How to Start Local Chicken Farming [Beginner’s Guide]

how to start local chicken farming in Nigeria

If you want to invest in a poultry farming business but don’t know where to start, then starting with local chicken farming is a good decision.

Starting a local chicken farming business in Nigeria is one of the best agro-business ideas for anyone wishing to generate funds without stress.

The reason is that local chickens are less stressful to rear than most other hybrid chicken breeds.

So, in this article, I am going to help you to understand what local chicken farming is all about and how to go about the business.

Let’s get started!

What is local chicken farming?

Local chicken farming is the practice of rearing local chickens for the purpose of producing meat, feathers and eggs.

We already know that meat and eggs are mainly for consumption purposes and they help to meet man’s nutritional needs.

However, you can also make an income from selling them.

As for the feathers, they are washed, disinfected and used by manufacturing industries to produce pillows and jackets.

Let’s not forget that chicken dung is a good additive for growing crops.

Plants make use of chicken manure thereby reducing the rate at which people depend on fertilizers.

Local chicken farming is a well-known practice across the world, especially in Africa. 

Even though many local chicken farmers keep them for personal consumption, it has high potentials in generating foreign exchange through the exportation of its products.

naked neck local chicken breed
Naked Neck local chicken breed

What are the types of local chicken breeds?

When you hear local chicken breeds, it refers to indigenous or native chicken breeds of a country.

These local chickens are raised and bred in the same country.

So, in Nigeria, we have the Nigerian Indigenous Chicken (NIC).

These local chickens are of two types and they are classified based on location.

They are the Fulani Ecotypes and Forest savannah (Yoruba) Ecotypes.

Ecotypes mean that the chickens are adapted to the local environmental conditions of the Fulani and Yoruba regions respectively. 

1. The Fulani Ecotypes:

This type of local chickens is the heavy ecotypes.

They are found in the Sahel and Guinea savannah part of Nigeria, the cattle Kraals and Montane regions of the North. 

The birds usually weigh between 0.9kg and 2.5kg at maturity.

2. The Yoruba Ecotypes:

The Yoruba local chickens are the light ecotypes.

They are found in the Rainforest, Swamp and Derived Savannah zones of Nigeria.

Their weight at maturity is between 0.68kg to 1.5kg.

The major difference between these two breeds, Fulani ecotypes and Yoruba ecotype, is that the former has a higher body weight than the latter.

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Other classifications of local chickens breeds

Besides classification based on location, local chickens can also be classified based on their feathers as well as body structure.

1. Based on feathers:

Local chickens can also be grouped on the basis of their feathers.

Therefore, the Nigerian Indigenous Chicken could be classified under Normal feathered breed and Frizzled feathered breed.

2. Based on body structure:

On the basis of body structure, we have the Naked Neck Chickens and Dwarf Chickens. 

Olandsk-Dwarf local chicken breed_1
Olandsk-Dwarf local chicken breed

What are the characteristics of a local chicken?

So, how can you identify a local chicken? 

Here are a few features of a local chicken;

  • They are usually found in black, brown and dark red colours.
  • Their eye colour is dark brown, light brown and dark red. They are sharp and always alert.
  • Local chickens have a smooth beak and claws.
  • Bright red comb and wattle.
  • They are usually very small in size.
  • Their meat and eggs have good, attractive pigmentation, leanness and taste which makes them suitable for special Nigerian dishes.
  • They are mostly found in rural and semi-urban places.
  • Local chickens reach sexual maturity between 133-169 days.
  • They are poor egg producers, as they lay just 40-50 eggs in a year.
  • The light (Yoruba) ecotypes chickens lay more eggs than the heavy (Fulani) ecotypes.
  • Its clutch size, egg length, egg weight and thickness are 7.86cm, 4.52cm, 39.03g and 3.80g respectively.
  • They are able to hatch their own eggs and brood their chicks.

What are the benefits of local chicken farming over hybrids?

Here are a few benefits of local chicken farming;

1. They can survive harsh weathers:

Local chicken breeds are sturdy and are able to stand various weather conditions.

Unlike hybrid chicken breeds, they survive longer in extreme weather conditions.

2. They are independent chickens:

Local chicken breeds are mostly free rangers.

This means they do well grazing in the field and feeding on insects.

They are able to find their own food and protect their chicks even without supervision. 

3. They require little fund in handling them:

About 70% of the cost of rearing hybrid chickens goes into buying chicken feed.

However, that is not the case with local chicken farming.

Since local chickens are independent chickens, they can find food for themselves.

So, you only spend a little to supplement their meals.

4. Its management process is less tiring:

This is another important advantage of rearing local chickens.

Local chickens always return to their pen at night after grazing in the day.

Also, we have talked about it being able to look for food for itself.

Because local chickens are free rangers, the mess they make in their pen will be minimal. 

As a result, cleaning and other management activities will be less frequent. 

5. They are immune to certain diseases:

Local chickens have a stronger immune system which prevents them from falling sick easily.

This is one of the major reasons why they are preferred more than commercial chicken breeds.

6. You can make money from local chicken farming: 

Most people prefer to eat local chicken meat over commercial chicken meat.

As a result, local chicken farmers can make money from growing local chickens.

This is a viable business especially in rural areas in most African countries.

What are the disadvantages of local chicken farming?

It is a norm that anything that has advantages has disadvantages. 

This is so that you can make a well guided and unbiased decision.

So, what are the disadvantages of local chicken farming?

Here they are;

1. They produce little meat:

This is a major disadvantage of keeping local chickens.

The reason is that local chickens usually have a very small body size.

So, their carcass is also very small.

2. They have a slow growth rate:

Local chickens have a very slow growth rate. 

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It can take several months before a local chicken reaches a reasonable size for consumption.

If you want a chicken that will grow very fast, then opt for hybrid chicken breeds that reach maturity within 8 weeks.

3. Their eggs are usually small:

Just like they have a small body size, local chickens also lay eggs that are small in size.

4. It is not suitable for commercial purpose:

Most people who rear local chickens do so for local consumption. 

That is because it is not in high demand like the hybrid chicken breeds.

People prefer hybrid chicken breeds to it because they are more suitable for meat and egg production than local chickens.

Also, its slow growth rate puts a lot of farmers away.

local chickens grazing openly in a farm

How do I start my own local chicken farm?

If you have an intention to start your own local chicken farming business, then follow these steps below.

1. Get a good location for the local chickens:

This is very fundamental to the success of your local chicken farming business.

The first thing you must do is to get a good location for the local chickens.

It should be suitable depending on the purpose of rearing the local chickens. 

If it’s for commercial purposes then it should be close to the market where you can easily sell.

Also, if it’s for domestic use, certainly it would find comfort in your backyard.

2. Construct a poultry house for the local chicken:

Constructing a poultry house for your local chickens is very important.

When constructing the poultry house, it should meet the following qualities;

  • It should be rainproof.
  • The walls of the poultry house should be hard and smooth to avoid pests and mites.
  • It should be wide enough to harbour chicks.
  • There should be a nest where the chickens can lay their eggs.
  • The poultry house must also be easily accessible.
  • Ensure it allows good ventilation for the birds.
  • The pen must provide protection from windy rains.
  • It should be convenient and easy to clean.
  • There should be a good lighting and heating system for the birds. 
  • You should have different poultry houses to keep the chickens according to their age.

3. Put necessary poultry farming equipment in the poultry house:

After building your poultry house, the next thing is to bring into the necessary equipment for growing local chickens.

The poultry farming equipment will help to ease the stress in the farm thereby increasing productivity.

Some of the equipment you will need in your poultry farm include the following;

  • Feeding trough.
  • Drinkers.
  • Light bulbs, charcoal stove for heat etc. 
  • Cleaning materials like brooms and parkers, disinfectant etc should be kept in the poultry house for easy management.

4. Buy good local chicken breeds:

The next step is to buy good local chicken breeds.

For a healthy business, healthy chicken breeds are very essential. 

You can purchase local chickens from a hatchery or from an existing local chicken farm in your area.

This will enable you to commence your own business immediately. 

Ensure that the chicks are healthy before purchasing them to avoid losses at the beginning of your business.

5. Provide food and water for the local chickens:

Now that the local chickens are on your farm, you need to feed them well.

Local chickens have a very wide variety of food that they can eat.

You can feed them with formulated poultry feed, maize chaff, wheat bran or your kitchen waste.

Fruits and vegetables are not bad ideas, only make sure it is fresh and chopped into sizes the chicken can swallow.

Local chickens need a lot of carbs to meet their energy needs and make them put on weight.

But to make the local chickens grow faster, you need a high protein diet like bone meal, fish meal and soya beans.

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There are other animals and plant-based sources of high-quality proteins for your chickens. 

Just make sure that you are feeding the birds with those.

6. Maintain hygiene in your local chicken farm:

Even though local chickens are not easily affected by a lot of poultry diseases, you still need to maintain high standards of hygiene. 

Having a clean environment helps to reduce the spread of diseases and pest infestation. 

A healthy chick entails a healthy harvest in terms of good meat and egg thereby increasing profit. 

Therefore, maintaining good hygiene is an essential feature in starting your own local chicken farm.

How to improve productivity in your local chicken farm

What is the essence of having a business when you don’t aim to have an improvement in your productivity? 

Well, you can consider these points as a guide towards the improvement in the productivity of your local chicken farm.

1. Keep daily records on the farm: 

This is an essential feature in the improvement of one’s business.

Keeping records of what goes in and out of your farm is very important.

It helps you to calculate and understand the processes in managing your local chicken farm.

Here are some records that you need to keep in your poultry farm:

  • Records of how many chickens are due for reproduction.
  • The number of chickens available in the poultry house.
  • Number of chickens in isolation.
  • How many eggs are hatched?
  • How many eggs are broken eggs?
  • What is the amount of feed given to the chicken per day? 

These records will help you to improve the productivity level of your local chicken farm.

2. Carry out daily sanitation on the farm: 

Daily sanitation is another important activity that will positively affect the growth of your poultry farm.

Ensuring a clean environment helps to reduce the spread of diseases and parasites.

As a result, it is good way to reduce the number of deaths in the poultry house.

So, you need to make sure that you sweep off the chickens dungs regularly. 

Also, do not forget to clean the feeding troughs and drinkers.

3. Feed the birds well:

All living things need good food to grow and survive.

So, if you want your local chickens to grow really fast and reproduce, you must feed them well.

Give them good food and fresh clean water every day.

4. Temperature management: 

We already know that local chickens can survive harsh weather conditions than hybrid chicken breeds.

However, you don’t need to expose them to such conditions longer than they can endure.

Therefore, you must ensure a temperature range of 32C – 35C, lowered by 0.2C per day.

Also, maintain a relative humidity of 50% to 70%.

This will help to improve the health status of the chickens.

A temperature that is too hot or too cold is not advisable because it reduces the activeness of the chickens.

For instance, there will a reduction in activities like eating, drinking and running around which are essential for survival.

Conclusion

As a beginner in the poultry farming business, it is advisable that you test the waters by starting with local chicken breeds. 

They are hardy and easily adapt easily to diverse environments.

This article is a useful guide that will help you to achieve success in local chicken farming. 

Please, share this article now to help someone who may need it.

References:

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