deep-litter system. Poultry kept in a shed
with a bare floor have a very uninteresting life. Once they have eaten their feed they have
nothing to do and often start vices such as feather picking. With built-up deep litter in
the shed, birds have a source of constant occupation. They continually scratch in the litter
and dust bathe in it. It also allows them to counteract extremes in weather. When the
weather is hot they burrow into it to cool themselves, because the litter keeps a relatively
constant temperature and is much cooler than the surrounding air. Chickens that keep
cool lay more eggs.
After a year on deep litter the birds will have created an extremely valuable by-product,
as illustrated in Figure 6.
Table 4. Poultry Manure Information
Layers: 25 pounds per 100 per day with normal drying.
Four-tenths of a cubic foot per 100 per day.
Moisture content 75-80% as defecated.
Weight of a cubic foot of poultry manure at 70% moisture
is approximately 65 pounds.
Fertilizer Value of Poultry Manure
Pounds per Ton
Moisture % Nitrogen Phosphorous Potash
Fresh Manure 75 29 10 8
Stored Manure 63.9 24 13 16
Layer litter 22.1 50 23 36
When nitrogen is worth 25 cents per pound, phosphorous 15 cents
per pound, and potash 8 cents per pound, the values per ton of
poultry manure are:
Fresh Manure $9.39
Stored Manure 9.23
Layer litter 14.86
Other elements of plant food contained in poutry manure include
calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, chlorine, sulphur, and
Source: Univ. of New Hampshire Bulletin 444--Farm Manure
Here are a few points to remember when constructing a deep-litter shed:
1) A 15-inch (38 cm) high mud wall surrounds the 8 ft. x 8 ft. (2.44
m x 2.44 m) floor area. The floor is made of rammed earth and is
built-up 6 inches (15 cm) above ground level. If available, cheaply
produced mud bricks can be used in place of rammed earth.
2) Corner posts are cut 7 feet (2.14 m) in length, painted with tar, and
buried 2 feet (61 cm) into the ground. The ridge peak extends 8 feet
(2.45 m) above ground level.
3) Bamboo pieces or wood slats with 3-inch (7.6 cm) centers are set
9 inches (23 cm) in the mud wall and attached to the upper beam
at a 5-foot (1.5 m) level with a cross rail in between for added
strength. Bamboo beams should be tied securely. The door, measuring
3 1/2 feet x 2 feet (1.07m x .61 m) in size, is set between two
posts above the wall and opens outward.
4) The roof of thatch should be strengthened with bamboo cross-pieces
to guard against animals and should extend sufficiently on
all sides to reach within 3 feet (.9 m) of the ground. This will serve
to protect the deep-litter from heavy rains and excess sunlight. It is
very important to keep the 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) of deep litter dry
and it should be stirred every one or two weeks. When stirring, turn
the litter over thoroughly, as if digging in the garden.
5) At night chickens love to roost above the ground. This behavior is
rooted far back in time when chickens needed to perch high in trees
to protect themselves from predatory animals. Today, the use of
roost poles is advised to help control respiratory problems and
pests like ticks and blood-sucking mites. Two 4-foot (1.2 m) roost
poles suspended by wire from the four corners of the shed (or fitted
with legs) will allow sufficient space for 15 birds. The roost poles
should be at least 2 feet above the surface of the litter.
(See Figures 7 and 8.)
6) It will be easier to collect the eggs if the chickens have a nesting
area. A nest measuring 2 feet x 1 1/2 feet (.61 m x .46 m) is made
of mud (or mud blocks) and should be nearly the height of the shed
mud wall. A division wall, 6 x 9 inches (15 cm x 23 cm) high,
divides the nest into two compartments--enough space for 15
birds. A few inches (7-8 cm) of litter placed in the bottom of each
compartment will make the nest comfortable and prevent egg
Metal-Floor Colony Cage
The colony cage was designed by Harlan H.D. Attfield in Ethiopia and Mauritius for
urban and village dwellers who wish to keep a small flock of chickens for egg production.
It is particularly suited to people who have limited space around their homes. <see figure 9>
Keeping chickens in a roomy cage off the ground has several advantages, but this system
can also give rise to a few problems. With care, however, they are easily prevented. <see figure 10>
1) In some cases the birds' droppings won't dry fast enough to avoid the breeding of
flies. Manure should be removed weekly when such pests are troublesome.
2) Since limited space inclines chickens to cannibalism, they should be debeaked, and
preferably before the onset of egg production. The process of debeaking is probably
more discomforting to the poultry grower than to the bird. Debeaking is in no way
harmful to the bird and is the only sure method of controlling cannibalism.
This operation is easily done on a young bird by removing the tip of the upper beak--just
in front of the pad--with a sharp knife, scissors, or side-cutters. To prevent
bleeding and infection, cauterize the wound by placing a hot knife against the cut
Mr. Krusch recommends another method: Open the bird's mouth and place it over
a rigid 3/4 inch (2 cm) board as shown in the diagram (Figure 12). With a sharp knife
that has been heated to a dull red, cut the beak as shown. The hot blade will cauterize
the wound. The tip of the lower beak is best removed by pressing the hot blade
against it until the tip has been seared back. Care must be taken in both cases not to
injure the tongue.
3) The cage should be placed in a shaded area to protect it from direct sunlight when
temperatures are high. This is very important because the sheet-iron roof is an
efficient conductor of heat. On windy or rainy days burlap bags can be hung over
the front of the cage. According to some interesting test results, higher egg
production can be maintained by protecting layers from wind, particularly during
cold winter months.
A colony cage measuring 7 1/2 feet x 3 feet (2.3 m x.92 m) provides brooding, growing,
and laying facilities for 10 to 12 birds, enough to produce at least half a dozen eggs a day,
which is more than sufficient for the average family. In fact, if some eggs are sold during
the year to friends and neighbors, the money received will pay for most of the feed and
the cost of the baby chicks. When chickens become too old to produce eggs, the family
can eat them or sell a few in the market for extra income.
The colony cage illustrated in this book <see figures 13 and 14> was built with the following materials:
1) Packing crate boards (for back, sides, removable partition, central wall
supports, and nest-box frame)
2) Five eucalyptus poles (two 60-inch-long (1.52 m) posts for the front
uprights, two 54-inch (1.37 m) poles for the back, and an 8-foot (2.44 m)
3) 50 feet (15.25 m) of 1 x 3 (2.5 cm x 7.5 cm) lumber strips (frame)
4) 8 feet (2.4 m) of heavy wire mesh, 3/4 inch (2 cm) square or 3/4 x 1 inch (2
cm x 2.5 cm) rectangular for floor
5) 10 feet (3 m) of 1/2 inch square (1.3 cm) galvanized mesh not the flimsy
round type (doors and nest-box floor)
6) Two raisin crates or light boxes (nest boxes)
7) One sheet of galvanized iron (roof), 8 feet x 3 feet (2.44 m x .92 m).
Aluminum, which reflects the heat of the sun, is also good roofing material
for use in the tropics.
8) 2-inch (5 cm) straight nails, 3/4-inch (2 cm) U nails, flat-headed galvanized
roofing nails, hinges
(See Appendix 3 for a detailed blueprint showing how to construct a colony cage.)
To prevent sagging in a stretched wire floor, a loop-wire support is recommended.
Simply attach a piece of strong wire around the nest-box support nearest the center door
and loop it through the wire floor, as shown in Figure 17.
Colony cages can also be made from bamboo. The frame is made of small poles, with
floor poles raised about 3 feet (.92 m) from the ground. The floor poles are covered with
large bamboo stalks, split into strips 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide with the gap left between
each of the floor pieces not exceeding 1 inch (2.5 cm) and not less than 3/4 inch (2 cm)
to prevent eggs from falling through, yet large enough to allow droppings to pass
through. Walls are constructed from vertical strips of bamboo 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide,
spaced 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) to 2 inches (5 cm) apart. (See Figure 19.) Finally, the whole
structure can be covered with a thatch or iron-sheet roof. Tin shields on the support poles
will keep rats and other pests from climbing up the poles. (See Figure 18.)
The cage on which these plans are based was fitted with a roost pole, which although isn't
absolutely necessary, pleases the hens and gets them off the cold wire at night. Such a
pole should be painted twice with crankcase oil that has been diluted half-and-half with
kerosene, to repel blood-sucking mites.
The two nest boxes--which are adequate for 10 to 12 layers--must be kept darkened
with a burlap blind to encourage use by the hens, since birds seek privacy and darkness
at laying time. (See Figure 15.) The 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) square mesh of the nest floor will
give a bit under the occupant's weight and prevents the egg from cracking when dropped.
One disadvantage of the conventional hen house is that eggs often accumulate in the
nests and are sat on and kept warm by other hens entering the box. Naturally, the quality
of the layings deteriorates very quickly under these conditions, and cracks and breakage
often result. In the colony cage, this problem is eliminated by using a slanting nest-box
floor that rolls the freshly laid eggs to an open air shelf. (See Figure 16.) The eggs will
cool quickly and can be gathered whenever convenient.
Feeders and Waterers
Many different types of feeders and waterers can be used. They can be made of wood,
bamboo, or metal. If feeders are not properly constructed, the birds can easily waste more
food than they eat! Spilled food means increased costs, and this cannot be tolerated.
Waterers should remain clean at all times to prevent diseases.
Most people start their poultry project with chicks that are just a few days old. For the
first two weeks of age the chicks can be fed from shallow troughs, pans (such as pie
plates), or a solid bottom cardboard box cutdown to a 1-inch (2.5 cm) lip placed directly
on the floor. At two weeks of age you should provide properly constructed feeders and
waterers that prevent spillage and waste. Figure 20 through 24 show several designs. The
gravity waterer and V-shaped feeder are recommended because these designs give
excellent results. The gravity waterer is excellent for all three types of housing since its
large volume ensures less work and plenty of clean, fresh water for the flock. A
particularly good design is shown in Figure 24. The peaked roof prevents birds from
resting on top of the container.
The V-shaped feeders are nearly waste-proof and filth-proof and hold more feed than the
flat-bottom feeders. For the colony cage a good feed container for older birds is a trough
feeder fitted on the inside of the middle door. (See Figure 30.) By making this unit deep
and filling it only half-full, you can reduce wastage by beak-swinging hens.
In some countries local metal workers make gravity feeders that can be hung from the
ceiling of the shed or cage. If these are used, the bottom of the feeder should be positioned
at least 5 inches (12.5 cm) above the floor.
Here are several types of feeders that can be easily made. (see figure 25-29)
CARING FOR CHICKENS
There are three ways to start your project: by buying day-old chicks, started chicks, or
ready-to-lay pullets (female birds).
Day-old chicks will have to be kept warm under a brooder for several weeks. Started
chicks are generally two months old, eliminating the need for home brooding, but they
are very costly compared to day-old chicks.
Ready-to-lay pullets are five to six months old. They are very expensive, because the
grower passes the overall cost of feeding and care on to you.
For our purposes, day-old chicks should be purchased from a reputable government or
private hatchery. Day-old chicks come in two categories: sexed and straight run. With
sexed chicks the females have been separated from the males (cockerels). Sexing chicks
is difficult, but ensures getting mainly females. (5-10 percent of the females will turn
out to be males due to sexing errors.
Straight-run chicks are the cheapest of all. A batch will usually contain 50 percent of each
sex. If you wish to keep a laying flock of 12-15 birds you will have to start with at least
25-30 chicks. If straight-run chicks have been purchased, separate the two sexes as soon
as you can tell them apart. Place cockerels in a separate pen. They are easy to recognize
by their distinct comb and wattle development. These differences usually show up on
White Leghorns and other light breeds before four weeks of age; in heavy breeds, before
six weeks. Get rid of the cockerels as soon as they are heavy enough to be eaten or sold.
The feed consumed per pound of gain goes up as birds get larger, and it is a rare case when
cockerels can be raised profitably.
Chicks from commercial hatcheries will often be packed in a specially designed box.
These boxes have small holes in the top and sides that can be punched out for better
ventilation. Under tropical conditions, all of these holes should be punched out.
In hot weather chick boxes must never be stacked or kept in the sun or near other heat
sources. When transporting by auto or lorry, check the floor under the boxes, as it may
become extremely hot after several hours of driving. Additionally, take care to avoid
wind and drafts. Needless to say, be sure to keep the boxes horizontal.
Under normal conditions chicks can survive their first 72 hours of transport without food
or water. If there is a prolonged delay, they will have to be given water. This can be done
by placing very shallow jar lids or the like in the boxes. Feed may be sprinkled directly
into the boxes.
When brooding chicks on a small scale, very satisfactory results may be had by simply
partitioning off a portion of a room within the home. One-half square foot (232 [cm.sup.2]) per
chick will be more than adequate until the birds are six weeks old. A covering layer of
litter (any dry moisture absorbent material such as sawdust, rice hulls, peanut shells, or
sand) 1 1/2 to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) deep, is placed on the floor of the brooding area. If
chickens have previously been kept in the area intended for brooding, the space must be
well cleaned, disinfected, and left to air out and dry prior to putting the litter down.
A brooding device, such as those shown in Figures 31 and 32, should be placed in the
center of the brooding area. The brooder should be lit 24 hours prior to the arrival of the
When using the colony cage, chicks are started in the left-hand compartment with the
removable wall in place. Newspaper, a jute bag, or a plastic sheet is placed on the wire
floor and covered with about 2 inches (5 cm) of absorbent material to keep the young
birds dry and clean. A cardboard box, as shown in Figure 32, fitted with a 60-watt electric
light bulb is placed in the rear of the compartment. Some people prefer to use kerosene
lanterns, which are not subject to power failures and bulb burnouts. For seven to eight
weeks the chicks are confined to the left-hand section of the cage. After that the box and
litter can be removed and birds given the run of the cage.
Feeders and waterers should also be filled and placed in the brooding area near the
outside edges of the brooder prior to the arrival of the chicks. Waterers, pans, or other
receptacles should have some type of guard on them to prevent the chicks from getting
into the water and drowning or completely wetting their feathers. A simple wire-mesh
grid can be used to cover pans or a dome-cage as shown in Figure 22. Gravity waterers
are by far the best choice.
Feed, preferably in crumble form, can be placed in a cardboard box (one 18 inch x 24
inch [46 cm x 61 cm] box per 50 chickens) that has been cut down so that it has a lip of
approximately 1 inch (2.4 cm). Shallow pans can also be used. Only enough feed to last
24 hours should be placed in the container; the residue is dumped in the litter and fresh
feed supplied. One-half cup of coarse clean sand, grit, or tiny pebbles for every 25 chicks
should be sprinkled on top of the feed once a week. The sand is used by the birds to help
grind food in the gizzard.
Adequate feeder space is critical to the uniform development of birds. After two weeks,
when regular feeders are used--at the rate of 2 1/2 linear inches (6.4 cm) of feeder space
per bird--they should be kept full of feed at all times, and only cleaned out occasionally.
After 10 weeks a minimum of 4 linear inches (10 cm) of feeder space per bird should be
provided. Care should be taken to remove all objects that chicks might jump into, or
catch a wing or leg on, get caught in, under, or behind.
Some mortality (0-3 percent) will occur during the first week and can be attributed to
internally malformed chicks, or poor handling during hatching or while in transit. Some
hatcheries give an extra 4 percent of chicks to help cover the loss.
Care must be taken during the first several weeks to avoid frightening the chicks, as this
may cause them to panic and all run into a corner, where they pile on top of one another
and smother. It is advisable to develop the habit of knocking on the door to the brooding
area before entering. Dogs, cats, rats, and especially other chickens, must be kept away.
Chicks must be protected against chilling and overheating. The temperature under the
brooder should be 90[degrees]F (32[degrees]C); in the third week the temperature can be reduced to 80,
to 85[degrees]F (26.5 to 29.5[degrees]C). More can be learned by observing the chicks in the evening as
they settle down than by using a thermometer. If they are evenly distributed around the
edges of the brooder, conditions are good. If they are scattered out away from the
brooder, the temperature is too hot. Inversely, if they are closely packed under the
brooder, conditions are either too cold or drafty.
Whether chicks are comfortable or not during the day can be determined by chick "talk."
Well-fed, comfortable chicks show their contentment in a low-toned "cheep." If
uncomfortable from damp litter, hunger, or thirst, their "talk" is rapid and shrill.
Ventilation should be good, but drafts or chill air must be avoided. Sometimes air guards
are needed to protect chicks against drafts. (See Figure 33.) As chicks grow, more
ventilation will be needed.
The litter should not be allowed to become damp. If it becomes at all damp, it should be
stirred up, added to, or replaced. Most dampness problems come from poor ventilation.
As the chicks feather out, the brooder heat can be reduced gradually by turning down the
lamps. The chicks should be fully feathered and completely weaned from the brooder by
the eighth week. In the tropics or at times of the year when the nights are warm, brooder
heat may not be necessary after the first week.
Chicks may at times develop vices such as picking their toes, feathers, or vents. This
problem is usually triggered by overheating or something else wrong with the environment
or management. Careful evaluation of the environment and daily routine should be
Chicks may also begin to peck at each other, and may kill each other. Immediate attention
must be given to control cannibalism, otherwise high percentages of mortality will
result. Picked birds showing any signs of wounds or blood should be taken out of the pen
and not returned until completely healed. Some things that can be tried to stop an
outbreak of cannibalism are: darkening the pen if possible; adding a small amount of salt
to the water every second day, giving the birds some distraction by putting "toys" in the
pen such as small pieces of newspaper, straw, or green leaves. If all else fails, the birds
can be debeaked.
In the tropics during the dry season a situation known as "pasting up" can occur quite
easily when the fecal material passing out of a chick accumulates around the vent, dries,
and blocks further passage. To treat, carefully try to crush accumulated matter with
fingers (do not pick) or wash with warm water into which a few drops of iodine have been
added. Diseases that affect chicks will be discussed later.
The growing period in a pullet's life is from the time it is weaned from dependency on
artificial heat until the time it reaches sexual maturity and is ready to begin laying eggs.
Light weight breeds begin laying at approximately 21 weeks of age, and heavier breeds
begin two weeks later.
A prudent person will spend some amount of time each week observing the flock and
asking: Are some birds being crowded away from feed and water? Is the feed depth in
the troughs proper? Has stale, picked over feed accumulated in the bottom? Is the feed
depth great enough for birds with grown out lower beaks to get enough feed? Are the
feeder reels set in proper position? Care must be taken to ensure that birds always have
adequate ventilation, pen, feeder, and waterer space. The following chart gives the
recommended space adequate for birds during the growing and laying period:
Table 5. Pen, waterer, and feeder space requirements.
Age in weeks Space
0-6 1/2 sq. ft. (.023 [m.sup.2])
7-12 1 sq. ft. (.093 [m.sup.2])
13-16 2 sq. ft. (.37 [m.sup.2])
17-during laying period 3 sq. ft. (.84 [m.sup.2])
Age in weeks Water
0-3 1/4 linear inch (.7 cm)
3-8 1/2 linear inch (1.25 cm)
8-during laying period 3/4 linear inch (2 cm)
Age in weeks Feeder
0-2 two 18 in. x 24 in. x 1 in. cartons per 100
(46 cm x 61 cm x 2.5 cm)
2-10 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm) of intermediate feeder
10-during laying period 4 inches (10.2 cm)
Growing birds are subject to the same vices as chicks in the brooding period, and the
same means of control are used. Some people routinely debeak all their birds when they
reach 17 to 18 weeks of age to prevent cannibalism.
During the growing period the birds should be observed closely for proper development.
It is not economical to keep weaklings; they should be disposed of without hesitation
because they will never do well. The greatest hazard to the birds during the growing
period is an outbreak of coccidiosis (See Diseases and Their Control).
Birds should begin to lay at around 21 to 22 weeks of age, earlier in the case of a few,
or later in the heavier breeds or if the flock is growing slowly due to illness or other
management factors. A good laying bird, properly managed, should lay 19 to 20 dozen
eggs during a laying cycle, usually 12 to 14 months. Any eggs not consumed by your
family can be sold to neighbors for extra income. There is also the possibility of an
occasional meal of chicken when poor producers are culled (removed) from the flock.
The rate of lay of a flock is figured by dividing the number of eggs laid in one day by the
number of layers. Birds should climb from a 6 percent rate of lay at 22 weeks of age to
a peak of around 86 percent at 30 weeks. Thereafter, there will be a steady decline in egg
production as can be seen in Figure 34.
It is extremely important that an ample supply of good feed and water always be available
to birds during the laying period. The highly sophisticated breeding behind commercially
hatched chickens will cause the individual bird to continue to lay at the expense
of its own body weight until there is such a marked drop in its weight that it will go out
of production completely for a long period of time.
Because commercial feeds cost money, there must be a return in eggs for the food given
to chickens. Hens will "show" if they are laying eggs by the amount of coloring
(pigmentation) displayed on various parts of their bodies. Before the pullets start laying
there is a visible yellow color or pigment in the vent, eye ring, beak, and shank of the
yellow skinned breeds, which becomes bleached during egg production. The yellow
color comes from feed eaten by the birds, and is the same material that colors the yolk
of the egg. This coloring goes into the eggs, and later fades from various parts of the hens'
bodies as they lay more eggs. (See Figure 35.) After about six to nine eggs have been
laid the yellow color fades from the vent, which is the first to bleach. In many cases the
production of about a dozen to 15 eggs will bleach the eye ring. The ear lobes bleach a
little more slowly than the eye rings. The beak requires from four to six weeks and the
production of from 30 to 40 eggs. The beak loses color first at the base until it finally
leaves the point of the beak. The shanks require the production of from 125 to 175 eggs
to be completely bleached. As soon as the hen ceases to lay, the color returns to the
various parts in the order in which it disappeared, but in a shorter time than it took to fade
Keep in mind that birds with free access to green plants or lots of yellow maize (corn)
will not bleach out as rapidly as birds lacking these feeds, whether or not they are laying.
Another way to distinguish layers from nonlayers is to examine the spread of the pelvic
bones. (See Figure 36.) Birds with a spread of only one or two fingers are not good layers
and should be disposed of. With the aid of a weak light, you might try culling after dark
when the birds are quietly settled on their roosts. A summary of characteristics of layers
and nonlayers is shown in Table 6.
Table 6. Characteristics of layers and nonlayers; high and low producers
CHARACTERISTIC OF LAYERS AND NONLAYERS
Character Laying Hen Nonlaying Hen
Comb Large, red, waxy, full Small, pale, scaly,shrunken
Wattles Large, prominent Small, contracted
Vent Large, moist Dry, puckered
Abdomen Full, soft, velvety, Shallow or full of hard fat
Pubic Bones Flexible, wide open Stiff, close together
CHARACTERISTIC OF HIGH AND LOW PRODUCERS
Character High Producers Low Producers
Vent Bleached, large, oval Yellow, dry, round,
Eye Ring Bleached Yellow-tinted
Beak Bleached or bleaching Yellow or growing yellow
Shanks Pale yellow to white, Yellowish, round, full
Head Clean-cut, bright red, Coarse or overrefined,
balanced dull, long, flat
Eyes Prominent, bright, sunken, listless
Face Clean-cut, lean, free Sunken or beefy, full
from yellow color yellowish, feathered
Body Deep Shallow
Back Wide, width carried Narrow, tapering,
out to pubic bones pinched
Plumage Worn, dry, soiled Smooth, glossy, unsoiled
Molt Late molter Early molter
Carriage Active and alert Lazy and listless
Source: Culling For High Egg Production,
Vermont. Agricultural Extention Service, Circular 115Ru
Once each year chickens will renew their plumage (feathers). The process of replacing
old feathers with new ones is called molting. When a hen starts to molt she will stop
laying eggs. Hens that start their molt early, after eight or nine months of production, are
called early molters. Other hens lay for 12 to 15 months before they molt, and are called
late molters. To make a high egg record, hens must molt late in the year and renew their
feathers in eight to ten weeks. Hens that molt early in the year may take six months to
renew their feathers. Figure 36 shows the order in which slow and fast molters lose their
primary wing feathers. A slow-molting hen will drop just one primary feather at a time
over a long period of time. With good strains of laying birds, the hens will drop a group
of several primaries and then very shortly after drop more, thus going through their molt
quickly and returning to production. Although most birds will stop laying during their
molt, some of the best strains will renew half or more of their primary feathers before
they finally stop laying.
The first year of laying is always the highest period of production, and because egg
production declines with each succeeding year, many poultry experts advise backyard
poultry farmers to replace the entire flock on a yearly basis. If hens are kept for a second
year, only the best should be kept. All the hens should be sold or eaten by the end of their
second laying year.
If you use the colony cage, replace the partition (removable wall) when the hens'
production declines and prepare for a new batch of chicks. Reducing the floor space
available to the hens while the chicks are growing will not be a problem.
Laying hens will on occasion "go broody." They will persist in sitting on their eggs in
an instinctive attempt to hatch them (not a problem with the colony cage). A bird in this
condition will gather eggs under her, sit on them, ruffle her feathers, and peck at anyone
trying to dislodge her. Such a broody hen should be isolated with feed and water in a small
separate pen or box that has a floor of wire or thin slats. The air circulating under and
around the bird will frustrate her instinctive attempt to make a warm nest, and she will
probably be broken of broodiness in a few days, after which she can be returned to the
Handling Eggs and Meat
You control everything that happens to an egg from the time it is laid until it is eaten or
sold. The production of high-quality eggs requires careful attention to a few details to
avoid heat damage, cracks, and dirt. No elaborate equipment is necessary.
Eggs should be gathered at least twice a day throughout the year, and more often in hot
weather. Frequent gathering not only helps prevent deterioration due to heat, but reduces
the proportion of cracked, broken, and dirty eggs. (See Figure 37.)
Nests should have an adequate supply of clean nesting material in them at all times
(except colony cage nests which have slanted wire bottoms). Dirty eggs should never be
washed, but should be cleaned by lightly rubbing with fine sandpaper. As soon as the
eggs have been gathered, they should be taken to a cool place and kept there until sold
or eaten. Eggs still warm from the nest should be left in an open, coarsely-woven basket
or tray until they have cooled. Rapid cooling is an important step in preserving quality
and can be aided by allowing air to circulate around each egg. The range of temperature
in which eggs may be held is from 29[degrees]F to 60[degrees]F (- 1.5[degrees] to 15.5[degrees]C). At temperatures above
60[degrees]F (15.5[degrees]C) deterioration can be thought of as comparable to the effect of heat on
butter. The fact that cooled eggs will attract condensation when they are returned to a
warm environment is of no consequence. Preferably, eggs should be refrigerated. In
tropical areas without refrigeration egg storage may be a problem. A large crock or a
section of culvert may be sunk in the ground in a room on the north side of a building
to form a suitable holding place. Eggs may become tainted by strong odors and should
never be stored in any place that smells musty or of kerosene. Eggs not consumed at home
should be marketed at least twice a week, more often if possible.
Kill chickens the same day the meat is to be used unless are frigerator is available to keep
it from spoiling. To kill chickens, hang them by their feet and cut across the veins in the
throat with a sharp knife. Let all the blood drain into a container. The blood can be
cooked, dried, and added to feed for other chickens (some people cook with the blood).
To remove feathers, place the bird (after it has been bled) in water at 130[degrees] to 135[degrees]F (54[degrees]
to 57[degrees]C). This temperature is below boiling, but too hot to put your hand in. As soon as
the feathers are well soaked with hot water, pluck them as quickly as possible. A small
amount of soap or detergent in the water will help wet the feathers. Small feathers can
be seared over an open flame.
To remove the internal organs, cut a small circle around the vent. Cut down towards the
breast making an opening large enough to insert your fingers and pull out the intestines.
Don't forget to remove the crop and trachea in the throat area. Be sure to save and eat
the heart, liver, and gizzard. (See Figure 38.) The gizzard should be sliced open and the
contents removed and discarded. The gall bladder (a small sac filled with liquid) should
be carefully cut away from the liver before cooking, taking care not to break the sac.
It is natural for some people to become attached to their birds. They view them more as
pets than food for the table. Nonetheless, the object of raising poultry is to provide more
food and possibly earn a little extra income. Try to keep this in mind throughout the
project. If you find it impossible to kill your chickens, you can always sell them in the
DISEASES AND THEIR CONTROL
It is always best to prevent disease before it occurs, because treating disease can be very
difficult. Dr. H.R. Bird offers the following advice:
1) Feeding chickens a well-balanced diet will prevent them from developing nutritional
diseases. Leaving out even one vitamin or mineral can produce slow growth,
susceptibility to disease, and high mortality.
2) Whether a chicken flock is large or small, it is a good idea to keep it separated as
much as possible from other poultry (ducks, geese, turkeys, etc.). Do not buy adult
or half-grown birds and add them to your flock. Always raise young birds
separately from mature stock.
3) Provide poultry with clean waterers and feeders and well-ventilated housing.
4) For birds housed in pens, provide sufficient ventilation to keep the litter dry enough
so the birds can scratch in it. It should never become wet or sticky. Wet litter around
waterers should be replaced. Stir litter at least once a week.
5) Isolate sick birds from the main flock immediately. Bury dead bird deeply.
6) Keep rodents (rats and mice) and unfriendly animals away from the flock.
7) If your birds are housed in cages, the cages should be constructed with wire netting
or slats to allow the manure to fall through to the ground.
8) Observe nest boxes. Clean when necessary and add fresh nesting material.
9) Protect chickens from intense sun, rain, and drafts.
10) Give fresh greens to chickens at least once or twice a week.
11) Follow the vaccination program recommended by your agricultural extensionist or
veterinary officer. (See Table 7.)
In case of serious outbreaks of disease, Mr. Krusch advises that a thorough diagnosis be
done by a qualified person, such as a veterinarian or pathologist. It is preferable that the
post-mortem examination and diagnosis be conducted in a laboratory where microscopes
and other apparatus are available. It is best if live sick chickens can be taken to
the laboratory for examination. Along with the chickens take complete information
concerning the nature of the disease outbreak, the number of birds affected, and general
history of the flock. It is not advisable for the inexperienced poultry raiser to attempt to
diagnose any illness other than coccidiosis and worms. Generally, a person qualified to
make a diagnosis can also make suggestions on the cause and treatment of the trouble.
It would be impossible to list all the diseases and problems that affect poultry in a
publication of this type. However, following is a description of the more commonly
This is a potentially deadly disease caused by a bacteria (Salmonella pullorum) that
usually affects chicks under three weeks of age. It is transmitted from infected hens
through their eggs to the chicks. Although there is no cure for this disease, it can be
prevented. Always make sure you buy chicks from hatcheries that maintain pullorum-free
breeding stock. Reputable hatcheries test for pullorum and practice good sanitation.
This bacterial disease is also known as hemorrhagic septicemia. The disease is passed
through the droppings of infected birds. In severe cases, the bird may die in a period of
from 12 to 24 hours. Birds may appear to be normal one day and be found dead the next
day. Birds become weak and droopy, sitting with their eyes closed and necks contracted.
Upon autopsy the heart and lungs often have hemorrhages and red spots. This disease
is best prevented through a vaccination program.
The greatest hazard to the birds during the growing period is an outbreak of coccidiosis,
an infection caused by one or more species of a group of protozoan organisms known
as coccidia. (See Figure 39.) The first signs of coccidiosis are paling and low vitality.
Feathers begin to look rough and dull. Gradually, the birds will droop and stand hunched
with heads drawn and tails hanging. Affected birds are apt to crowd together. Diarrhea
may or may not accompany the disease. Blood will begin to appear in the feces
approximately four days after the original infection.
If the symptoms are recognized in time, the outbreak can be quickly and effectively
controlled by the use of any good coccidiostat used in the water. Since coccidiosis strikes
extremely fast, especially under hot, humid conditions, it is strongly recommended that
anyone intending to keep poultry locate and obtain several days' supply of a coccidiostat
at the time the chicks are purchased. Coccidiostats and directions for their use are usually
available at dispensaries, pharmacies, agricultural extension stations, or veterinary
This is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads rapidly from bird to bird.
In chicks the most common symptoms are gasping, coughing, and hoarse chirps. Loss
of appetite and a tendency to huddle are also common indications. Laying flocks often
become infected all at once. They display a characteristic symptom--backward twisting
of the head. Egg production falls to almost zero and the shells are often soft. The best way
to prevent this disease is through vaccination. Many government hatcheries will
vaccinate their chicks against this disease before selling them to the public.
The presence of worms in poultry will cause poor growth and lower egg production.
Prevention through the use of good sanitation is the best cure for all kinds of worms.
Worms are generally not a problem when wire or slatted floors are used. If worms are
suspected and show up in the intestinal tract during a post-mortem examination, the flock
should be wormed immediately and every 30 days thereafter. Piperazine citrate is the
basic active ingredient in mostworm medicines sold for use in cattle, swine, poultry, and
even humans. Since different manufacturers package the drug in varying concentrations
it is best to follow the manufacturers recommended dosages per weight; if the manufacturer
recommends a 5cc dose for a 40-pound child and the birds weigh 4 pounds each,
5cc will treat 10 birds. Water should be withheld from the birds three hours prior to
treatment. The required amount of medication is then mixed with enough water to last
the birds 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Provide clean, fresh water as soon as the medicated water is
finished. <see figure 40>
Lice and Mites
Lice are biting insects that cause the birds a great deal of suffering. They cause irritation
of the skin with scab formation. The most common louse affecting adult birds is the body
louse. (See Figure 41.) When the birds are badly infested, growth and egg production can
suffer. Several medicines (dusting powders) can be used to control lice (Carbaryl is
Mites are also biting pests which usually live in the cracks and crevices of the poultry
house and attack the birds at night. They are often very prevalent on roost poles. One of
the best ways of controlling mites is to use a spray containing equal parts waste crankcase
oil and kerosene. It should be thoroughly applied to the building, the roost poles, and
equipment (except feeders and waterers). This is a good yet inexpensive practice and
should be done as a matter of course.
Records need not be complicated, but anyone who keeps poultry should keep records.
Simple records will help you keep track of the performance of hens from when they first
start to lay through their final weeks of production. It is very important to keep an
accurate account of total expenses and income from eggs and meat. Figures 42 and 43
show sample records that will be of value to the home producer of chickens and ducks.
The percentage, or rate of lay, of a chicken flock can easily be converted into feed cost
per dozen eggs by using the information contained in Figure 44.
Illustrations by Marina Maspero
SELECTING A BREED OF DUCK
There are many different breeds of ducks. The one you select will depend upon the
purpose for which it is to be raised. If ducks are kept mainly for a little extra meat, then
local village ducks or Muscovy ducks can be used. If your interest is in a breed that
produces lots of eggs, then the best choice might be the Khaki Campbell, Thai, or Indian
Runner. Other breeds offer combinations of high egg and meat production.
Local Village Ducks
For centuries people have been keeping local breeds, particularly for their excellent
quality meat. They are a good choice breed for the beginner, as they are very resistant
to bad weather and periods when feed is in short supply. Village ducks are very good at
foraging for their own food. Unfortunately, their legs are so short that their bodies almost
touch the ground, and they have difficulty walking long distances. (See Figure 1.)
Generally they lay only 60 to 80 eggs a year.
This duck was produced in England by a breeder named Mrs. Campbell, who crossed
English and Indian ducks. They are khaki colored--light yellowish brown--and are
about the same size as village ducks, except they are more slender with slightly longer
legs. (See Figure 2.) The average weight of each duck is 1 1/2 to 2 kilograms (3.3 to 4.4
lbs.). They stand tall and are able to walk long distances in search of food. The male has
a dark brown lower back, tail feathers, head, and neck. The upper back is greenish-black
and the rest of his plumage is khaki. The legs and toes are brown. A single duck is capable
of laying 250 to 300 or more eggs a year.
This duck holds its body almost straight from feet to head. The Indian Runner is second
only to the Khaki Campbell in egg production and a single duck will lay 250 or more eggs
per year. Generally these ducks are pure white with orange to reddish-orange feet and
legs. Both males and females weigh approximately 1 1/2 to 2 kilograms (3.3 to 4.4 lbs.).
The male is large, about 4 to 5 kilograms (8.8 to 11 lbs.), and the female weighs about
1 kilogram (2.2 lbs.) less. Red, fleshy lumps of skin are present around the beak and eyes.
Plummage usually ranges from white to black and white, and they have a crest of feathers
on the top of the head that can be raised or lowered at will. Unlike the other breeds
mentioned, these ducks are good fliers and will often perch on walls or buildings. While
the females are poor layers, they do sit on their eggs to hatch them and make very good
mothers. Approximately 10 to 25 eggs will be laid three times a year. Muscovy ducks
are excellent for small farms as they are very good foragers and can raise their own
young. The eggs of the Muscovy take five weeks to hatch instead of the four weeks
required by other ducks. The Muscovy male will often mate with females of other breeds
of ducks; the crossbreed that results is generally fast growing and makes an excellent
market item. Unfortunately, this type of breeding results in sterile ducks; and although
the males may be seen to mate with female ducks, the eggs produced are all infertile; the
female cross does not lay eggs at all.
This is a large duck weighing about 3 1/2 to 4 kilograms (7.7 to 8.8 lbs.) at adult age.
Under good feeding conditions it can reach a weight of 3 kilograms (6.6 lbs.) in just eight
weeks. Because these ducks are so attractive they are often kept by town people as pets.
The duck's bill is an orange-yellow color, its legs and feet a reddish-yellow color, and
it has yellow skin. The White Peking is not a good layer, but can produce from 100 to
150 eggs a year. It is a poor setter and seldom raises a brood (family) of ducklings.
This is the commercial breed used in Thailand for egg production. They have long necks
and narrow bodies and range in color from white to black, although most are some shade
of brown or khaki. These ducks are excellent foragers, moving from place to place in
search of food. They will lay around 150 to 200 eggs a year.
Often an excellent duck results from crossing two different breeds of ducks. One of the
best crosses results from breeding a male Khaki Campbell or Thai with a female village
duck. The product is a duck well suited to local weather conditions and able to lay many
more eggs than the pure village duck. They will often lay 100 to 200 or more eggs a year.
PREPARING TO RAISE DUCKS
If you are planning to raise ducks, the first thing to look for is duck feed. Duck raising
is recommended to people living near ocean bays, marshes, rivers, lakes, or flooded
lowlands. In these places lots of natural feed, such as snails, mussels, crabs, slugs,
insects, and water plants are available. Another important point to remember is the need
for medicines. The main diseases affecting ducks are fowl cholera and duck plague.
Check with your nearest agricultural extension officer to see if vaccines and other
medicines are available. Without a good vaccination program the whole flock could be
destroyed in a few days. There are a few simple rules to follow in order to raise ducks
* Provide plenty of good feed.
* Begin with healthy ducks.
* Vaccinate against disease.
* Give ducks good care.
It is always best to begin any project by studying and understanding all parts of it first,
and you should read through all the information in this publication before taking any
steps. The following two points are very important.
The Need for Feed
Successful duck raising depends a great deal on a good location where the ducks can find
a year-round supply of natural feed. If ducks are kept in such an area and correct
management is practiced, a profit can be made. Long before you get your ducks you must
decide how you will feed them. Will they be able to find feed all year long? Will you have
to buy feed? What natural feeds are available? Ducks will eat:
snails earthworms fallen rice
slugs insects rice bran
small crabs water plants rice polish
fish weed seeds wheat bran
mussels water hyacinth sesame oil cake
Natural feeds are best and ducks do much better when allowed to forage on their own
rather than penned-up and fed a mixed ration. If ducks must be raised in confinement,
they can be fed chicken rations using the guidelines in Section One (Preparing to Raise
Chickens) and in Appendix 1. Commercially-milled duck feeds are generally not
available in many countries.
Almost any type of simple housing can be used for ducks. (See Figure 3.) About one
square foot (.093 [m.sup.2]) should be allowed per duck, but if the house is well ventilated and
kept clean, as little as a half that may be allowed.
Some sort of litter, such as sand, rice husks, wood ashes, or straw, should be spread over
the floor. When the litter becomes wet and dirty it should be replaced with fresh material;
the old litter can then be added to a compost pile or mixed into the garden soil. Where
litter is in short supply, it can be dried in the sun and used again.
Ducks will lay their eggs on the floor, but if a few shallow pits are dug along the sides
of the wall and then lined with straw or rice husk, the eggs will stay fairly clean.
To prevent wild animals from burrowing in and killing the ducks it is a good idea to drive
closely spaced bamboo stakes into the ground all around the house, or surround the walls
with wire-netting sunk into the ground to about a foot (30 cm) in depth.
Some people herd their ducks long distances in search of food and may spend several
weeks away from home with their birds. At night the ducks sleep in open fields with just
a low wall made of bamboo or mats to keep them in. They may even be allowed to sleep
unconfined, but a caretaker should always sleep nearby. This type of management is
usually practiced by people maintaining large flocks of ducks (100 or more).
If possible, a beginner should start with older ducks, which do not require much careful
treatment. Try to buy ducks that have been vaccinated for fowl cholera and duck plague
so losses from these diseases will be minimal. The source of ducks depends upon the
area. In some places ducks are available from another duck raiser or perhaps from private
organizations and government farms. Wherever the ducks come from, they must be
checked very carefully before they are taken home. Remember that it is not possible to
breed and raise healthy ducks unless the ducks you begin with are good ducks.
Selecting Adult Egg Layers
Do not buy ducks that are too old. A duck will lay well for three years, but her first year
is the best. It is easy to identify a good egg-layer. Her feathers will be dull in color and
frayed (worn down or broken). The back of her head will have been picked bare of
feathers by the mating males and her beak will be very pale or flesh colored. A poor layer
of equal age will be very attractive with bright shiny feathers and a yellow beak.
Buying Young Ducks (2 to 5 months old)
When selecting young ducks pick those with the clearest, roundest eyes; tight, shiny
feathers; a broad abdomen; erect posture; and a long thin neck. A fat, short-bodied duck
will probably be a poor layer. A duck carries herself low to the ground, but a good egg-laying
duck carries herself very erect. (See Figures 1 and 2.) Everything about a good
egg-laying duck is long and slender. Males may be selected in a similar manner, although
breadth of abdomen is not so important. Special care should be taken in selecting the
male, called a drake, for only one is needed to mate seven to ten females. If you purchase
female crossbreeds, be sure the males are of a pure improved breed to ensure good quality
Another way to start is by purchasing day-old ducklings from a hatchery. Select active
ducklings with bright clean eyes and dry feathers. Sometimes ducklings are born too
weak and die very young. Others are born with some defect that we do not see, and may
also die young. Look over all the ducklings carefully; if they don't appear healthy, don't
buy them. Day-old ducklings, even in the best of health, will require a lot of time and care
to keep them growing well (See Raising Ducklings).
Sometimes it is possible to buy duck eggs and hatch them at home using a chicken to
brood them. For this purpose you will need a "broody" hen, which is a hen that tries to
make a nest and raise a family of chicks. After finding a quiet place to stay, she will lay
an egg each day until she has several in her nest. She will guard them carefully, and if
you try to disturb her or try to take the eggs away, she will become very excited and may
even try to peck your hands. If you wish to use a broody hen to hatch duck eggs, it is
important to place the eggs under the hen when she first gets broody. To keep the hen
comfortable and clean, provide a basket full of straw for her nest (See Figure 4). Duck
eggs take 26 to 28 days to hatch; the Muscovy requires 35 days and its crosses with other
ducks need about 30 days. Use clean eggs of good size and shape with strong smooth
shells. If the eggs are dirty, they should be cleaned with warm water and dried quickly.
As duck eggs are large, a chicken can take care of only seven or nine properly. The hen
must be treated carefully when she is brooding duck eggs. Allow her to leave the nest
every now and then for food and water. If she does not go back before the eggs get cool,
it may be because there are mites (tiny insect-like blood suckers) in the nest. In that case,
remove the eggs and keep them warm, then burn the straw and spray the empty basket
with kerosene or pour boiling water over it. After this treatment fill the basket with fresh
straw and put the eggs back. Every time the hen leaves the nest sprinkle the eggs with
warm water. Normally, the wet feathers of the mother duck moisten the eggs, but when
using a hen you must do this yourself.
Not all the ducklings will hatch at the same time. Those that hatch first can be taken from
the nest and kept warm by placing them on a layer of rice husk or straw in a covered basket
until all have hatched. This will prevent the hen from injuring the ducklings by stepping
on them or leaving the nest before all the eggs have hatched. When the hatch is finished,
the ducklings can be given to the hen to care for until they are at least a month old.
A great deal of time and patience is necessary to successfully raise a brood of ducklings
by yourself. In many tropical areas the best time for raising ducklings seems to be during
the first rains of the year. Ducklings purchased from a hatchery require special attention.
The following section presents guidelines for raising ducklings purchased from a
For the first 10 to 14 days the ducklings can be kept in clean baskets or boxes. Put a one
to two-inch (5 mm) layer of rice husk or straw in the bottom of the basket and change
it frequently to keep the ducklings dry and comfortable. It is a good idea is to add a thin
layer of husk or straw several time a day. Care should be taken not to crowd too many
ducklings in one basket. They should have a small amount of space to move around, but
if the basket is too large for the number of ducklings, their body heat will quickly be lost
and they will become chilled and die. (See Figure 5.)
To protect the ducklings from cold the basket should be covered with a piece of loosely
woven jute bag (single thickness). In very cold weather the bag can be folded over to
provide extra warmth inside. Some duck raisers add some heated rice husk to the basket
when the ducklings feel cold.
You must carefully observe the needs of the brood at all times. When the ducklings feel
too warm they will raise their mouths in an upward direction and cry, "che che." At this
time the bag over the basket should be partially withdrawn or removed completely. If the
ducklings feel cold they will crowd together to try to keep warm. It is your job to keep
a constant comfortable temperature by covering or uncovering the basket as needed.
Ideally, the ducklings should be kept at a temperature of 80[degrees] to 85[degrees]F (26.5[degrees] to 29.5[degrees]C) for
the first 10 days to 14 days.
Ducklings start eating the day after they hatch and grow very fast. Starting in the early
morning the ducklings should be fed four to five times a day. Try to provide a mixture
of different kinds of feed. Ducklings enjoy boiled or broken rice, rice bran, oil cake,
chopped earthworms and snails (no shell for the first few days), bits of fish, green
vegetables or water plants, crushed wheat, and rice polish. Whatever mixture is used, it
should be moist and chopped or ground in small bits. Feed a small amount of green plants
or leafy vegetable at each meal. It has been discovered that feeding stinging nettle
(Urtica dioica) to the ducklings will help prevent various types of diarrhoea. Stinging
nettle also contains lots of vitamins and minerals, which will help ducklings grow strong
and healthy. (See Figure 6.)
Never feed ducklings in their basket. Instead, remove a few ducklings and place them
on a clean jute bag, mat, plastic sheet, piece of paper, or in another basket. Sprinkle the
food in front of them and they will quickly start to pick it up. When ducklings have
finished eating (after one or two minutes) they should be placed in a shallow pan
containing a half-inch (1.25 cm) of water. After drinking they should be put on a dry jute
bag or on a layer of husk or straw in another basket until they have dried off. Then they
can be put back into their basket.
Many duck raisers allow their ducklings to bathe for a minute or two at noon in a pan
filled with an inch or two (3-5 cm) of water. If you do this be sure to let the ducklings
dry off before putting them back in their basket.
Be on the alert for ducklings with dry eyes or eyelids stuck together; in either case the
eyes should be carefully moistened with clean water. Practice good management. The
baskets, pans, bags and other things should be kept CLEAN. Some duck raisers use an
antiseptic, like Savlon, to clean their equipment.
10 Days to 14 Days Old
After 10 to 14 days the ducklings can be kept on rice husk or straw in a corner of the house
on the floor. At this age ducklings should be allowed plenty of fresh air and sunlight.
During the day they can be allowed to search around the house for insects and small
plants. They can even be walked to a nearby field or marshy pond where there is abundant
natural feed. Even though they are foraging on their own, provide them with a mixture
of feed and drinking water two to three times a day. Simple bamboo containers can be
made to keep the feed and water clean. (See Figure 7.)
If it suddenly rains and the ducklings are not able to find shelter many will die due to
chilling. Older ducks enjoy the rain but young ducks must be protected in stormy
weather. By the time ducklings have grown to the age of three or four months they will
be able to stand up to most conditions of bad weather with little discomfort. At noon the
ducklings should be kept in the shade of a tree as the sunshine at this time is very
powerful. After the noon-day heat has passed the ducklings can continue their foraging
and be returned to the house before dusk. A light feeding just before putting them inside
will encourage them to return each day with their caretaker.
4 Weeks Old
When the ducklings are four weeks old they will need housing that provides one square
foot per bird, although, if the house is well ventilated and kept clean, as little as a half
square foot may be allowed. Every morning the ducklings should be given clean water
and a mixture of feed. Be sure to use clean pans or bamboo containers for feed and water.
Feed the ducklings outside the house and in the same place each day. After a one or two
minute feeding the ducklings can be taken out for a day of foraging. It's best not to take
them too far from the house if the weather looks bad.
MANAGING EGG-LAYING DUCKS
If you have plenty of natural feed nearby, are willing to do the work yourself (or at least
provide daily supervision), and practice good management, you will have a successful
project. A large flock of ducks, while requiring some investment as well as labor, can
provide an excellent income--the main profit being eggs.
Ducks are very easy to move from place to place. They will stay together and walk long
distances if someone (even a child) with a long pole is there to keep them headed in the
right direction. In this way the ducks are guided to places where feed is available and
are kept out of trouble.
You should remember that ducks and rice do not go well together when the rice is in the
seedbed, being transplanted, or when it is headed out (producing grain). Many farmers
will not allow ducks in their fields at any time while rice is growing, although ducks
cannot harm established rice before it produces grain. As a matter of fact, the Chinese
use ducks to control harmful insects and keep down the weeds growing between the rows
of rice in the paddy.
New ducks may be turned out with an older flock and they will usually stay together. If
the new flock is large and there are no older ducks to teach them, the new ducks should
be penned up for about a week to learn their new home and surroundings.
It is important that ducks be given as much time as possible to search for their own feed.
When the ducks are herded back to their house they should be given a light feeding of
rice bran and oil cake (if available). This will encourage the ducks to return home
promptly at the end of each day's foraging. If drinking water is not provided just before
returning home, it should be given to the ducks before they are closed in for the night.
Do not put the ducks into their house until it starts to get dark: If they are forced in earlier
they will become upset and avoid being housed. They may even take to sleeping outside.
The layers may be released at about 7:30 in the morning as most of the eggs will have
been laid by this time. If the ducks are let out much earlier they will lay their eggs away
from home. If kept in later they will become overheated and restless. Ducks are very
sensitive to changes in their lives. Be regular in your work. Ducks will never lay well if
they are constantly upset by changes in the time when they are released or put into their
house. Any upsetting change will often cause a female to stop laying and begin moulting.
She may take two months to complete a moult and during this time there will be no eggs
and no income.
A Lesson From Bangladesh
Many clever approaches to duck raising have been tried in Bangladesh. South of
Boshurhat in the Noakhali District ducks are taken to the salt mud-flats where no rice is
grown. There they feed on crabs and slugs until the rice crop is harvested nearby. At the
end of the harvest the ducks are taken into the fields where they feed all day on fallen rice
grains. Often enough rice remains in the fields to feed the ducks for three to four months.
For at least two months there is usually enough rice to allow the ducks to lay plenty of
eggs; thereafter, there may be only enough to maintain them. When the rice is finished,
in March or so, the ducks may have to be fed some rice bran and oil cake until the rains
start in April. At this time small crabs come out of the soil and slugs are available. By
eating this feed the ducks will continue to lay eggs until the next harvest begins in
November. An experienced and hard working person can thus keep a large flock of ducks
(100-300) with very little purchased feed.
A simple record should be kept of your expenses (ducklings, feed, medicine, etc.), losses
and income. For this purpose see the section on Record Keeping in part one for a sample
Ducks can be killed and prepared for the table using the same method described for
chickens. However, duck feathers sometimes resist wetting during scalding; a small
amount of detergent added to the water will eliminate this problem. Many people save
the soft "down" feathers and use them to stuff pillows and toys.
DISEASES AND THEIR CONTROL
Because treating disease is often very difficult, it is best to prevent disease from ever
occurring. Following these simple rules can do much towards keeping ducks free
* Never feed rotten or spoiled food to ducks.
* Keep house, feed, and water containers CLEAN.
* Protect ducks from intense sun and rain (particularly young ducks).
* Avoid overcrowding.
* Vaccinate ducks on time.
* Take sick ducks away from the other ducks immediately.
Fowl cholera and duck plague are two of the most common diseases affecting ducks.
When the ducklings are about six weeks of age or are well-feathered on the breast, they
should receive their first vaccination against fowl cholera. The vaccine can be obtained
from your local veterinary officer or agricultural extensionist. One cc of vaccine is given
under the skin of the breast. Sixteen days later the ducks should receive a second 1-cc
injection. This is again repeated after another 16 days for a total of three fowl cholera
injections. Thereafter, the ducks should receive 1 cc at least once every year (every six
months if vaccine is available). When the ducklings are seven weeks of age they should
receive 1 cc of duck plague vaccine in the thigh muscle. No further injections of plague
vaccine will be required for the life of the duck because these vaccines give the ducks
This is the same disease that affects chickens and other poultry. The signs of the disease
are lameness; hot, swollen joints in the feet and legs; infected eyes; diarrhea; and
occasionally a swollen head. Death may come suddenly without symptoms or the duck
may be sick for several days. If a sick duck is cut open after death, the liver may be
enlarged, pale, and have small gray spots scattered over the surface. Vaccinate your
ducks to protect them from this disease. If an outbreak occurs in birds not vaccinated,
the disease can be controlled with sulphamethazine. It is given in water according to the
instructions with the medicine.
Signs of this disease are very similar to fowl cholera and the two are often confused, but
there are several differences. With duck plague there is weakness and lameness without
swelling or fever of the joints. The eyes become very watery and the feathers surrounding
the eyes have a foamy discharge; there is a watery nasal discharge and diarrhea. Usually
ducks die after about three days of illness. If the body is opened there are no obvious signs
of disease; if the heart is examined, however, it will have small bloody areas (hemorrhage)
on the muscle surface and the gizzard may also show signs of damage (muscle
The veterinarian can use the following guidelines when examining a duck that has been
sick for several days with the cholera/plague symptoms: No internal symptoms except
liver symptoms and pus in the joints means cholera. Cholera also shows heart hemorrhages,
but liver and other involvement is marked. No treatment is effective against
plague, but in case of an epidemic, when there is no vaccine available, 1 cc of Raniket
vaccine may be given to the healthy birds; this will offer protection for about one month.
Food poisoning can be a serious problem in both young and adult ducks. It is caused by
bacteria that grow in decaying plant and animal material. When ducks eat food
containing this bacteria they become very sick and lose control of their neck muscles,
which makes their heads hang. Left untreated, food poisoning will often result in death.
If the ducks are only slightly affected they can be given Epsom salts in their drinking
water (I pound [2.2 kg] Epsom salts per 5 gallons [19 lit.] water) until their condition
You can avoid this problem by practicing good management. Watch your ducks
carefully when they are searching for food. Keep them away from decaying snails,
worms, mussels, crabs, fish, and plants. Be sure their feed and water containers are kept
clean and that only freshly collected food is provided.
Ducks from the Market
Be very careful about purchasing ducks from the market. Very often ducks are offered
for sale because the farmer has lost many to disease and wishes to sell them before they
all die. Introducing sick birds to your flock might spread the disease. Try to buy ducks
from healthy flocks and not from peddlers. If you must buy ducks from an unknown
source, keep them separated from the rest of the flock for at least three weeks and watch
them carefully for signs of disease.
THE CHINESE RICE HUSK
This interesting method of incubation is commonly used throughout Thailand, Vietnam,
Taiwan, and China to produce ducklings for sale. Because the system uses no electricity
and requires only the occasional use of a small kerosene stove, it can be used in villages
lacking electric power.
The system makes it possible to hatch hundreds of duck eggs at one time. It works
because a fertilized duck egg that is at least 10 days old will produce enough heat to warm
itself and other eggs if placed in a well-insulated container. When the incubation is
beginning and there are no eggs at least 10 days old, it is necessary to supply heat. One
way to keep the eggs warm is to place them between jute bags filled with heated rice husk;
later, no heat will be needed except that which is produced by the eggs themselves.
One person can handle at least 1,000 eggs per setting. But before such a large-scale
operation is attempted, make sure you have a dependable source of fertile eggs and a
good market for the ducklings. Once the process is underway it requires only about an
hour or two per day for every 200 to 300 eggs set.
The Chinese rice-husk system is a very labor intensive process, and as it requires close
daily supervision at all hours, it is well suited to women at home. There are many unused
water areas where ducks could be kept and people in many countries are now organizing
cooperatives to provide baby ducks to interested farmers.
You will need a dependable supply of clean fertile duck eggs because 100 to 300
eggs are set every five days (six times in a month). These can be obtained by:
* Searching in villages to find who keeps a male duck with their females
(very few do) and contracting to buy their eggs.
* Contracting with someone else to bring you eggs when needed.
* Setting up your own breeding flock.
* Buying from a large duck farm.
In Taiwan the only eggs accepted for hatching and paid for are those that are fertile at
24 hours incubation. To determine this the eggs are held in front of a strong light; the
growing embryo can be seen through the shell. This is called "candling," and after the
eggs are checked, the infertile or rotten eggs are returned to the supplier. This would be
difficult in a situation where there are many small village suppliers, but if each person's
eggs were marked with a symbol, you could then determine how good they are at
candling time, and make an adjustment when the next batch was delivered.
To ensure that the very best eggs are obtained for hatchings, a slightly higher price can
be paid than the market rate. This should be based on:
* Fertility (over 80 percent)
Remember: You will need enough money to buy six lots of eggs for the first month's
operation, and during this time there will be no income from ducklings sold.
A room, building, or compartment that can be made draft-free is necessary. The room
is the most important part of the process. If it is cold and drafty, or allows all the heat to
escape, it will be useless. The walls should be solid; of mud, cement, or insulated wood
or bamboo. A thatched roof holds the heat in nicely. Tin will give heat off too quickly
at night unless insulated underneath with a layer of straw. Windows and doors must be
made fairly airtight with jute sacking and boards. The walls should have all holes filled
in with mud, cement or some kind of airtight packing. The room should be as airtight and
insulated as possible. If there is any chance of airflow, hang jute cloth from the ceiling
to the floor. The object is to prevent drafts and sudden air temperature changes. Once
incubation begins the temperature near the roof should be over 85[degrees]F (29.9[degrees]C)--90[degrees] to 95[degrees]F
(32[degrees]to 35[degrees]C) is ideal. Once the room or building has been selected, the next step is to build
Each cylinder holds about 900 eggs. The size can be decreased if desired, but larger
cylinders should not be used. To make a cylinder, a bamboo mat about 60 inches x 84
inches (153 x 213 cm) is folded on its width to make a piece 30 x 84 inches (76 cm x 213
cm). This is then rolled on its length to make a cylinder about 30 inches (76 cm) deep
and 20 inches (51 cm) wide. The cylinder is sewn with wire and fastened with three or
more bamboo hoops to make it rigid. (See Figure 8.) A smaller cylinder of 16 inches (40
cm) in diameter and 24 inches (61 cm) in depth can be made to hold about 300 eggs.
Boxes for Cylinders
After the cylinders have been made, they must be installed. A box made of bamboo and
matting or wood is built against the inside wall of the incubation room. It should be 36
inches (91 cm) deep and 36 inches (91 cm) wide and long enough to hold the basket
cylinders you are using. The mats are used in double thickness and reinforced with
bamboo to make strong walls on all four sides. Six inches (1 5 cm) of husk is placed in
the bottom and this is covered with a mat. The cylinder(s) is then placed on this mat and
the space between the cylinder sides and box sides is filled with dry, clean rice husk. The
cylinder should be completely surrounded with husk on both sides and bottom. The top
of the box may be covered with a mat fitted to leave the top of the cylinder open. (See
Figures 9a and 9b.)
This is a traylike or bedlike structure with 8-inch (20 cm) sides. It can be made of wood
or with mats and bamboo. If the latter type are used, the sides should have double walls
with an inch of rice husk separating them, as a single thickness of mat will not provide
adequate insulation. (See Figure 10.) One or two inches (3-5 cm) of rice husk is placed
in the bottom of the bed and covered with a fine grass or reed mat (washable type). About
one square foot (.093 [m.sup.2]) of space is required for every 38 eggs. A bed 6 feet long (1.83
m) and 4 feet (1.22 m) wide will hold 900 eggs. The bed should be placed on the rafters,
or as high off the floor as is possible, to make use of the heat trapped near the ceiling.
Kerosene Stove and Cylinder
With the rice-husk system eggs are warmed before placing them in the cylinders. The
sun can be used for this purpose, but on cloudy or rainy days, the eggs must be heated
over a small kerosene stove. The stove is placed inside a basket-cylinder and an open
weave winnowing tray is placed on top; the eggs are rolled around the tray to warm them.
(See Figure 11.)
Some flat winnowing trays about 36 inches (90 cm) in diameter will be needed. A tightly
woven tray is used to cover the cylinders when there are eggs being incubated and open-weave
trays are good for heating the eggs and rice husk over the stove.
A strong light is needed for candling the eggs. This is best done with an electric light,
but a kerosene lamp with a clean chimney and a reflector is sufficient. (See Figure 12.)
Before the eggs are placed into the cylinder they must be bundled in lots of 90 using
pieces of coarse cloth. Very cheap cloth can be used for this purpose; a square piece
approximately 30 inches (76 cm) by 30 inches (76 cm) is enough for every 90 eggs.
A clinical thermometer (from a pharmacy or medical supply store) is used to check the
temperature of the eggs in the cylinders and while heating in the sun. Actually, this is
necessary only for the beginner; later, with practice, a person can accurately "feel" the
temperature by holding an egg against their upper eyelid.
A bamboo mat is needed to set the eggs out in the sunshine; and a few baskets to hold
eggs, ducklings, shells, and miscellaneous garbage.
Step By Step Incubation Process
1) The eggs should be washed in a mild solution of Savlon (a mild disinfectant) with
warm (not hot or cold) water. Allow the eggs to dry before continuing. (See Figure
2) Each batch of eggs must be marked with a symbol for identification. (See figure 14.)
Every five days a new batch of eggs will be mixed with the older ones; to tell them
apart each must be properly marked.
3) Now tie the eggs in bundles of 50-90. (See Figure 15.)
4) Place the bundles on mats or trays in the sun; open the bundles and spread the eggs
out to heat. A thermometer may be inserted in a cracked or broken egg; when the
temperature reads about 100[degrees]F (38[degrees]C) the eggs are bundled up. If it is not possible
to use the sun's heat, a small kerosene stove must be used. (See Step 7.)
5) While the eggs are being heated in the sun, rice husk is heated in the same way. Fill
a bag with heated husk (half-full) and place it in the bottom of the cylinder. Put the
warm egg bundles on top of this and place another bag (half-full) of husk over them.
This creates a "sandwich" of eggs between two bags of heated husk. (See Figure 16.
6) The eggs may remain this way for 24 hours without any further attention. If the room
is well-insulated and the cylinder containers are well-made, the eggs should lose
only two to four degrees overnight.
7) The next day the eggs must be taken out and turned. This is done by placing the
bundle on a winnowing tray. The bundle is opened and the eggs spread out. The eggs
are then rolled with a gentle circular motion of the hands. The bundles are retied and
replaced in the basket so that the bundles that were formerly on top are now on the
bottom and vice versa. If the temperature of the eggs is good, 98[degrees]F(36.5[degrees]C) and above,
then the eggs need not be reheated, only the half-bags of husk. If the eggs are placed
between bags of heated husk their temperature will be maintained.
In case the eggs have cooled to below 98[degrees]F (36.5[degrees]C), it would be best to reheat the
eggs in the sun or over a stove. (See Figure 11.) The eggs must be turned twice a
day or else the embryos will stick to the shell and die. Early in the morning and late
afternoon will be sufficient, but the closer you can get to a 12 hour schedule the
better it will be. Heated husk must be applied every time in order to keep the egg
temperature high enough. The ideal range is 98[degrees] to 100[degrees]F (36.5[degrees] to 38[degrees]C). The eggs
must be kept between 98[degrees] to 102[degrees]F (36.5[degrees] to 39[degrees]C) or they will die. If you have only
a few eggs and put in a great deal of very hot husk, the eggs may be cooked; and if
you have many eggs and use only a small amount of husk, the eggs may become too
cool. A thermometer may be inserted into the bundles at different levels to check the
temperature. Later on the temperature may be judged by the "eyelid check" as
experience is gained. Remember that the bundles should always be replaced in the
basket in the reverse order to that in which they were taken out.
8) The eggs are turned twice every day until the fourth day when they are candled, or
examined for fertility. The room is darkened except for a single light bulb or
kerosene lamp (see Figure 12) and the eggs are held up before the light so that the
inside may be seen. The fertile eggs show a small long dark spot looking something
like a spider. Infertile eggs will be clear, with only the shadow of the yolk showing.
Rotten eggs will have some loose material floating about inside and the color will
be blotchy or black. A good fertility rate for eggs is 75 percent to 90 percent fertile
eggs per batch; 75 percent is all right and 80 to 90 percent is very good.
9) On the fifth day, new eggs are added to the system. They should be washed, marked,
and heated before mixing them with the older eggs. The new batch should have
about the same number of eggs as the first batch. The new eggs are mixed with the
older eggs so that each bundle will have half new and half old eggs, but with a total
of 50-90 eggs.
10) The bundles should be warmed with heated husk twice a day for the next four days,
and then all the eggs are candled again on the ninth day.
11) On the tenth day another new batch of eggs is mixed in after heating. Heated husk
will likely have to be added until the 13th day, when the embryos in the eggs become
large enough to heat themselves without assistance. Heated husk may still be needed
after this time, but that will depend on your room, air temperature, cylinder
construction, etc. In any case, by the 14th day all that should be needed is to turn or
roll the eggs twice a day. On the 14th day the eggs are all candled again. By this time
close attention should be paid to the temperature under the uppermost bag of heated
husk. Probably only a light cover, such as a winnowing tray or sack will be needed
across the top of the cylinder. If the room is very warm it may be better to leave the
eggs in the cylinders uncovered and to rotate the order of the eggs at noon and at
night to prevent the bottom bundles from becoming overheated. The bottom eggs
are always much warmer than those at the top; this is why it is necessary to reverse
the order when turning or when overheating threatens. Close observation is essential
until you are familiar with this process.
12) On the 15th day a new batch of eggs is added after washing, marking, and heating.
Heated husk should also be added as the new eggs might upset the even temperature
of the older eggs. On the 16th day the eggs will probably be warm enough to remove
the upper bag again.
13) On the 17th day the temperature will likely be very high and if you leave the oldest
eggs in the bundles past this time they will overheat and you will have a very poor
hatch. The eggs with the oldest batch mark must be taken out and put into the
overhead incubation bed. The eggs are laid on their sides one layer deep and are
packed very closely in the bed. If they do not cover all the space, a rolled jute bag
may be placed across the open edge to hold the eggs tight and to conserve heat.
Batches should not be mixed on the beds but kept in separate groups with a rolled
jute bag divider between them. The eggs should be covered with a light cloth or
pieces of jute cloth depending on the air temperature at the ceiling. If the ceiling
temperature is much over 85[degrees]F (29.5[degrees]C), 90[degrees]F (32[degrees]C) is good, then only a light cover
will be needed. Watch the temperature very closely if the eggs are covered, as they
can overheat in a matter of an hour or two. By 1 or 2 p.m. on a hot day there may
be no need for a cover, or a very light one may be used. As the eggs get older in the
bed less cover will be needed, and finally no cover will be required at all. Less harm
is caused to the eggs by cooling than by overheating. Turn the eggs on the beds three
to four times per day. The eggs at the sides should be rolled to the middle and those
in the middle to the sides.
14) This process is then followed with new eggs being added every 5th day, candling
every 4th day after setting, and older eggs being transferred to the beds at 17 days
(16 to 18 days depending on temperature of room).
15) On the 25th day, the oldest eggs should have begun to hatch. At this time turning
may be discontinued as the eggs will break if handled roughly. Leave the eggs alone.
Do not pick the shell away from a duckling to "help" it out. They will hatch alone
with no assistance from anyone about 24 hours after they first crack their shells. If
many die in the shell, this is not because they needed to be helped, but because the
eggs were allowed to overheat in the cylinders or the ceiling temperature was too
low. By the 28th day hatching should be completed. If you started with clean, large
eggs of high fertility and freshness, you will obtain a 60 percent hatch, but probably
the most you can expect in the beginning is 50 percent or less while learning the
system. Breakage of eggs may seem high in the beginning, but this will decrease
with practice. Temperature control will also become easier with experience.
16) On the 28th or 29th day clean out all the shells, dead ducklings, and unhatched eggs.
The mats should then be lifted out, washed, and disinfected with Savlon. During the
hatch the baby ducks, shells, etc. should be removed periodically as the ducklings
will sit in a large mass on the unhatched eggs and cause them to overheat.
Cleanliness is important to prevent disease in young ducks. The baby ducks can be
placed in baskets with husk or straw on the bottom and then sold or distributed. They
do not have to eat or drink for two days after hatching, which allows you time to sell
them. The ducklings may be separated according to sex as shown in Figure 17.
Daily Activities in Brief
Day 1 -- Wash, mark, bundle, and heat eggs. Put into the cylinders between two
half-filled bags of heated husk.
Day 2 -- Turn eggs morning and evening; heat husks both times. The order of the
eggs is reversed: the eggs that were on top are placed at the bottom of the
cylinders, and those that were at the bottom are placed on top.
Day 3 -- Same.
Day 4 -- Same, but candle eggs and discard infertile eggs..
Day 5 -- Wash, mark, and heat new eggs. Mix new eggs half and half with older
eggs in each bundle. Turn the eggs and heat husk as usual.
Day 6 -- Turn the eggs and heat the husk.
Day 7 -- Same.
Day 8 -- Same.
Day 9 -- Same, but candle all eggs.
Day 10 -- Add new eggs. Turn eggs and heat husk as usual.
Day 11 -- Turn eggs and heat husk.
Day 12 -- Same.
Day 13 -- Same, but heating the husk may not be required.
Day 14 -- Turn eggs and candle. Usually heated husk not needed.
Day 15 -- Wash, mark, and heat new eggs. Mix new eggs half and half with older eggs
in each bundle. Turn eggs. Heated husk is not required.
Day 16 -- Turn eggs.
Day 17 -- Turn eggs; move first batch of eggs to incubation bed.
Day 18 -- Turn eggs in cylinders two times a day and eggs in incubation bed four times
Day 19 -- Turn eggs and candle.
Day 20 -- Wash, mark, and heat new eggs. Mix new eggs half and half with older eggs
in each bundle. Turn eggs.
Day 21 -- Turn eggs.
Day 22 -- Turn eggs; move second batch to incubation bed.
Day 23 -- Turn eggs.
Day 24 -- Turn eggs and candle.
Day 25 -- Wash, mark, and heat new eggs. Mix new eggs half and half with older eggs
in each bundle. Turn eggs.
Day 26 -- Turn eggs. First batch beginning to crack their shells.
Day 27 -- Turn eggs; move third batch to incubation bed. First batch beginning to hatch.
Day 28 -- Turn eggs. Hatching of first batch finished. Clean-up.
Chicken Feed Formulas from Around the World:
All Mash Rations, Benin
Ingredients Chicks Broilers Layers
Maize 26.8 31.5 29.5
Sorghum 35.0 35.0 35.0
Fish meal 6.0 4.0 3.5
Skim milk powder 5.0 5.0 5.0
Groundnut cake 21.5 18.5 15.5
Alfalfa meal 3.0 3.0 3.0
Shell grit 1.0 1.0 7.0
Dicalcium phosphate 1.1 1.4 1.4
Salt 0.3 0.3 0.3
Vitamin concentrate 0.3 0.3 0.3
TOTAL 100 100 100
Laying Mash, Cambodia
Broken rice 20.0
Rice bran(1) 15.0
Fish meal (43% crude protein)(2) 15.0
Groundnut cake meal 5.0
Soybeans or mung beans 5.0
Hevea cake meal(3) 5.0
Ipil-ipil leaf meal, dried (Leucaena glauca) 3.5
Ground limestone 2.0
(1) Rice bran, if good quality, is introduced in bigger portions.
Quality depends on work in the rice mill, which is not standardized.
(2) Fish meal is made from dried fresh-water fish and is rich in fat and minerals.
Fresh fish meal is excellent, but old fish meal tends to become rancid.
(3) Hevea cake meal has similar composition to linseed meal. It contains
less crude fiber if the hulls are entirely separated.
All feed tables (Source: Poultry Feeding in Tropical and Subtropical Countries,
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, 1971.)
Recommended Poultry Rations, Colombia
Ingredients Starter(1) Growth Layer Breeder
and broiler after 6
Maize 62.5 27.5 73.0 73.0
Milo ---- ---- ----
Wheat by-products 5.0 50.0 5.0 5.0
Lucerne meal 3.0 8.0 3.0 3.0
Soybean oil meal 13.0 ---- 6.0 6.0
Fish meal 3.0 3.0 ---- ----
Meat meal 3.0 ---- 3.0 3.0
Cottonseed meal 3.0 1.0 ---- ----
Sesame meal 5.0 3.0 6.0 6.0
Calcium carbonate 1.0 5.0 3.0 3.0
Calcium phosphate or 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.5
bone meal 1.0
Iodized salt 0.5 0.5 0.5
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
..........Grams per 100 kilograms............
Manganese sulfate 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0
Zinc sulfate 10.0 ---- ---- ----
Vitamin A (300,000 I.U./g) 2.5 2.0 2.0 2.0
Vitamin [D.sub.3] (800,000 I.U./g) 2.5 2.0 1.0 1.0
Pure riboflavin 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.3
Vitamin [B.sub.12] concentrate (6 mg
[B.sub.12]/lb) 45.0 ---- ---- 45.0
(1) For all chicks up to 6 weeks and for broilers until they are sold. At 8 weeks the
protein content of the broiler ration can be reduced by replacing 1.5 percent fish and
meat meal by 3 percent maize.
Mashes for Poultry, Congo
Ingredients All mash All mash All mash Laying mash
for chicks for pullets for to be fed
up to 2-6 layers with grain
2 months months
Maize, ground 33 40 40 20
Millet, ground 22 15 20 18
Rice, dehulled, ground 11 ---- ---- ----
Rice, paddy, ground ---- 10 10 10
Fish meal 7.5 7 3 4
Meat meal ---- ---- 3 5
Skim milk powder 5 6 ---- ----
Yeast, dried 3 1 1 ----
Groundnut cake meal 9 12.5 12 25
Alfalfa meal 7.5 5 7 12
Dicalcium phosphate 0.5 1 0.5 2
Oyster shells 1 2 3 3
Salt 0.5 0.5 0.5 1
TOTAL 100 100 100 100
Poultry Rations, Eritrea, Ethiopia
Ground barley 39.5
Ground durra (sorghum) 20.0
Ground yellow maize 20.0
Meat meal 15.0
Calcium powder 4.0
Marble grit 1.0
Common salt 0.5
Note: Fresh alfalfa and grain were being fed as supplements.
Poultry Rations, Ghana
Ingredients Chick feed Layer feed
Concentrate 30 22
Maize 46 49
Rice bran 15 20
Oyster shells 1 3
Dicalcium phosphate 4 3
Grass meal 4 3
TOTAL 100 100
Poultry Rations, Kenya
Ingredients Chick Growers Complete Layers Broilers
all mash layers mash all
mash mash mash
Bran 20 20 20 20 ----
Pollard 10 10 10 10 ----
Wheat (ground) --- ---- ---- ---- 6
Maize 32 24 30 27 58
cake 2.5 2 4 4 4
meal (hulled) 2.5 2 ---- ---- 3
Alfalfa meal 5 10 10 8 2
Oats 7 15 10 10 5
Barley 5 6 5 3 3
Meat meal(1) 10 5 5 10 12
Fish meal(2) 5 5 3 5 6
Flocculated lime 1 1 3 3 1
TOTAL 100 100 100 100 100
protein content 19.4 16.8 16.4 18.4 19.9
(1) carcass or Grade B, 50% protein
(2) 55% protein
Experimental Layer Rations Using Hawaiian Ingredients
Meat and bone meal (50%) 20.5
Tuna meal (58%) 5.0
Blood meal 2.0
Pineapple leaf meal 30.0
Molasses, cane 30.0
Tallow, beef 12.5
Grams per 1001b (45.5 kg)
Vitamin premix(1) 300
BHT (antioxidant) 6
Manganese sulfate 8
(1) Provided per pound ration: 2,500 I.U. vitamin A, 300 I.C.U. vitamin
D, 1.5 mg thiamine, 1.5 mg riboflavin, 5 mg pantothenic acid, 15 mg
niacin, 2 mg pyridoxine, 600 mg choline, 0.005 mg vitamin [B.sub.12].
All Mash Poultry Rations, Myanmar (Burma)
Ingredients Chicks Layers
Rice bran 26 20.5
Broken rice 16 19
Yellow maize 16 20
Sesame oil cake 10.5 22
Groundnut cake 5.4 ----
Fish meal 10.5 ----
Blood meal 2 12.5
Milk 5.5 ----
Gram 5.5 ----
Shells ---- 1.5
Bone meal ---- 1.5
Mineral mixture 2 2
Salt ---- 0.5
Cod liver oil 0.5 0.5
Yeast 0.1 ----
TOTAL 100.0 100.0
All Mash Rations, University College, Ibadan, Nigeria
Ration A Ration B Ration C
Ingredients General purpose Growers mash Chick mash
layers + breeders 12-14 weeks
or yellow maize 67 66 62
Palm kernel cake 9 11 6
Cowpeas(1) 3 4 8
Rice bran (or maize bran)(2) 7 3 6
Groundnut cake 5 7 8
Blood meal(3) 5 5.5 6
Salt (manganized) 1 1 1
Bone meal 2 1.3 1.8
Oyster shell 1 1.2 1.2
TOTAL 100 100 100
Total percent crude protein 20.17 21.83 22.4
Total percent nitrogen 62.35 62.30 60.74
Total percent crude fiber 5.65 4.45 5.10
(1) Or bambara groundnut (Voandzei subterranea Thouars) or pigeon pea
(2) Poor quality containing much husk.
(3) Poor quality, pan dried
All Mash Poultry Rations, Sri Lanka
Ingredients Chicks Growers Layers
Tambagalla (sorghum) 40 45 42
Rice bran 7 23 19.5
Fish meal 10 12 8.5
Coconut meal 25 20 18.5
Gingelly Cake (Sesamum indicum) 12 ---- 2
Cowpeas 6 ---- 3
Shell grit ---- ---- 6.5
Salt 0.5 0.5 0.5
TOTAL 100.5 100.5 100.5
Added per 100.5 kg:
Potassium iodide (g) 0.145 0.145 0.145
Choline chloride (21.7%) g 555 530 540
All Mash Laying Rations, Thailand
Rice bran 57
Broken rice 8
Ground yellow maize 7
Fish meal 7
Ground soybean cake 4
Ground groundnut cake 2
Copra meal 5
Ground oyster shell 5
Ground dried legume leaf 3
Table salt 1
Shark-liver oil or vitamins A + [D.sub.3] 1
All Mash Poultry Rations, Uruguay
Ingredients Chicks Layers
Ground maize 40.5 40
Ground wheat 20.0 5.0
Sorghum ---- 3.0
Ground barley 16.0 20.0
Bran ---- 10.0
Meat meal 15.0 7.0
Ground sunflower cake 7.0 10.0
Oyster shells 1.0 4.0
Salt 0.5 1.0
TOTAL 100.0 100.0
Conversion of Units of Measurement
The inch-pound system is used in some older publications and is preferred for general use
in Myanmar and the United States of America. Some common units of the inch-pound and
metric systems employed in agricultural publications are defined below.
1 inch (in.) = 2.54 cm 1 mm =.039 in.
1 foot (ft.) = 12 in. = 0.305 m 1 cm = .39 in.
1 yard (yd.) = 3 ft. = 0.914 m 1 m = 39.4 in.
1 mile (mi.) = 1 760 yd. = 1.61 km
1 square in. = 6.45 sq. cm 1 sq. cm = .155 sq. in.
1 square foot (sq. ft.) = 0.093 sq. m 1 sq. m = 10.76 sq. ft. = 1.196 sq. yd.
1 square yard (sq. yd.) = 0.836 sq. m
1 acre = 0.405 ha
1 square mile (sq. mi.) = 2.59 sq. km or 259 ha
1 fluid dram (fl. dr.) = 3.70 cc 1 L = .264 gallons (U.S.)
1 fluid ounce (fl. oz.) = 8 fl. dr. = 29.6 cc 1 gallon (Imperial) = 4 Imp. qt. = 4.55 L
1 pint (U.S.) = 16 fl. oz. = 0.473 L 1 bushel (bu.) = 35.2 L
1 quart (U.S.) = 2 pt. = 0.946 L
1 gallon (U.S.) = 4 qt. = 3.79 L
1 cubic foot (cu. ft.) = .0283 cu. m = 28.3 L
1 cubic yard (cu. yd.) = 0.765 cu. m
Weight and Mass
1 grain (apothecaries') (gr. ap.) = 64.8 mg 1 g = .035 oz. = .0022 lb.
1 dram (apothecaries') (dr. ap.) = 60 gr. ap. = 3.89 g 1 kg = 2.2 lb.
1 ounce (apothecaries') (oz. ap.) = 8 dr. ap. = 31.1 g
1 pound (apothecaries') (lb. ap.) = 12 oz. ap. = 0.373 kg
1 ounce (avoirdupois or commercial) (oz. av.) = 28.35 g
1 pound (lb. av.) = 16 oz. av. = 0.454 kg
1 (short) ton (tn.) = 2 000 lb. av. = 0.907 t
degrees Centigrade ([degrees]C)= 5/9 x ([degrees]F - 32) degrees Fahrenheit ([degrees]F) = (1.8 x [degrees]C) + 32
Building the Colony Cage <see image>
1. Make sure that all edges are flush on floor, so that the chickens' droppings
fall to the ground.
2. Stretch floor screen tight to prevent sagging; hold screen with a piece of
binding wire attached to angle support (see section A-A.)
3. Use only 3/4 in. sq. or 3/4 in. x 1 in. mesh for floor and 2 in. x 1 in. battens.
4. Brood box can be as simple as a cardboard box. This box is used when
removable wall is in place to provide warmth and shelter for the chicks.
Remove both the wall and brood box when chicks are big enough.
5. Removable wall (see brood box.) This wall is used to confine the chicks
to the brooding area.
6. Door covers. Cut burlap or any other thick cloth material to fit over doors
in front. The cloth covers can be lowered when needed to protect chickens
from wind and rain. Cover nest box door to darken interior and provide
layers with privacy.
7. Egg roll. This roll is necessary to keep chickens from breaking their own
eggs after laying. Make sure to test the roll against breakage and adjust the
slope of the floor on which the eggs roll as well as the width of the egg-catch
tray if necessary. The sloping floor under the nest box (the egg roll)
and the egg shelf are not attached to each other. The egg shelf is attached
to a piece of wood on the door; when the door is closed it butts up against
and joins the sloping wire under the nest boxes. In this way, the eggs collect
on the outside of the door where they cool in the outside air. (See page 102.)
Soft material can be placed in the egg shelf for protection if needed.
(See page 21 for a detailed list of the materials needed to build this cage.)
Cage design by Harlan H.D. Attfield
Drawings by G. Baya
Abbott, J.C.; Stewart, G.F. Marketing Eggs and Poultry. Rome: Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations.
Attfield, H.; Archer, J. First Lessons In Duck Raising. Bangladesh: International
Voluntary Services, 1978.
Biddle, G.; Jergenson, E. Approved Practices In Poultry Production. Illinois: The
Bird, H R. "Understanding Poultry Meat and Egg Production." Arlington, Virginia:
Volunteers in Technical Assistance, 1984.
Costa, M.A. "The Evaluation of Indigenous Feedstuffs for the Nutrition of Swine and
Poultry in Belize, Central America." M.S. Thesis, Michigan State University,
Khan, A.S.; Chaudhry, A.M.; and Aslam, M. Economics of Modern Poultry Production
in West Pakistan. Lyallpur, Pakistan: West Pakistan Agricultural University,
Krusch, Peter. Poultry Handbook For West Africa. Washington, D.C.: Peace Corps
Information Collection and Exchange, 1970.
Maurer, A.J., and Maurer, E.A. Raising Chickens in Eastern Nicaragua. Wisconsin-Nicaragua
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