document is available as a PDF download here.
poultry farming is when a company and a farmer
decide to produce breeders, broilers, turkeys,
quail or commercial laying hens by signing a contract
between them. This arrangement has been successful
for over 50 years and is one of the most secure
and financially successful forms of agricultural
production. Success is achieved when both entities
do their part to achieve maximum performance from
the birds. The company furnishes the feed that
has been formulated by professional nutritionists
to satisfy all the performance needs of the birds.
A prospective poultry producer is expected to furnish
and maintain the best possible housing, equipment
and daily management to assure maximum performance.
Marketing needs may change your types of production
such as sizes of the birds. The industry produces
small birds for Cornish hens, very large birds
for deboning and all sizes in between. Cooperation
by the companies and poultry producers will help
both be successful. Below are some facts that may
help you decide if poultry farming is for you.
- A contract to grow poultry must be made with a poultry company before building any poultry houses.
- Property should be located where access to the complex facilities - feed mill, processing plant,
hatchery etc. - is relatively easy.
- Poultry houses must conform to industry standards and may vary from company to company.
- Poultry house equipment must conform to industry standards and may vary as well.
- Poultry house locations are regulated by the S.C. DHEC
- The areas around the poultry buildings must be able to accommodate feed trucks, catch and haul equipment and other traffic.
- Size and number of houses will be decided upon with the poultry company before any construction.
- If you are considering purchasing an existing poultry operation, the company that you will be growing for needs to visit the property along with you to determine if it is suitable for growing birds. At this time, building improvements and extra equipment can be discussed.
- The lending agency that you decide to use will
help you with the financial arrangement.
of income from the proposed poultry operation need
to be reviewed with company personnel. Study the
contracts carefully. You cannot plan on getting
average pay on the contact each flock. You should
plan to have reserves to cover your expenses in
the case of low pay periods and longer times due
to market conditions etc. There is no set amount
of income you can expect to receive; however, the
financial swings in poultry are less than other
- Enough insurance to cover the cost
of buildings and loss of income following a disaster - storm,
ice etc. is a must. It should be reviewed annually
to determine that the farm is adequately covered.
- Money management and cash flow are very important
as well as a good financial record keeping system
for the poultry operation.
Critical Management Factors
- Your poultry company will have a management program
that all growers are expected to follow. Your field
representative will work closely with you on what
is expected and the best ways to produce a quality
product. You need to discuss the time required
to manage your houses so that you may plan for
- Keep your buildings and equipment
properly maintained and in top working order. Preventative
maintenance is a daily job. More maintenance is
required on an older house and equipment.
be ready in advance for bird arrival. Your field
representative will work with you to prepare your
houses. The first few days are critical to good
- The house must be at the proper
temperature (to program specifications), feed and
water ready and environmental controls working
- Be prepared to spend considerable
time with your flock, especially during the first
few days, to assure proper environment and husbandry.
- Keep good flock records-mortality, feed deliveries,
- Collect and dispose of dead birds
daily, along with monitoring feed, water and air. Good
housekeeping is vital to success.
- Your main job
is to manage the flock throughout the production period.
Report problems to your field representative immediately.
- Be aware that the size of the birds produced and
time between batches may vary according to market demand.
- Vacation needs to be scheduled around flocks.
- Be vigilant in your biosecurity. Allow only authorized
personnel on the farm, avoid going to other farms yourself
and avoid contact with all other forms of poultry.
Outside the House
- Temperature - Should be kept at optimum level regardless
of age of birds or season. Your system should be able
to respond to changing weather conditions night and
- Ventilation - replaces oxygen used by birds,
removes moisture and ammonia and must continually be
- Feed and water - Keep plentiful and clean
according to production program.
- Husbandry - study
the flock daily for signs of discomfort, disease, proper
feed and water consumption. With experience, you should
be able to look at the birds and determine if they
have a problem.
- Understand that you are working
with a live animal that may have special needs.
Culling chickens is a key part of the job.
- Disposal of dead birds must be done according to
state regulations. Your field manager will recommend
- Depending on the size of your operation,
you may need additional equipment.
- Keep a supply
of spare parts for in-house equipment, so that problems
can be solved quickly.
- No run off water should be
able to get into the house. Keep drainage around the
houses open and operable.
- All access roads need
to be in good shape with easy access to feed bins and
- Weeds and grass need to be mowed
around the house and farm to reduce rodent and other
- Understand environmental challenges created
by poultry operations such as dust, smell, nutrient
- No chemicals, pesticides, herbicides,
insecticides or medications should be used in or around
poultry houses without approval by company.
The suggestions listed above may not fit
all situations and company programs. Work closely
with your field representatives to conform to
company policy and assure success in your operation.
- It is recommended that you work in a poultry operation
before getting into the business.
- Understand that this is a long term decision.
- This list may not necessarily reflect what will
happen on every farm.