Raising Meat Chickens (Broilers) Sustainably

General Approach:  Start clearing, fencing, fertilizing and planting with high-protein forage crops as much available land as possible.  Start with the slopes above Phase I villas (currently planted in fruit trees). Integrate nutrient flows with aquaponics systems to be built in the same area. Current goal is to produce 20 1 kg broilers per week.  If it takes 60-80 days (9-12 weeks) to grow them out from hatching to slaughter, we will need sufficient land area, supplemental feed, water and shelter for between 180 and 240 chickens. We will also need separate brooding areas for hatching and rearing young chicks.  We will also need improved facilities for slaughtering and preparing the birds. This operation will grow to over 100+ birds/week. Things to experiment with and learn include:

  1. different densities (maximum No. of chickens per M^2 of land),
  2. different supplemental feeds (corn grown on site, duckweed, worms and/or grubs (soldier fly larvae) from vermiculture system, kitchen waste. etc)
  3. different forage crops (from manicillo to cana de cuido to sugar cane to mulberry…??)
  4. Yarding them with the goats.
  5. fertilizing the forage crops with tilapia pond sludge, compost from soil amendment center, MM, etc…
  6. Integration with aquaponics systems

After we learn from our initial experiments, we will have a better idea of how to ramp up production as the OMV community population grows.

Additional resource information:

Utilisation of Poultry Feed Resources by Smallholders in the Villages of Developing Countries

FAO document.  Useful info to estimate growth rate for free range chickens using (SFRB: Scavengeable Feed Resource Base). In contrast to high-density, intensively produced broilers raised on commercial  feed which is like 60 days. Includes calculations to answer: “How many hens, growers, chicks and cocks are expected in the average family flock?” Apply the formula:

ME/bird daily = W0.75 (173–1.95T) + 5.5 ? W + 2.07 EE

to each class of birds (National Research Council 1994).

ME = Metabolic Energy
W = body weight (kg)
T = ambient temperature (ôC)
? W = change in body weight (g/day)
EE = egg mass (g/day)

Feed Supplements to Pasturage for Growth of Chickens

“Good range and pasturage offer the best opportunities for reducing feed costs in production of pullets for egg production and for the production of 4- to 6-pound chickens for marketing. How then can these opportunities be realized by poultry raisers to the fullest extent? What feed is necessary to supplement pasturage for satisfactory growth of chickens? To answer these questions, extensive experiments have been in progress during the past four years at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station.”

Poultry – Understanding Broiler Growth

The following is an article on understanding growth in broilers from the University of Arkansas.

The growth curve shown below is typical of broiler growth. Growth curves for virtually all animal species resemble this curve. However, it is important to realize that the period of rapid growth is short lived and growth slows almost as quickly as it began.

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