Poultry has emerged as the fastest growing segment not only in the livestock sector, but of agriculture sector as a whole. Poultry keeping, both, on a small scale and large scale has flourished all over the world. Many have taken it as a main or subsidiary source of income, but several others cannot take it up due to lack of authentic information and guidelines.


= In comparison to other livestock, poultry farming requires less investment to start the farming on commercial scale. Agricultural labourers, marginal and small farmers, will profit adequately if they start this business on a small scale.

= The average investment on fixed capital and total cost of rearing 100 chicks to the point of lay, works out to be Rs 10,000 only.

= The layers start laying at 18 months for one year.

= The normal economic life of a bird is therefore 18 months after which it is sold as a bird meat.

= The broiler can be sold at 6 weeks when it attains a live weight of approximately 1.250 kg.

= For 200 birds per cycle of 6 weeks amounting to 8 cycles, the investment is only Rs 9,000.

 Rapid return or profit

= Chicken start laying eggs when they are about 6 to 8 months of age and broilers get ready to be marketed for poultry meat at the age between 6 to 10 weeks.

= As the interval between the poultry generations is very short, it is possible to bring about a phenomenal increase in poultry production in short interval. For example, starting with a set of pullet and a cockerel, it is possible to produce 2,500 commercial pullets within 40 months which in turn can lay half a million eggs within 18 months. In term of high quality protein, it would amount to 3 tonnes.

Feed conversion efficiency

= Broilers have a very good feed conversion ratio. This implies that broilers are capable of producing the maximum possible amount of food for us but themselves utilize only a small quantity of feed.

= Table shows the quantity of feed required in kilogram to produce 1 kg of product. Nine kg of feed is required to produce 1 kg of beef, but it takes only 1.1 kg of feed to produce 1 litre of milk. 2.1 -2.3 kg of feed is required by a broiler to produce 1 kg of broiler meat Broilers thus have a high feed conversion efficiency.

 Poultry provides a continuous source of income

Poultry is not a seasonal industry but gives a good income throughout the year with minimum labour and expenditure. Moreover, the farmer also starts getting returns very early, as layers start laying at their, age of 6-8 months. Broilers start paying within 6 to 10 weeks. the farmers can take good care of poultry and earn a substantial income from eggs, meat, feathers and manure.

Table :  Feed conversion ration of domestic birds & animals.





Feed conversion ratio (feed: product in kg)


































Farming requires small space

Poultry requires minimum space with modem confinement rearing and may be profitably reared in the backyard of homes. A big compound or a large open space is not essential. Each bird requires as little as 1 sq ft by a deep liner system and even less in case of cages and battery systems.


Water requirements are less

Unlike the land cultivation or dairy farming, poultry farming requires very little water both for drinking and cleaning purposes. One litre of water will be sufficient for 5 birds in a day.

Stabilize farm income

Farmers may experience crop failures due to unfavorable weather conditions or for other reasons. Poultry raising as a side business will tend to stabilize farm income. It helps the farmers in other ways too. For example, it gives subsidiary income, supplies fertilizers at no extra cost, cleans the crops from pests and worms, utilizes waste products and provides off-season employment.

Poultry feeds do not compete with human food

Poultry is capable of utilizing large quantities of by-products like bran, substandard grains and vegetables profitably. A regular laying hen converts vegetable proteins into valuable animal proteins with an efficiency which is perhaps the highest among all domestic animals. The birds when put on stubbles (in newly harvested fields) will pick up the grains which would otherwise go waste. Similarly, if they are put on the threshing and winnowing floors after the operations are over, nothing will be wasted. Large quantities of agro-industrial by-products are utilized by poultry, thus converting all such waste materials into valuable edible products.

Employment opportunities

Poultry farming offers opportunities for full time or part-time employment to men, women, children and elderly people on the farm operation. No hard labour is required for a poultry unit. Poultry is easy to manage since the birds arc docile. Poultry farming also provides indirect employment to the people with regard to transportation and distribution among the consumers. It supports l ancillary industries like feed mixing units, poultry equipment manufacturers, hatcheries, chicken processing units etc.

Poultry gives rich fertilizer

Poultry manure is an extremely rich source of nitrogen and organic material. Hence they are highly regarded as fertilizer. A laying hen produces about 220 g of fresh droppings (75% moisture) every day. The poultry droppings are higher in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium content than cow dung, as is evident from table 2.


Table : Average nutrient content of poultry dropping compared with other manures




Fresh manure








Poultry manure

1.0 to 1.8

1.4 to 1.8

0.8 to 0.9


Cattle dung

0.3 to 0.4

0.1 to 0.2

0.1 to 0.3


Night soil

1.0 to 1.6

0.8 to 1.2

0.2 to 0.6


Sheep dung

0.5 to 0.7

0.4 to 0.6

0.3 to 1.0


Horse dung

0.4 to 0.5

0.3 to 0.4

0.3 to 0.4


The manure may also be in the form of used, old, built-up litters which are cleaned either yearly or once in two years. This litter is a balanced fertilizer containing 3% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus, 2% potash and humus. One tonne (10 quintals) of litters, produced by 40 layers in a year, is equivalent to about 140 kg of ammonium sulphate, 125 kg of super phosphate and 45 kg of potassium. This fertilizer is sufficient to cultivate one acre of paddy and half an acre of vegetables profitably.


In the case of young crops, the birds can be let loose in the field when the crop is one foot high. They will not only enrich the field with their droppings, but will also eat the worms and insects affecting the crop.



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