Free-Range system is best adapted to small-scale farmers who raise chickens for household and commercial consumption. This low-cost free-range system increases the commercial value of poultry products.
Chicken Breeds Suitable for a Free-Range System.
* Local chickens or crossbreds of Rhode Island x local chickens.
* Chinese chickens such as Tam Hoang or Luong Phuong
* The Israeli Kabir chicken
Construction of the Chicken House
A chicken house is needed, surrounded by a fence.
Local materials such as bamboo or palm leaves can be used for construction. Purchased materials such as bricks, tiles for the roof, and cement for a concrete floor can also be used.
If bamboo is used for the floor, the floor should be 40-50 cm above the ground.
Nestboxes for laying hens should be installed inside the chicken house.
The chicken house should face southeast. It should thus be built on the northwest corner of the backyard.
(1) for Chicks 1-4 Weeks Old
Use a feeding cage 1m wide, 2m in length and 0.4m high.
The feeding plot is enclosed with a bamboo lattice (0.8m H). The size of the plotdepends on the weather and the age of the chicks. The floor should be covered to a depth of 7-10 cm with rice husk or clean wood shavings. Sawdust is not recommended. These litter materials should be sterilized in 2% Formol.
Heating and lighting:
The optimum temperature depends on the age of the chicks;
1st week chicks: 31-34oC, 2nd week: 29-31oC, 3rd week: 26-29oC, 4th week: 22-26oC.
Heat source: electric lamp, coal stove or heater.
For the first 2-3 weeks, chicks should be lit throughout the day.
The following feed should be given several times a day.
One-day chicks: Broken rice, finely ground corn.
From the 2nd day: Ready-made feed for chicks, or a mixture of concentrated feed with added ingredients (19-20 % crude protein, 2,800-2,900 KCal).
Drinking water: After the chicks are brought to their new home, they should be allowed to rest for 10-15 minutes. Then they should be given drinking water containing 50g sugar/dL and 1g Vitamin-C/dL. The drinking water should be clean and warm (16-20oC).
(2) for Chicks Older Than 4 Weeks
Beside free ranging to feed, chickens should be supplied with feed (corn, rice, cassava, compound feed etc) twice a day. For the 10-15 days before they are marketed, they should be allowed to eat as much broken rice and yellow corn as they want.
(3) Feeding rate (g/head/day)
1-6 weeks : No limitation
7-10 weeks : 45-55 day g/head/day
11-16 weeks : 55-65 g/head/day
17-20 weeks : 70-80 g/head/day
For laying hens
1-6 weeks : No limitation
7 weeks and over : 115-125 g/head/day
Laying hens should not be given too much feed, or laying will be delayed. The content of crude protein should be 16-18%. ME level: 2,750 KCal. Minerals should be added in the form of bone meal, stone meal or oyster shell.
(4) Vaccination schedule
The vaccination schedule for free-range chickens is shown in Table 1.
Source: Department of Agriculture and Forestry Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam. agnet.org Photo: liddesdaleselection.co.uk
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