How To Start a Chicken Farming Business

There are a few considerations that you need to think about before you get started though. 

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Jan 21, 2021

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Chicken is one of the most popular animal agriculture products in the world. Its meat and eggs are found in nearly every cuisine in every country. And chicken products are found in many other things, like domestic pet food, as well.

Despite the meat’s popularity, starting a chicken farm is nothing to cluck at. These farms take a lot of hard work and ingenuity to operate successfully.  Here’s what you need to know to start a successful chicken farming business.

Step #1: Get Experience

Have you ever worked with chickens before? If the answer is no, then you need to get some hands-on training before starting your own operation. These animals are unique and take a special touch to manage well, so working on a farm or serving as an apprentice before you start your farm will pay off.

You’ll learn the basics of care and handling the birds when working on a chicken farm. You’ll also learn about diseases or illnesses they’re prone to and how to address those concerns. You should also get a little business training on how to market and sell your meat and eggs for a competitive price.

Chicken farming is a challenge, and apprenticing on an existing operation will provide helpful insights and help you determine if chicken farming is right for you.

Step #2: Learn About Housing

One of the things you’ll learn about chicken farming when you apprentice is that there are many ways to run a chicken farm. For example, the type of chicken coop dictates the styles of chicken farming or housing farmers use to keep their birds. Here are a few of the most popular types of chicken farming:

  • Free-range systems: This is the oldest type of chicken farming. In a free-range system, the poultry roams the farm as they please. Free-range systems work well because they can be used with mobile range coops and use less feed to keep the chickens healthy. Instead, the birds eat what they find around the farm, like insects and small plants.
  • Semi-intensive poultry house system: This is a variation of a free-range system because it includes coop housing with an outdoor run where the poultry can come and go as they please. The outdoor runs are fenced in a fixed spot, so there’s a limit to how far the chickens can stray from their coop.
  • Folding units poultry house system: This is a smaller, portable version of the semi-intensive poultry house. It works well because you can routinely move the poultry housing to give the chickens access to fresh greenery and insects and effectively fertilize the soil with droppings.
  • Intensive poultry house system: This is the commercial method of producing chickens and eggs on a large scale. All major chicken and egg producers get their products with this type of housing.

Step #3: Pick the Breed and Feed

Knowing how you want to house your animals is one thing, but picking which types of chicken and feed you need is another entirely! If you wish to raise egg-producing chickens, also called layers, here are a few of the best breeds for laying eggs:

  • Leghorn
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Australorp
  • Red Star
  • Orpington
  • Spanish (White-Faced Black Spanish)
  • Sussex

But you might be more interested in raising your bird for meat. If that’s the case, stick to these breeds for the best results:

  • Cornish Cross
  • Big Red Broilers
  • Bresse
  • Turken
  • Kosher King
  • Ginger Broiler
  • Jersey Giant
  • Orpington 

Most commercially raised chickens destined for meat production subsist on high-protein feed to maximize their potential as a meat product. You can feed layers a variety of grains, including soybeans, cooked beans, and even some leafy greens and fruit.

Step #4: Make a Plan

Familiarizing yourself with the many housing types, breeds, and feed is critical to planning your farm. Chicken farms are big businesses, and just like any other business, you need a business plan to operate a successful poultry farm.

Decide what type of housing you want for your chickens, how many chickens you wish to house if you wish to focus on chicken meat or egg production, and where you hope to sell your product. Your business plan should include market research, financial projections, a marketing strategy, and more

And this plan isn’t just for you; it’s also something that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will need and financial institutions, should you need capital investment.

Step #5: Connect With the USDA

The USDA provides invaluable resources to all types of farmers, including chicken farmers. They can help you with your business plan, assist you in creating a conservation plan, help you find financing options, connect you with mentors, and even assist with training.

Another service provided by the USDA is market analysis. Their research shows that  U.S. poultry production has expanded since 2012. Since then, the industry has produced 21% more broiler chickens and 17% more eggs. This demonstrates significant growth in the poultry sector and shows that it’s ripe for new investment.

If you want to take advantage of all the USDA offers, start by getting a farm number on the USDA’s website. Then, contact your local farming coordinator to schedule an appointment to learn how USDA can help your chicken farm get off the ground.

Chicken production is up, and there are no signs of it slowing down anytime soon. So ride this wave of demand by starting your own chicken farm today!

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