Notes to broadcasters
Wang’s success with laying hens
Wang does everything possible on his farm to reduce the cost of production. He raises only hybrid laying hens. He has included many innovations in his poultry operations such as homemade heating ducts below the floor of his brooder house, homemade bamboo poultry equipment, and low-cost poultry disease and parasite control. He provides his hens with extra hours of light to increase egg production, and uses watch dogs to deter thieves.
HOST: After only four years of establishing his own family farm, Wang Wun Shi has become a model farmer in the central part of Sichuan province in the People’s Republic of China. When he started out, he and his family had no money, but they did have plenty of ambition and a willingness to work hard.
Let me tell you about some special features of the poultry operations that Wang has gradually built up with a lot of careful planning and hard work.
Hybrid baby chicks and laying hens
To begin with, Wang has found that, for producing eggs, he makes the highest net profit by growing his laying hens from baby chicks of the best hybrid stock he can buy. Over the past four years, he has bought baby chicks that produce very large eggs when they are full grown, and are big enough to provide lots of meat. He likes this because every year he sells off his old hens for meat and replaces them with new stock that he raises from chicks that he buys.
Incidentally, when Wang is ready to sell his old birds for meat, he does not take them to market. Buyers come right to his farm and he sells the birds to whoever offers him the most money.
Wang’s brooder house
Earlier, I said that Wang buys baby chicks each year. Of course, baby chicks cannot stand cool temperatures, so Wang has to provide some heat in his brooder house to bring the temperature up to about 35 degrees centigrade (90 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first week, 27 degrees centigrade (80 degrees Fahrenheit) for the second, and 21 degrees centigrade (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for the third week. To do this, he has built two stove-like fireplaces just below the ground level under the end wall of the building he uses for his brooder house. This brooder house is 7 metres (22 feet) wide and 8 metres (about 26 feet) long and has a low ceiling. Tall chimneys for the smoke from the two stove-like fireplaces are located outside the wall at the opposite end of the building from where the fireplaces are built. Coal is cheap in China so that is what Wang burns. To reach the chimneys, the hot smoke passes through large pipes or ducts, the full length of the building, and into the chimneys. The reason that the fireplaces are built below ground level is so these smoke ducts can be located just under the cement floor. Normally, of course, you might expect to connect one of these fireplaces to its chimney at the far end of the building, using a single smoke duct. In Wang’s brooder house, however, he has connected not one but two parallel ducts to each fireplace. This way, half of the smoke goes through each duct, but before they reach the chimney, they come together to form one duct again that takes smoke from them both into the chimney. The two fireplaces, their parallel smoke ducts, and the tall chimneys are located in such a way so that the warm smoke being drawn through the ducts just below the floor provides dry, even heat throughout the building. With this effective home-made heating system, the temperature in the brooder house can be regulated exactly right for the chicks.
Homemade bamboo poultry equipment
Wang Wun Shi has other innovative homemade poultry equipment that cost him little or no money. For instance, his watering troughs for both baby chicks and adult hens are made out of bamboo. He has also built other poultry equipment. This includes brooder pens raised 30 centimetres (1 foot) or more above the floor for starting his baby chicks in the brooder house. He has also built similar pens for his pullets, but they have slatted floors. These and the cages for his laying hens are set on legs at least 40 centimetres (16 inches) above the floor. The slatted floors allow the chicken droppings to fall through to the cement floor so they can be scraped out from under the pens and used for fertilizer, either directly, or mixed in with compost or night soil.
Along the front of each of Wang’s homemade chicken cages, there are the bamboo troughs, one for feed, one for water, and a third for the hens’ eggs to roll out into for quick and easy collecting.
With equipment like this, Wang is able to greatly reduce the amount of labour required to look after his poultry. In all, Wang keeps 5,000 laying hens and sells the eggs three ways: in the local market, to people who buy their needs right from his farm, and to large egg-buyers who also come to his farm.
Poultry disease and parasite precautions
When farmers keep many chickens, there is more risk of loss due to poultry diseases. Let me tell you about two or three no-cost or low-cost precautions that Wang takes to prevent such losses. To begin with, he does not allow visitors to his farm to walk into his poultry buildings. That is one simple precaution that costs him nothing. Also, Wang has a shallow rectangular pit in the ground just outside the doorway into each poultry house. The pit is 5 centimetres (2 inches) deep. It is filled with lime that anyone going into the building has to step into it before entering. The lime is intended to kill any poultry disease germs that may be on a person’s feet. As birds can also carry disease germs into a chicken house, Wang makes sure that birds cannot get in. He keeps the door closed and covers any other spaces with chicken wire.
Coccidiosis is a very troublesome disease of poultry, especially of baby chicks and young birds. Wang has a low-cost method of protecting his poultry from this disease. He mixes garlic with the water he gives to his chickens. He grinds up garlic cloves with his little hand grinder; or he could use a knife to chop them up into very small juicy pieces. He mixes 1 to 1.5 kilograms (2 to 3 pounds) of it with 50 litres (10 gallons) of water and that is the water he gives his chickens to drink. Wang has also found that 1/4 of a kilogram (1/2 pound) of garlic, well-mixed with 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of prepared chicken feed, is effective against worms in his poultry flock.
Higher egg production and no egg pilfering
There’s something else about Wang Wun Shi’s poultry enterprise that may interest you. He is fortunate enough to have electricity on his farm. He uses this electric power to help him to get the highest possible egg production from his flock. He does it with electric lights in the laying house. Hens that have 17 hours of light each day will lay the most eggs in the shortest time, so Wang has the lights on from 5 a.m. until daylight. He then turns them on again late in the day before the sun goes down and leaves them on until 10 p.m. As you might expect, a problem arises whenever the power supply fails. He solved it a couple of years ago when he was able to buy a diesel-powered generator at a reasonable price.
Finally, like many other farmers who keep a lot of chickens, Wang has to think about chicken thieves. His answer to this problem is simply to have a good watchdog tied up outside the door into each chicken house. That solved the problem.
The next time I visit with you, I will finish the farming success story of the Wang Wun Shi family farm. I think you will be interested to hear about the innovative ways Wang has devised to efficiently use all the space he possibly can. He even uses space over his paths, walkways, and driveway for producing food crops to feed his family and to sell.
1. This item is part 2 of a 3-part farmer success story in this package. Each part contains information on different farming methods that may be useful to the farmers you serve. When using these items in a series, please use them in the proper sequence.
2. A reference is made to a topic more fully covered in another DCFRN item. Information on it could be presented with this series.
Farming Hints – Bamboo Chicken Troughs, Package 6, Item 9/C
Information in this item was obtained from Wang Wun Shi on his family farm in Zu Qiao County, Sichuan Province, in the People’s Republic of China by George Atkins.