While surfing online, I found a lot of articles about raising chicken for home consumption or for business. Although health concerns about commercial chicken is widespread in the internet, most people in our area don’t really care at all. Why? Because commercial chicken is just right in size, cleaner, leaner and is the price is almost the same with the local farms—why opt for chicken if you are unsure of its quality.
I can see that the chicken is a booming industry in Leyte, PH. Several farms are opening within the region. Some offers organic chicken while others are farms of large companies. I was once in an interview of a City Councillor and I found out that our region is still exporting chicken even there’s still a high demand in our region. That only shows that there is not enough chicken to feed the growing demand.
Chicken is choice to most of the locals when fish is scarce especially during rainy season. Although pork is a staple to very home, chicken has always been part of the meals of Filipinos. We enjoy a savoury chicken Adobo, inasal, and specially fried chicken.
I was thinking of raising chicken because it sounds profitable. I have more than a year of studying how-to-raise-chicken but that was about six years ago! Back then we were taught basically about everything and one thing I can’t forget is the Archaeopteryx—that looks like a dinosaur slash bird slash Sci-Fi monster. So I look online on what tips and techniques that I can apply.
While several articles came from people who are living in colder parts of the world, most things still apply when you live in a tropical country with only two season. But one problem is our region does not follow six months of sunny weather and another six months of rainfall unlike several other regions. Leyte has rain distributed throughout the rain, may it be in the early in the morning/afternoon or all throughout the day.
So here are the things I have encountered in raising chickens:
- Make a battle plan first
Before you start buying chicks and raising them indecisively, you must first consult someone who is an expert or who has already an experience. You can observe in farms or just search online. Through different ideas you have gathered, choose something relevant to your skills and time—and even to the area you plan to raise. Check if you have enough time to spare because chicken might need much of your time at the beginning. See also if you can carry out basic skills or if you have patience to raise chicken. If you are already decided, see whether you have neighbour—or family—won’t be bothered buy any smell or sound. And lastly, ask yourself how much chicken you could sell or eat so that you’ll know how many will you raise.
- Be creative and save money
You don’t need to buy or hire someone to make you a housing. Look around your house if you have a hammer, nails etc. If you need to buy lumber, screen, plywood, or galvanized iron, draw a blueprint so you can save on your expenses. But if you can’t really do carpentry, better ask someone before ending up hurting yourself. I was thinking of buying only a few chicks, so I only made a small cage, about 1 x 1.5 x 1m [I know that’s too small for five chickens.]
I used some piece of lumber, some bamboo, and screen to make one. I was just raising chicken for experience so I just started with five chicks. I also bought a feeder and a waterer.
- The chicken needs your time
When the chicks are still few weeks old, they need heat. You also need to check for temperature or observe some odd behaviours especially if you are raising a lot of chickens. You must also check whether the feeds and water are enough. Also check if there are poop on the feeder or waterer, if there is, replace the feeds or water. As the chicken grows, you can visit the chicken less—in the morning and in the evening.
- Safety and health of the chickens
You’ve been raising chicken for a few weeks already and you are keen on the safety and health of the chicken. Your chicken need not to be super healthy, they just need to look fine and without displaying odd behaviours. Make sure that your housing is always locked when you’re not around. If it’s big, check if there are no dogs, cats etc. that might kill or shock the chickens.
- Feeds are becoming costly
You can find online on what specific feeds are needed in every stage of the growing chicken. First, decide on how mature the chicken before slaughtering. I have planned of selling dressed chicken on the sixth month after buying the chicks. The chicks are more than a week old. You can search a lot of sources on what and how much you need to feed your chicken. Then you can compute how much feeds you need to buy, I prefer buying wholesale when needed so that you’ll have enough stock and not let your chicken go hungry. I followed the advice of our agriculture teacher of applying an ad libitum feeding. I also placed a light bulb so they can feed for 24 hours. As they grow bigger, the waterer needs to be replaced more often.
Sometime later, you’ll realize that you have spent much and your chicken are still few weeks before they can be sold or eaten. If you ponder if there are other substitutes, you’re lucky because there are many feedstuff you can find or grow which are organic and healthier. Arachis pintoi is locally known as Mani-mani. It resembles the appearance a peanut plant. It is high in protein and can be mixed with rice bran for carbohydrates. You just need to dry and grind/pulverize before it can be utilized as a feedstuff. You can also mixed it in certain amount with commercial feeds to lessen your expenses.
While it is fun watching your chicks turn into giant chickens, note that they poop 24-7! If you don’t want pesky flies and some annoying odour, you might as well man-up to maintain cleanliness—and that is to dispose chicken dung before it add up in layers. While you can sell chicken dung or turn it into fertilizer, you can bury it so that no maggots can grow in.
- Cut-off the bond
Some people get too emotional with the chickens, with more than a month of interaction there becomes a master-and-pet relationship. I don’t think a lot of people would be like this. But if this ever happen, would you feed them until they die—that’s about six year of restless expenses.
- To sell or not
At first, what are your plan? Did you intend to consume the chicken or sell it? Do you want to sell live chicken or you would personally slaughter and dress it before selling? Find a person who can buy your chicken or sell it to your family, friends, or neighbours. When you dress your chicken by yourself, you can sell the feet, neck and entrails in a separate price. If you can’t carry out the tough work of dressing chicken, you should probably sell it alive—that is quicker but is less profitable.
- Was it worth it?
When you have sold all or cooked the last piece, was it all worth the money or effort? If you’re into real small-scale business, you might as do some maths to check if you have profit. If you raised chicken for consumption, see if you have saved from your monthly bill or just destroyed your budget. Either way, the first time may not be the best experience for some but you can always learn from it.
- Preparing for another batch
You’re planning on making a larger housing and a few more chicken to raise, you must always check everything again and go back to #1. But if you plan to reuse all the equipment, always clean everything and sanitize. Make sure the next batch won’t get diseases from the previous batch.
Few more words…
It’s been about two weeks and I planning to raise another batch of chickens. My mother planned to raise layers too. So if you would plan to raise chickens too, don’t be afraid to start. There will always risks but it will be always worth the risk! See you again soon.