Raising Broilers, Layers and Cockerels in Nigeria

Broiler Production:

Broilers are meat birds that have been genetically conditioned to grow very fast. They attain market weight (over 2kg) in 6-10 weeks depending on management. They can get sick easily if you don’t manage them well. Broiler chicks goes for N200-N280/chick.

Space Requirement: Stock at 20-25 chicks/m2. 8 weeks old broilers requires 900cm2 or 0.09m2 per bird. See: House Size For Chicken for details.

Feed Requirement for broilers: A broiler requires about 8kg of feed within the first 8 weeks. It consumes about 2kg in the first 4 weeks and about 6kg from 5 to 8 weeks. They’re given starter feed for the first 4-5 weeks and broiler finisher feed until they attain the desired market weight (at 6-9 weeks of age depending on market demand). See broiler feed and body weight chart below.

Broiler feed and body weight chart

Broiler feed and body weight chart

Keeping broilers beyond 9 weeks is not economical because as they get older, they eat more but grow less. But if you intend to rear beyond 9 weeks due to some reasons, make sure you revaccinate with lasota monthly. It is also advisable to target festive periods (Christmas, Easter etc) if you intend to raise them beyond 9 weeks. This is because the high selling price will cover your expenses and give you enough profit.

Vitamin Supplementation: Give broilers vitamins for 3 consecutive days every other week.

Vaccination Plan: Below is a sample vaccination plan for broilers. Vaccinate for fowlpox if you plan raising them beyond 8 weeks or if fowlpox disease is prevalent in your area. They can be vaccinated at 1 day old on the wing web using single needle applicator. Use tissue culture vaccine, not chick embryo vaccine (read vaccine instruction before use). Fowlpox has a wet form (causes respiratory symptoms) that is much more dangerous than the dry form (scabs on chicken’s face). So beware. Below is a sample vaccination plan for broilers:


Don’t let these names scare you. Ask poultry farmers and they’ll show you where to buy these vaccines. If you don’t know how to give injections, ask a vet for help. Ask other farmers to help you locate one.

ND = Newcastle disease

a. ND Lasota vaccine is a live and potent lentogenic strain ND vaccine given through drinking water at 1.5 to 2 doses/bird.

b. IBD Gumboro vaccine is a live and intermediate strain IBD vaccine given through drinking water at 1.5 to 2 doses/bird.

c. When vaccinating through drinking water, use 1/4th of the total volume of water consumed on previous day  by birds and this should be done after 2 hours of water deprivation( period within which they should be allowed to feed) so as to increase thirst. Vaccine water should be equally distributed in drinkers and the drinkers should be well spread in the pen. Where birds are to be vaccinated against coccidiosis, special attention must be paid to litter management, so as to avoid an outbreak. See: How to Give Coccodiosis Vaccine to Chicks.

a. Deworm and delouse at week 8 and week 16.

b. Adhere strictly to all other bio-security measures and report all abnormal signs in birds to the laboratory as soon as possible.

c. Anti-mycoplasmal drugs like Anitylodox® (contains doxycycline and tylodox) should be used for  prevention  of  C.R.D. at  weeks  2 ,6 & 10.

d. If you did not vaccinate against coccidiosis, give preventive dose of drugs like Dicoxin®, amprolium etc starting from day 9 of age to day 13. Repeat once in 2 to 3 weeks while birds are still on the floor.

Egg Production:

Commercial eggs come from layers. From day old, they start laying at 18-24 weeks depending on breed and farm management. Laying period can last for 72 weeks and a hen can lay 240 to over 300 eggs per year. Layers chicks goes for N180-N200/chick (2015 price!).

The brown and black layers are popular in Nigeria. The brown layer can start laying at 18 weeks depending on farm management and light duration. This is not desirable because it can lead to prolapse, cloacae rupture and other problems. The best time for start of lay is 20 weeks.

Brown layers lay more eggs than black ones at the expense of egg size. Black hens tend to lay bigger but fewer eggs. They also start laying at a later period. With regard to high temperature, brown layers will tolerate heat stress better than blacks because of their colours (black color absorbs and retain heat). In terms of sales price when laying ends, blacks will fetch a higher price because of their higher body weight (but in some places in Nigeria both are priced alike).

Feed Requirement: See Feed Consumption Plan and Body Weight Target for Laying Hens.

Space Requirement: Stock layers in deep litter at 2000cm2 or 0.2m2/bird. For those in cages, stock at 460cm2 (0.46m2/bird). This covers the feeding and drinking spaces. Stock chicks at 20-25 chicks/m2, increasing the space as they get older.

Deworming: Deworm monthly until they reach 6 months of age. Then deworm every 3 months for birds on deep litter and every 4 months for birds in cages. Follow it with 3-5 days of vitamins/minerals. Deworming drugs for poultry include Ivermectin, Levamisole, Piperazine etc. Ivermectin also control external parasites like lice and mites.

Vitamin Supplementation: Give layers vitamins for about 5 consecutive days every 28 days at peak of lay. When laying begins to decline, reduce to 3-5 days every other week. Also give it before and after stress periods like debeaking, heat/cold, rehousing, sickness etc.

Vaccination: See Layers Vaccination & Medication Plan.

Cockerel Production

Cockerels are the male counterpart of layers and they’re kept mainly for meat. They grow slowly, attaining market weight in 4-6 months. They are very cheap at day old (as low as N25/chick. This was 2015 price!) and can be reared economically under semi intensive system. In this system, day old cockerels are brooded for 4-8 weeks with balanced chick feed. After which they are left to free range (find feed for themselves) or are given low quality feed (self formulated or give grower feed if it is not costly in your area) until they attain market weight. Due to their slow growth rate, it is not economical to rear cockerels intensively after 6- 8 weeks of age.

Caring for Day Old Chicks in Africa

The success of poultry business can be greatly affected by management during the first week of life. It is also advisable to buy chicks from reputable hatcheries. A practicing veterinary or poultry farmer in your area will be at the best position to tell you which hatchery to buy from. Also note that a good hatchery today may be bad tomorrow.

Before Chicks Arrival

  • Cleaning: About 2 weeks before arrival of chicks, wash the house thoroughly (walls, floor, ceiling etc) with soap, a disinfectant and water. Use a disinfectant meant for animal pen because house-hold disinfectants may not be effective in killing pathogens found in poultry houses. Fumigating the house is also an added advantage.


After washing, you can you can cover the floor with a 2% solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, NaOH. 20g NaOH per Liter water). You will need 3L of this solution for every 1m2 of floor area. You can make 3L of this solution by dissolving 60g NaOH in 3L of water. Leave the NaOH solution on the floor for 1 day before rinsing it off with water.

  • Prepare the brooding area: Give enough space to avoid overstocking. Stock at 20-25 chicks/m2. Use a layer of wood shavings on the floor to help insulate chicks’ feet and body from cold floor. Note that Floor temperature is more important than air temperature.

Read: Raising Chicks: Things You Must Do During the First Week.

  • Temperature: Start heating up the brooding area at least 24 hours before the chicks arrive. This will help to raise floor temperature to recommended level. Charcoal stove, kerosene stove or gas brooder can be used to supply heat. Mere lanterns cannot serve as heaters.
recommended brooding temperature for chicks

Source: (1)P. 4

Note: These temperatures are measured at chick/bird level. When brooders are used, the measurement is taken under the brooder at chick level. In all, room temperature can be lower than temperature at chick level.

You can save fuel cost  by raising chicks in a cage like the one below. Use an incandescent bulb as heat source and cover the cage with cardboard or plastic sheets. Leave small space at the top for air to circulate.

  • Ventilation: In a bid to keep the birds warm, some people seal up the brooding area. This is a very dangerous practice that can cause the chicks to suffocate. You must allow some space at the top to let in fresh air and expel used gases like CO2 and ammonia. Ammonia can retard growth and make your chicks to fall sick often (respiratory diseases).
  • Drinkers and Feeders: Provide enough drinkers and feeders to avoid differences in growth rate. All the birds should be able to feed at the same time without struggling.

Chicks Arrival

  • If possible, chicks should arrive in the farm in the morning when the weather is still cool. This will reduce mortality.
  • Lab Test: If you have large number of birds to justify the cost of paying for laboratory test, do so. The test is done in an animal laboratory. It helps you to know exactly when to give each vaccine to avoid vaccine failure.

Read: Serological Monitoring for Egg Layers: An Effective Way to Determine Effectiveness of Past Vaccinations.

  • To help chicks cope with the stress of transportation, give them glucose (@10-20g/4L drinking water) and commercial multivitamins for birds. You can substitute glucose for sugar @ 3 tablespoons/liter water. You can also give antibiotics to help ward off diseases.
  • Separate weak chicks and help them to drink and feed.
  • Feeding: For the first 4 weeks, give feed free choice. Broilers can be given feed free choice throughout their life to make them grow faster, but for layers, feed must be controlled to prevent low egg production. Fat hens makes poor layers.

Read: Feed Consumption Plan and Body Weight Target for Laying Hens.

  • A lot of chicks can die as a result of pilling up in a corner. Prevent this by placing boards across the 4 corners of the brooding section or by using round brooder guards. To avoid accidents, you have to monitor them frequently to make sure that temperature, water, feed etc are ok.
  • Chicks require about 23 hours of light daily during the first 4 weeks to enable them to eat and drink. This decreases as they grow older. For layers, light control is very important because it determines start of lay, egg size, mortality etc.
  • Medium scale farmers should employ the services of a veterinary doctor to help with issue of disease prevention and treatment.

Also Read:

  1. Health-giving and Growth-promoting Herbs for Chickens.
  2. 10 Tips on How to Avoid Early Chick Mortalities.
  3. Antibiotic Resistance: How Herbs and Plant Extracts can Help.
  4. Chicken Health: Avoiding Antibiotic Abuse through Laboratory Tests.

Works Cited

  1. Download 2009_Hy-Line_Brown.pdf. PoultryHub.org. [Online] March 2011. http://www.poultryhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2009_Hy-Line_Brown.pdf.
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