How to guide for keeping Egg laying birds (Layers) in Uganda
If you've been planning on starting a commercial Poultry Farm with layers, kindly take time and review this
poultry guide for managing your birds before you even start building your poultry house in Uganda.
But first, let us hear what some poultry farmers for layers have to say:
Ms Mutyaba, who has 500 chicken, sells 10-15 trays of eggs every day to whole sellers at Shs7,000 per tray.
If there happens to be a low egg production, the farmer attributes it to the weather conditions
like thunder and heavy winds that affect the chicken.
Mr Lawrence Kulumba, another chicken farmer, collects 26 trays of eggs every day that he sells to wholesalers
and retail shop owners. He currently has 1,000 layers and sells a tray between Shs7,000 and Shs7,500.
“I only supply wholesalers and retailers because they are easy to deal with. In most cases,
I already know how many people I am to supply on a particular day because I get the orders a day before,” he adds.
“I don’t deal with supermarkets because of the delays in payment yet I always have to purchase the feed and other
things to feed the chicken in order to get more eggs,” he says.
Before your Layer chicks arrive at home
make sure that;
- A brooder is in place
- Paraffin lamps/electric bulbs/charcoal stove is available
- Litter for the floor is available
- 1m2 will accommodate 20 chicks upto 4 weeks old.
- Temperature control: 350C for day-old chicks, 24-270C for 1 week.
- Reduce heat as they grow especially at night.
Feeding your Layers
Layers – 1 to 8 weeks feed on chick mash, after 8 weeks introduce growers mash gradually, then with layers mash
after drop of first egg.
From the day a layer chick hatches, the chicken takes about five months before it starts laying eggs.
As a poultry farmer you must be prepared to meet the expense of rearing these young birds (pullets) through this period.
Feeding the young pullets is a major challenge. In an effort to cut down costs, many farmers make the mistake to
underfeed the birds during this pre-lay period.
When your hens are laying eggs, you may not feel the burden of purchasing feeds since they are generating some
income from the sale of eggs.
Do not forget that the performance of your commercial layers is greatly influenced by how you
manage them in brooding and pullet growing phases.
There must be clear performance indicators which you have to monitor during the brooding, growing and laying phases
of egg-type chickens (layers).
Body weight is a major performance indicator.
Under-feeding pullets produces underweight
birds which mature late, produce small eggs and decline more sharply after peak egg production.
Overfeeding produces overweight birds. Overweight pullets are not good because they neither attain nor
sustain high egg production.
Pullets which have been raised well attain high peak production and are less prone to
subsequent egg production problems.
How to mix chick Mash
Give your layers Chick Mash from 0-6 weeks Starter.
For 100 kg of Maize brand mix with 12 kg fish, 10 kg sun flower, 10 kg cotton, and 4 kg shells.
How to mix grower's mash
Grower's mash is also called layer replacement/developer/gain and you give it upto 10 weeks.
You will give grower's mash as gian prior to selling off your birds for meat in the market as
what in Uganda most of us call off layers.
You mix 100 Kg of Maize brand with 15 kg fish meal, 12 Kg cotton seed cake, 8kg of shells,
4 kg bones, ½ Kg calcium, ½ Kg premix, 50 gm Furazolodine, 1 kg red salt, 1 kg fossil.
How to mix layer's Mash
Given your chicken layers mash from start of Egg laying to selling off, typically a 20 weeks egg laying cycle.
For every 100 kg of maize brand, mix 25 kg of fish meal, 10 kg of Sunflower, 10 kg of cotton seed cake, 8 kg of shells,
1/2kg of calcium, 3/4kg Primix, 150 gm of Lysin and 2 kg of Red salt.
Good management practices/tips for your layer chicken
- Allow for good air circulation in your poulty house for egg laying birds
- Layer needs on average 120 gm of food per day
- Distribute food troughs and water troughs evenly (one basin/50 birds)
- Provide grit at 20 weeks, you give your birds small, loose particles of stone or sand.
- Laying nests must be kept in dark places, collect eggs 3 times a day, allow a nest for every 5 layer hens
- Provide soft clean litter
- Store eggs with the small end facing down
- Clean dirty eggs with steel wool/coarse leaves, Never wash your eggs
- Add greens to the diet of your layers and whenever possible vitamins to their water
- Debeak your layer chicken at onset of egg laying
- Cull your Layers when egg production drops below 40%. To cull, simply means you start slaughtering your birds for meat.
How to identify the characteristics of a good layer
- Look for the bright red comb and wattles
- Good layer should have Alert eyes
- Width between pelvic bones should measure at least 2 fingers, big enough for the egg to pass through!
- The beak and claws should look bleached
- The cloaca (behind) should be moist, well lubricated for the egg to slide over.
How to store your eggs well
Keep your eggs away from cooking heat, do not store eggs in a kitchen where it is hot.
Heat might partially incubate your eggs and kill the embryos in them
Do not store them on top of a cupboard where heat from the roof can reach your eggs and incubate them.
Keep your eggs in a cool secure dry place.
Do not wash your eggs with water
The records you should keep for your layers
- Production data e.g. number of eggs produced
- Amount of food eaten
- Health interventions e.g. treatment
- Sales and purchases