Poultry refers to group of birds reared for food and other purposes. These include domestic fowl, turkey, goose, guinea fowl and duck. These birds are reared mainly for meat, egg and manure. They are non-ruminants.

Terms used in Poultry

Cock Male fowl above one year of age
Cockerel Male fowl below one year of age
Hen Female fowl above one year of age
Pullet Female fowl below one year of age
Chick A young fowl (0 – 6 weeks old)
Capon A castrated male fowl
Carponization Process of castration in fowl
Treading Act of mating in fowl
Grower Fowl between 7 – 19 weeks of age
Layer Female fowl over 20 weeks of age that can lay eggs
Broiler Fowl reared for mean
Clutch A group of young chicks
Flock A group of fowls
Chicken Meat of fowl


Breeds of Domestic Fowl

The various species of fowls may have had a common ancestor, the primitive fowl called Gallus. The various breeds of fowls can be classified into three main groups:
(a) Egg producers e.g. white leghorn, brown leghorn.
(b) The meat producers (broilers), e.g. Sussex, Cornish, and Cochin.
(c) The dual purpose ones (i.e. both meat and egg producers), e.g., Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock, and New Hampshire.

Summary of Breed of Fowl

(i) White leghorn – best egg producer
(ii) Brown leghorn – egg producer
(iii) Barred Plymouth rock – egg and meat producer
(iv) A straw – egg and meat producer
(v) Rhode Island Red – egg and meat producer
(vi) Plymouth rock – egg and meat producer
(vii) New Hampshire – egg and meat producer
(viii) Sussex – good meat producer
(ix) Cornish – good meat producer
(x) Cochin – good meat producer


Equipment Main use
Folus For housing poultry birds
Battery cage Housing of mainly layers
Debeakers Reducing beak lengths
Incubator Hatching fertile eggs
Andler Detecting unfertile eggs
Buckets Fetching water
Feeders/hoppers Feeding birds
Drinkers Provision of water
Hypodermic syringe/needle Injecting birds
Nesting box For egg laying
Creep feed coop and run Housing a brooding hen
Brooder chicks Provision of warmth for
Mash box feeding young chicken
Egg trays/crates/storing eggs Collection of eggs
Roost/perch For resting and sleeping upon by birds
Broom To sweep off waste
Shovel To remove poultry waste
Wheel barrow Carrying feed or waste

System of Poultry Management:

The system of management defines the extent to which birds are exposed to sunshine, pasture and also housing pattern. There are three systems of poultry management. These are extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems.

Extensive System:

Under this system, the domestic fowls are allowed to roam about in search of food and water. There are no proper housing, care and feeding for these birds. Unlimited grassland is available to the birds. The capital investment is small and the bird’s population per hectare of land minimal and production is usually very low. The use of technology is also limited. Example of the extensive system of rearing poultry is the Free range system.

Free Range System:

Under the free range system, birds are allowed free access to a range of grassland. The birds are allowed to run freely over a large fenced area where they experience nearly natural conditions. The birds are confined in a hut or a shed at night and are allowed to roam within the fenced area during the day. During unfavourable weather conditions, the birds find shelter under trees, bushes or hedges within the range while some run to the range shed or hut to take cover.


(i) Initial capital requirement is small
(ii) The labour involved is also very small
(iii) It is most suitable for the management of breeding stock
(iv) It minimizes the incidence of ecto-parasites
(v) Fowls get vitamins and minerals from the grasses they feed on, thereby promoting resistance to disease


(i) There is lack of land because it requires large area and therefore not good for commercial purposes.
(ii) It also requires large labour force to collect eggs
(iii) It exposes the birds to extreme weather conditions
(iv) Economic losses through predators, thieves and laying of eggs in the bush
(v) When badly managed, it may result in the accumulation of germs and parasites.

Semi-intensive System:

The semi-intensive system is mid-way between intensive and extensive system. The birds are housed in a fixed building but are allowed to move about within a fenced area during the day. Their buildings are made up of wood and are raised above the ground with wire netting on the floor to permit easy dropping of faeces. A good example of the, semi-extensive system is the fold unit system.


(i) The birds have access to natural vegetation which provides vitamins and minerals
(ii) There is protection against adverse weather conditions
(iii) Labour is not needed for locking up the birds at night
(iv) The birds are safe from the attack of wild animals
(v) The birds are kept in small groups and culling is made easier
(vi) The outbreak of any infectious disease is easier to isolate and handle.
(vii) The system is useful for all ages and all kinds of birds.


(i) There is a high cost per house when compared with the range system
(ii) It leads to low egg production
(iii) It also leads to high cost of feeding the birds
(iv) Labour requirement is significant with the daily moving of the folds. More labour is required to water and feed small units of poultry.
(v) Vices such as feather picking, egg eating and cannibalism may occur.

Intensive System:

Under this system, the birds are confined within the building and are not allowed to move out. It prevents the birds from having access to pasture and sunshine. There is high stocking density which implies a closer contact among the birds. Feeds, water and all medications are provided for the birds.
Two examples of the intensive system of poultry management are: (i) Deep Litter System (ii) Battery Cage System

Livestock Management.

Definition: A program that focuses on the application of biological and chemical principles to the production and management of livestock animals and the production and handling of meat and other products. Includes instruction in animal sciences, range science, nutrition sciences, food science and technology, biochemistry, and related aspects of human and animal health and safety.


Understanding the complex interactions between livestock and the environment is key in the current global context, although the wide diversity of these interactions in the different production systems needs a local approach. In ruminant production systems, ongoing research is focused on quantification of both negative and positive environmental impacts, developing adaptation and mitigation strategies to reduce the former, through increased efficiency and reduced inputs and emissions, and enhancing the later. In extensive conditions, both aims can be achieved by adapting livestock management to the provision of natural foraging resources throughout the year, yet fulfilling other societal demands like the provision of market-oriented products. In this framework, a series of studies will be presented concerning (1) the response of natural vegetation to extensive livestock grazing in different conditions; how farming systems can adapt to seasonal, spatial and nutritional quality of feed resources; and the effect of grazing on animal performance and product quality.
pastoral systems impacts on vegetation and landscape livestock performance and product quality

Farming has been practiced for thousand of years. Several management systems developed in many societies to better adapt to different needs and conditions.
Are we raising animals the right way?

We hear everyday in the news that there are production problems and that food security is not for everybody. Large, sometimes intangible, external factors such as climate changes, political instability, wars they all play a role, but inexperience and lack of knowledge also affects the work farmers do. How can we limit the damages and increase farming production?

Understanding the different livestock management systems is the first step to develop a good strategy. Management systems have a direct impact on production and diseases, this highlights their relevance.

According to FAO there are three main livestock management systems :

mixed production
intensive farming systems “landless”
extensive production system

Mixed production – it includes both agriculture and livestock and it can be either intensive or extensive. These systems are used for exploitation of both irrigated or non-irrigated land and they are common in some parts of America, Europe and Asia.

Intensive farming – it is mainly used for livestock. Intensive breeding farms look more like factories and they are mainly used to breed pigs, chickens, laying hens, cattle and even fish.These farms “landless” are common in north America, Europe and Asia and in heavy populated areas in general, where the demand for meat and proteins is very high.

Extensive farming – it is used on large non-cultivated land where animals can graze freely. Extensive farming is mainly chosen for cattle, to produce meat and milk, sheep and goats. It is more common in Central and South America (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Peru), some Southern Africa countries (South Africa, Namibia and Botswana), Australia, but even in Europe.

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