How to Open a Chicken Farm — Ultimate guide
How to Start Chicken Farm
As anyone who has ever started an animal farm knows, there are some tried and true methods that you will need, especially when it comes to having your very own chicken farm. Be prepared, be patient, but more importantly, be informed as to what you are about to embark upon. Below, you will find a collection of helpful hints to get you well on your way to operating a successful chicken farm!
Do Your Research
Ask yourself this: do you know what qualifies as a farm? If the answer is no, you’ll want to read on. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Glossary defines a farm as a place from which “$1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” While the USDA understands that not all farms — especially the small ones — will sell $1,000 or more each year, they are estimating that this will be a yearly average. The USDA website is a great resource for you if you need more information on definitions, classifications, and other important terminology.
Get Acquainted with the Business Aspect
Without a doubt, chicken farming is a business. You might know a lot about agriculture and farming, but if you are not well versed in the business aspect, then you will not attain the success you’re looking for.
Like any good business, you’ll need to begin with a business plan in place. A substantial business plan will include the following:
- Budgetary and other financial information
- Analysis of the chicken farming business
- Potential risks
- An examination of your competition
- Plans for marketing
- Specific operating procedures
A simple Internet search will point you in the right direction if you’d like to craft your business plan yourself. You can think of the business plan as a road map, helping to keep you accountable and not stray from your financial goals throughout this endeavor. While many state that the first year is the most difficult due to the opening costs, you will find it much easier to continue operations if you have a stable plan in place.
After you craft your business plan and look at your finances, you will have to decide whether or not you will need to secure a loan. There are plenty of options available to you should you require a loan specifically to begin a farm, and your bank will be able to point you in the right direction to get the process moving.
Decide Your Niche
Now that you have researched the business and the financial side, it’s time to make a fun decision: what kind of poultry farming would you like to engage in? Do you want to raise chickens for meat production and sale, or would you like to like to focus on raising chickens to sell eggs? Perhaps you would like to focus on both.
Both the farming for meat and the farming for eggs sectors bring quality requirements associated with their products. This is especially important to keep in mind when you’re determining your customer base. Are you going to sell directly to individuals, or are you going to sell to markets and stores? Under the guidelines set forth by the USDA, your farm will have to comply with safety and production standards, so be prepared for inspections to take place on your facility.
No matter what you decide, there are some specific material and equipment needs that you will have to fulfill
Assess your Location
A backyard farm brings with it a host of logistics and policies, so it is not recommended that you start a backyard poultry business. You will be limited by not only space but scale of production and rules governing what you can do in your backyard. For this reason, an appropriately sized parcel of land is necessary to accommodate the number of chickens you’ll want to house.
In addition, taking into account where you build your farm is crucial to your sales and success. It is not common to find poultry farms in a city or an urban environment; therefore, you will want to find land outside of a populated city. You will also avoid complaints from individuals who are living in close proximity to you, either from the noise, the smell, or both.
Plotting your farm in an area that is close to a city environment but not within the city limits will be the most helpful to you. You can take advantage of the open space, but you will also be close enough to a densely populated area that you can sell and market your products with ease. An area that is too secluded might be pretty and scenic, but it will make your location difficult to find and will present obstacles in transportation of your goods.
Build your Team
Depending on the size of your farm and the scale of your production, it is necessary to determine if you will be able to operate as a family farm or if you will need to hire some employees.
Typically, poultry farms with around 500 chickens or less will not require a large staff. You will be able to operate comfortably by yourself or with the help of your immediate family members. If you wish to expand and have more than 500 chickens, then it is recommended that you look into hiring employees. Remember that if you do decide to take on employees, you’re going to have to take into account any wages you pay them, which will inevitably cut into the profit you’re going to make.
Take Stock of your Material Needs
Material needs include the type of chickens as well as the specific equipment necessary for operation. There are two kinds of chickens: layers and broilers. Layers, as their name suggests, refer to the hens that are raised in order to lay eggs. Broilers, on the other hand, are the chickens that are raised for consumption of their meat.
Contrary to popular belief, if you have layers for egg laying and sale, then you do not need a rooster. Otherwise, your eggs will eventually hatch chicks! Roosters are, however, necessary for fertilizing eggs to then have chicks, so the nature of your business will help you to determine what kinds of chickens to get. A good hen will yield around five to six eggs per week.
Next, you will have to give them a proper habitat. It is never advised that you cramp chickens while they are on your property. Therefore, a sizable chicken coop is recommended for housing your chickens. As a rule of thumb, chicken coops should allow for 2 to 3 square feet per chicken, so build or buy them accordingly. Chickens will also need space to run freely — about 10 square feet per chicken — and therefore the size of your plot will have to allow for this
Other materials you will need throughout this process include food for your chickens; chicken feeders; proper lighting for the interior of the chicken coop; nests and perches; a system to dispose of waste; and heating equipment to keep the coops warm.
As with any business, the start-up costs will have to be taken into consideration.
It’s a well known adage that word-of-mouth marketing is the best you can get, but in this constantly evolving technological world, you are going to need a bit more than just the verbal recommendations of customers.
By the time you reach this step, you will have more than likely developed some type of a marketing strategy in your business plan, and now it’s time to follow through. Considering building a website for your company using the many website-building tools available to you on the Internet. Many platforms offer templates that you can simply fill in, and some of them are either free or offered for a low cost to maintain.
Social media is the new word-of-mouth. While we are not suggesting you Instagram the ins and outs of your farm, you will no doubt expand your reach if you take advantage of the sites that allow for business profiles, such as Facebook. Sites such as Constant Contact will allow you to easily send out regular mailers and newsletters, as well. Using the analytical tools available to you, you can track the amount of people you are reaching and engaging.
Lastly, branding is important. Should you decide on a logo, make sure your logo and those corresponding colors appear on all of your social media pages. You will want your prospective and current customers to be able to identify you quickly, which is why standardization is so important.
Once you get up and running, don’t be shocked if your daily sales ebb and flow. What matters are the average sales within a given year, which will be a much more reliable number for you to focus on. The benefit is well worth the cost, and don’t forget to enjoy the process!