Integrated chicken-fish farming
Chicken raising for meat (broilers) or eggs (layers) can be integrated with fish culture to reduce costs on fertilizers and feeds in fish culture and maximize benefits. Chicken can be raised over or adjacent to the ponds and the poultry excreta recycled to fertilize the fishponds. Raising chickens over the pond has certain advantages: it maximizes the use of space; saves labour in transporting manure to the ponds and the poultry house is more hygienic. No significant differences have been observed on the chickens' growth or egg laying when they are raised over the ponds or on land. In case of the former, the pond embankment could still be utilized for raising vegetables.
1. Pond preparation
- For an example pond of 1 000 m², remove predatory and weed fish either by draining the pond or by applying an approved piscicide.
- Apply 25 kg lime to pond bottom if the pond is dry, or dissolve lime in water and spray solution if pond has water.
- Stock 600-1 000 fingerlings of Indian carps, catla (Catla catla), rohu (Labeo rohita), mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala) and Chinese carps, silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Species stocking rate could be 40 percent surface feeders (catla and silver carp), 20 percent rohu, 30 percent bottom feeders (mrigal and common carp) and 10 percent grass carp.
- No feeds need to be given, as the feed spilled by chicken (which could be as much as 10 percent) fall into ponds.
- No fertilizer is needed, except for excreta of chicken falling into ponds.
- Harvesting of fish could start 6-7 months after stocking when some fish reach table size.
6. Oxygen depletion
- When water becomes deep green due to plankton blooms, oxygen in the water may get depleted and fish may die. In such cases, put mats or plastic sheets below the poultry house to catch the chicken excreta and suspend nutrient inputs for 1 to 3 weeks. If possible, immediately irrigate the pond with freshwater.
For the first 14 days, chicks need to be raised separately in a brooder (not on pond), as they need higher temperature of 28-33 ºC (85-95 ºF). Each chick during this period needs a space of 7.5 x 7.5 cm (9 in²). To maintain the required temperature range, surround the chicks in a bamboo fence and hang an electric or kerosene lamp above them. A rice husk heater can also be used.
1. Broilers: 30-50 broilers could be raised on a 1 000 m² pond.
- The chicken house can be constructed over the pond at least 0.5 m above maximum pond water level, or on the embankment. Each bird requires 1.5 ft² space (50 birds require 75 ft² space). The house can be made of bamboo or any other locally available cheap materials. Roof can be covered with hay or similar material. Enough cross ventilation should be maintained to keep cool during hot days. Floors are to be constructed with bamboo slats, with 1 cm gap, to allow excreta to fall into pond, but not wide enough for the chicken's feet to get caught in between and injured.
- Any fast-growing chicken, like Shavar Starbro broilers, can be raised.
- Feed with starter mash for 1-4 weeks and with finisher mash for 5-8 weeks, given as much as they can consume. A 100-kg starter mash requires 50 kg crushed wheat, 14.5 kg rice bran, 16 kg sesame oil cake, 19 kg fishmeal and 0.5 kg salt. A 100 kg finisher mash requires 50 kg crushed wheat, 17 kg rice bran, 15 kg sesame oil cake, 16 kg fish meal, 1.5 kg bone meal and 0.5 kg salt. In both cases, vitamin premix is added at the rate of 250 g/100 kg of feed.
- Water should be provided at all times.
2. Chicken layers: 30-50 layers can be raised over a pond of 1 000 m².
- Housing can be constructed on pond or on embankment. Each bird requires 3 ft² floor area.
- Any good strain of chicken, like Star Cross Shavar, could be raised.
- For the first 16 weeks, feed is given at the rate of 80-110 g/bird/day and from 17th week onwards, 110-120 g/bird/day. Feed composition is given in the chart below.
- Temperature in the poultry house should always be above 20-22°C. When the temperature goes below this level, hang two 200-watt bulbs or two kerosene lamps for every 50 chickens. A rice husk heater can also be used.
- Broilers reach market size of 1.5-1.8 kg in 7-8 weeks and it is possible to raise six batches in a year. Layers start laying after 22 weeks and 250-280 eggs/bird/year could be obtained. Egg laying becomes uneconomical after chickens reach the age of 18 months, when they need to be replaced.
- Because chickens are usually kept in confinement, they are susceptible to disease. When disease strikes, the whole flock may be affected: growth will be retarded, egg production will go down or the chickens may die. Thus, broilers will not reach market weight in time. For layers, sexual maturity is delayed. Protective measures are needed.
Feed composition for layers
Vitamins premix at 250 g/100 kg feed.
Vaccinate your chickens
In some countries, vaccines can be obtained from the nearest livestock office, free of cost. The following are some reminders when collecting vaccines:
- Bring a good thermoflask and a little cotton wool.
- Do not waste vaccine. Obtain only the exact amount needed. Vaccine production costs a lot to the government.
- Store vaccines at low temperature, preferably in a refrigerator, to maintain their effectiveness.
Equipment necessary in vaccination
- Thermoflask of sufficient capacity to carry the vaccines.
- Nylon syringe - one or two, graduated at 1 ml intervals. Smaller-capacity syringe is preferable.
- Needles of gauge 20 or 21 and 14 or 15. Shorter needles of 1-2 cm length are preferable for poultry vaccination. A few large sewing needles are suitably modified for fowl pox vaccination.
- Measuring cylinder
- Two wide-mouth bottles: one to carry distilled water and another to dilute vaccines, when necessary. These items preferably should be of nylon or polypropylene which could be sterilized by boiling when necessary.
Reminders when vaccinating chickens
- Sterilize syringes, needles and all other equipment before using.
- Put ice cubes at the bottom of the thermoflask and a layer of cotton wool before placing the vaccine vial. Close the flask.
- Check vaccine if it looks all right. Do not use discolored or unusual-looking vaccines.
- Use distilled water purchased from a pharmacy when diluting vaccines, or boil clean water for 10-15 minutes. Cool down, then strain into a clean bottle.
- When only a small amount of distilled water has to be added, draw the required amount into the sterile syringe and inject into the vial. Dissolve by vigorously shaking the vial.
- Pour the balanced amount of distilled water into the mixing bottle. Draw the dissolved vaccine into the syringe. Pour into the mixing bottle containing the balanced quantity of distilled water. Thoroughly mix with a sterilized rod.
- In case of fowl pox, remove the required amount into a sterilized empty vial and use for vaccination. This prevents contamination and subsequent waste of surplus vaccine.
- Do not spill vaccines. This could be fatal to chickens.
- Hold the needle with the knob. Do not touch the tip when assembling the syringe for vaccination. Contaminated needles should not be used until sterilized.
- Before vaccination, confine the birds, picking up one by one and releasing after vaccination. This makes vaccination easy and no bird is missed.
- Do not vaccinate birds suffering from disease or in a state of stress. Vaccinate them only when they are back to normal.
- Two vaccines should not be given the same day. A 10-day gap is needed between two successive vaccinations.
- Record data so that the next vaccination will be known.
- If leftover diluted vaccine can be used within a short period, it should be put in a clean polythene bag and placed in the flask containing ice.
- Wash all equipment used with soap and clean water, then sterilize in boiling water.
- Thoroughly clean empty vaccine vials. Return them to the Livestock Officer when collecting the next requirement of vaccines.
- Vaccinate birds on time.
Budget (in taka ) for a 1 000 m² pond in integrated
chicken-fish farming with 50 broilers
Budget (in taka) for a 1 000 m² pond in integrated
chicken-fish farming with 50 layers over an 18-month period
Issues for further consideration
The case presented is a resource-intensive experimental system. Most farmers may find it difficult to sustain the 30-50 birds that are recommended. This activity may be adopted by somewhat «better off» farmers with an entrepreneurial focus. Identifying who adopted this in existing communities and who could be potential adopters in other communities could be done through ranking exercises.
Although the importance of chicken diseases is emphasized in the example, most resource-poor farmers are at least equally constrained by the lack of, or poor quality of existing, chicken feed. In implementing the technology, more information will be required on what proportion of the feed can be produced by the farm household, or is produced and purchased locally, or needs to be supplied from outside the village (e.g. fishmeal, bonemeal, salt, vitamins). Also, information on who carries out the activities and who benefits within the household will be useful for planning.
From experience with this technology in field trials, the poultry component was the problematic part. It required a higher level of investment and managerial skill. Uneconomical scales of chicken farming operations limited acceptance by farmers and caused the few adopters to terminate the activities.
Limited levels of integration can be achieved with backyard chicken rearing. Farmers usually rear few birds (usually only 5-10) and let them roam freely, avoiding the need for purchasing feed.
Any development of a new vaccination program in a particular area would need to take the experience of farmers and the local livestock office on the most important diseases in the region into account. In addition to the preventive vaccination the need for curative treatment, e.g. of parasitic diseases may arise.
The procedure for vaccination (amount, mode of application etc.) may vary between different brands, and in this respect the guidelines given by the vaccine producer should allways be followed. Tap water containing chlorine can inactivate the live vaccines (but boiling it for 15 minutes will remove most of the chlorine). In addition to being stored cool, the vaccines should also be kept away from direct sunlight. Soap must be completely rinsed off the equipment as it might inactivate the live vaccines. Also, in many countries the legislation prohibits others than veterinarians to use injectable vaccines.
Regarding the chicken house, the 1 cm gap in between the slats of the floor is likely to be too big for 14 days old chicks so they may hurt themselves. The solution could either be to reduce the spacing or to keep the chicks for a longer time in the brooder.