Poultry units

Poultry units

Poultry units for egg production and broiler production for small farmers come in many sizes. The price of a chicken house depends on size, quality and the equipment that is used. Poultry production units made from steel are manufactured in South Africa and usually installed on site. While many farmers, or prospective farmers look for cheap chicken houses – they are not always the best buy. Things to consider when buying a chicken coop are:

  1. thickness of steel sheeting used on the roof and sides
  2. thickness and dimensions of the angle iron used in the frame
  3. suitable anchors and tie downs (especially in a very windy area)
  4. the quality of each weld in the frame
  5. the quality of the concrete slab
  6. the quality of the curtains material – UV resistant?
  7. the type of winching system
  8. automatic drinking or manual drinking
  9. the quality of the cages in a layer house
  10. the direction the chicken house faces – did the manufacturer help you with a layout plan?
  11. back up service and spares for your poultry equipment
  12. training and quality poultry information
  13. inoculations and medication – are your chickens ready for placement
  14. heaters – gas or radiant heater – do you have electricity n your area
  15. fans – were you offered poultry fans and are they good quality

In remote areas, when erecting a poultry house you will need running water (which means a borehole and a large tank) and electricity (which means Eskom connections or a suitable generator). Emerging farmers can look forward to increased government loans for small farmers- although you will need to be very aware of what you need to start a chicken farm – the level of expertise at the department of agriculture is low – and they will not notice if you do not include key items of equipment – they will not be able to judge if your plan is actually good or bad – that is up to you – and you better get it right as once you have applied for, and been granted your loan or government grant there is no going back for more without a whole new plan and application. Most new farmers are likely to miss something – so whoever you buy from had netter know their oats – they will immediately notice what you may have forgotten. The best option is to find a poultry consultant before you put in for the grant or loan – usually the poultry company will be happy to go over your business plan with you and give you advice – and they should do this for free. They will advise on the bets structure for where your farm will be – and will advise on any extra items you may need like fans and heaters. It is also a good idea to have photos of the where you plan to erect the steel structure – this will enable the manufacturer to see if the land needs a grader to level the site before throwing the slab – this is often forgotten – and can be a major cost.

Training in poultry management and production

Video of Cheap chicken houses and poultry units come in various sizes and configurations – are you going to be doing layers for egg prodction – or broilers for meat production? The structures are different. Cheap chicken houses for emerging farmers may be the rage – but if you are a new farmer you may want to consider a well made, properly equipped chicken house – you need all the advantage you can get – and cheap often puts you in a position to fail before you even get going. Small farmers are well advised to take a poultry course or at least do some kind of training before launching their operation. There are several training facilities around South Africa – Pietermaritzburg has the Poultry Institute which offers a one week poultry course – it is detailed and intense – you can stay at the farm and it is well worth the cost of the training programme. You will learn how to place day old chicks – in a real chicken house with live birds. You will learn about poultry disease, and even get to cut a chicken open and see what to look for in a sick chicken. Every morning you will feed chickens and not only broilers but layers as well. They do not do any free range or organic chicken farming – it is all about factory farming and commercial poultry production. The layer house has battery cages and the broiler houses have birds at various ages. You will be expected to do manual labour as well as attend lectures in the afternoon - it is a real hands on course, so if you do not want to get your hands dirty – then it is not for you – and in fact, neither is chicken farming.

Poultry Heaters

Poultry Heaters for chicken houses – gas heaters run on LPG gas. Gasolec heaters are the best poultry heaters on the market in South Africa. Heaters for chickens are made by several companies, and when heating a chicken house you can also use electricity or coal – coal fired poultry heaters still need electricity to distribute the heat in the chicken house. Electric heaters are usually infrared heaters and use bulbs to do the heating. While these are effective and useful, they do not come close to the amount of radiant heat put out by a gas heater – in fact many farmers will only use gas – especially in winter in South Africa.

Heaters for chicken houses

The M8 series Gasolec poultry gas heater

When you start chicken farming you will need to decide what kind of chicken heater you will use – with the cost of electricity in S.A and the load shedding gas is simply the most reliable and cheapest way to warm your chickens. Poultry heaters come in many configurations and sizes. The most important things to look for are how much heat they put out compared to how much gas they use. Many of the cheaper heaters use a lot of gas for not much result.The two types of heaters sold in South Africa under the Gasolec brand offer great heat and optimum gas usage. The G12 – the larger of the two, offers a heat range of 12 metres, and the capacity is 12.2 kW/hour, 42000 BTU per hour. It uses propane, butane, natural gas or LPG.It can be hung 1.4 metres to 1.75 meters above the chicks – these are great specs. The M8 – the smaller unit for warming about 12oo chicks operates at 5 kW/h, 17300 BTU/hour. It also uses the same kinds of gas and has a heat range of 6 meters. It can be hung 0.9 meter to 1.5 meters above the birds. They both offer great energy efficiencies, and are very reliable. Like all heaters there is some maintenance – you will need to keep the dust filters unblocked, and clean out the jets periodically. Take them out of the house when they are not needed – and clean them well before storing carefully.


Gas heater for poultry in South Africa

The best heater for large chicken houses – warm up to 3000 chickens with this energy efficiant gas heater. Suspended from the roof of the poultry house it will easily warm 300 chickens

Both gas heaters are made from stainless steel – and can take a good cleaning easily. The only delicate part is the thermocouple – and this is easily avoided in the cleaning process. Both these products are fully supported in South Africa – spares are easily available – the dust filters on the large G12 Gasolec brooder uses a fabric filter (which can be washed) but will need replacing at some stage. The filter on the M8 is made from stainless steel – so it will last forever. While some farmers choose the cheaper options, the gas costs soon catch up to them. Other farmers simply buy heaters from the big stores that are meant for warming living areas – this is also not a good idea – the height cannot be changed, and they are not designed to burn 24/7. Radiant heaters in the form of electric heaters like infrared heaters work well – but are expensive to run. They also have limited output and have to be very low so they do not cover many birds. If you have a farm in a warm place these will probably suffice, but if you have cold winters then gas or coal fired heaters are really your only option.

Why are my Chickens dying?

There are several reasons why your chicken will start dying. Many small chicken farmers have high mortality rates in their chicken houses – which is a fancy way of saying “lots of dead chicks or chickens” in a cycle. The most common reasons are: 1. chicken house too hot, 2. Too cold, 3. Not enough water, 4. Too humid, 5. Disease. All of these reasons are avoidable and all of these are caused by poor poultry management. That is good news because it means that you can fix your dying chicken problem with the right care, procedures and poultry equipment.

baby chick picture

Young chicks need higher temperatures

A well managed chicken house will rarely suffer from any of the above reasons – and if they do, a poultry manager will pick the problem up long before the chickens start dying. Every chicken house should have at least 2 min max thermometers, and a wet dry thermometer to measure humidity. The person who is looking after the chickens should be in the house at least 3 times a day. He should use all 5 senses to monitor the house. He will see a problem if he is looking. He will smell a problem if he is aware. He should picking up random birds, and feeling for lumps and bumps, and looking at the chickens feet, eyes and body. If you walk into a chicken house you will quickly hear a happy flock, or if there is something amiss – the birds will tell you. Tasting the water your chickens are drinking will let you know soon enough if something is wrong – chickens are like humans – the taste and temperature of the water is important to them.

Disease is more difficult to control, but some basic procedures will stop most disease. Shower in and shower out – or at least have a foot bath at the entrance to your house. Make sure your litter is dry – leaking bell drinkers or nipples will cause no end of problems (if you smell a strong ammonia smell – your litter is too wet – look at your chickens feet and you will see problems) Wash all equipment, in fact anything that goes in and out of the house – every single time. Clear your house twice a day of dead birds – don’t allow the other birds to be exposed to sick or dead birds. Separate the chickens that are sick and monitor them – needs be – get a vet to have a look. Disease will spread like wild fire – I have seen a whole house die within 24 hours.

Maintain the temperature that is correct for the age of the bird. Remember young chicks need to be at least 10 degrees warmer than grown chickens. Use you curtains, fans and heaters to maintain the correct temperature.

Water is vital – make sure there is a constant supply of clean, fresh water. If your chickens start panting, or stop eating then water is the most likely cause. A chicken house that is too hot or humid will also cause your chickens to pant.

chicken house south africa

Best Chicken house in Africa

Looking after poultry is not rocket science – causes for your poultry dying, and chickens dying in your chicken houses usually has a simple, obvious reason. Common sense should prevail when you ask – why are my chickens dying? Using the right poultry equipment will help to make your life easier.