Poultry farming in South Africa is becoming increasingly popular, with many people flocking to start their own operations. However, most of them do not know how to get their business off the ground and ensure its sustainability. Vutivi News spoke with poultry farmer and poultry expert, Sifiso Tshonaphi, on the first steps one should take if they are interested in chicken farming.
“The first thing prospective farmers should do is do some research,” he explained. “If they have internet access, they can always read articles and watch YouTube videos that teach people how to raise chickens. “If they don’t have internet access, they can download a document called the Broiler Manual, which gives them step-by-step instructions on how to grow a chicken from day one to the slaughter,” he said.
Tshonaphi, who worked for major poultry brand Rainbow Chicken for years before establishing his own business, said that prospective farmers could also learn from existing farmers. “They can also consult other farmers around their area, spend time with them and see how they run their farms,” he pointed out.
“They can attend one or two-day short poultry courses, which will help them interact with farmers and get inside information on the poultry sector and trends behind raising chickens.” This, according to Tshonaphi, counted as practical experience, which was essential. “Sometimes there is a difference between reading and learning by experience,” he noted.
Tshonaphi also said that prospective farmers should know the difference between broiler and layer chickens. Broiler chickens are grown for meat consumption and layers are grown to lay eggs. “Broilers can grow until 42 days before they are sold, and layers can be reared for up to 100 weeks, as they start laying eggs when they are 19 or 20 weeks old.”
Tshonaphi also advised that the structure a farmer used was properly insulated, ventilated and roofed. “One needs not to start with a fancy chicken house, as long as they have a roof which will prevent water from affecting the chickens,” he explained. Poultry farming came with the risk of diseases, which could be contracted through the air, rats, vehicles or humans.
“It is, therefore, very important for them to vaccinate their chickens and make sure to treat them when sick,” Tshonapi said. “Farmers must also control the bacteria that goes into the farm, and this can be done by disinfecting whoever enters or leaves the chicken house.”
The poultry industry has been identified by the Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development as an industry with growth opportunities for new entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers. But a virtual poultry masterclass attended by the department last year heard that for those who wanted to start a profitable business, between R20,000 and R50,000 was needed depending on the size of the business.