Today and in the past number of egg production big and small failed and keep on failing because they could not and did not replace their buying flocks at the correct time.
This if it is today would lead to broken contracts made with customers because today to be in this business of supplying eggs one must have somewhere to deliver this product.
Hence, if the contract is awarded by whoever continuity may not be maintained again because of not being consistence with the supply of this product.
So far such farmers would equally fail to even feed any replacement pullets adequately as the income from egg sales of the near exhausted layers would be too low to maintain the old birds and young layers.
A situation of this nature makes things so difficult to re – gain normal production as well as attracting old customers.
Egg disposal becomes difficult and a farmer has to start looking for new customers and often these can only be got from distant places or outside towns.
This may result or results in extra transport costs and the farmer ends up wasting more time looking for alternative outlets instead of managing the farm.
As the situation worsens such farmers abandon egg production all together. In a situation when egg marketing becomes more competitive i.e. when production (supply) is higher than the demand for eggs (markets become saturated) therefore, the need for planned production will and shall be necessary for any farmer wanting to stay in egg business.
To help a farmer establish continuity of egg supply and to allow for a steady income and put egg production on sound economic footing the farmer may or has to consider the following:
-Pullets start laying at approximately twenty one (21) to twenty two (22) weeks of age. They lay a year at least before their production reaches uneconomic level. It is the time when the income from egg sales will not pay for the food birds are eating, let alone other production costs.
– At this stage, the old (exhausted) layers must be sold and at the same time the new replacement pullets must be at the point of lay twenty two (22) weeks of age, ready to take over from the old layers. This will enable the farmer the necessary continuity of egg supply, which is vital in any successful marketing system of this nature.
– Pullets reach peak production (maximum number of eggs laid per day) at approximately thirty two (32) weeks of age, about ten (10) weeks after point of lay.
The situation mentioned above is where a farmer plans to order point of lay birds.
This situation is very ideal for most farmers because expenses of rearing day old chicks to point of lay is expensive, unless such a farmer has the capacity to rear day old pullet chicks to point of lay at the farm and not for sale at this point but for the purpose of replacing his aging birds.
Farmers purchasing point of lay pullets should ensure that the supplier of point of lay pullet is aware of their replacement program and that such birds will require vaccination at the correct time before being supplied or delivered to the farm.
Take the date of peak production, about thirty two (32) weeks of age and add to it forty five (45) weeks.
This gives the time when production will start to tail off when the new replacement pullet should begin laying i.e. when the old layers are seventy seven (77) weeks of age it is time to be sold. For a starter farmer the numerical example is as follows:
-Point of lay of old layers about twenty two (22) weeks of age.
– Peak production of old layers about thirty two (32) weeks of age.
– Add forty five (45) weeks to peak production. Thirty two (32) weeks plus forty five (45) weeks equals seventy seven (77) weeks. At this age production will start to tail off. The replacement pullets should begin laying now.
It is also worth to note that not all birds start laying at twenty two (22) weeks of age.
This varies between breeds and strains of any one breed, some breeds may mature as early as four and half months whole others may take five (5) or six (6) months, especially heavy breed pullets.
Age at sexual maturity is also influenced by season of hatching and the management.
The date of peak production can also vary depending on the breed or strain.
The date the birds started laying, feeding, incidence of disease and or stress and the management given both during rearing and laying stages may influence production.
However the procedure and figures given above are a good guide line.
In Zambia, egg production usually during the months of April to July is reduced.
The reason behind this is due to the length of day light reduces, unlike during the months of October to January or February.
And also it is the time when the cold season, winter begins starting with the month of May.
It should be known by the farmer who is in this business that layers to perform well or to be constant in laying they must have enough light or have a lengthened day light.
For this to work the farmer must make sure that the birds have 15 to 18hrs of light available to the laying birds or housed birds daily during winter when daylight length is short.
This will also make the birds not to go into moulting during the winter period.
These are the highlights of egg production for a farmer who is already or is going into this business. For the veterans this is not new at all.
To summarize all this, after a year in lay, production from old layers begins to drop to uneconomic level.
To maintain continuity of egg supply and a steady income the replacement should start or begin laying as old birds go out of lay.
This means the pullets must be received at the correct time so that at twenty two (22) weeks they start or begin to drop eggs.
In the house where they are placed the required or necessary equipment and food must be bought.
I believe this would help to plan continued egg production by those still learning and those anticipating to start egg production as a form of income.
It is also important to attend to short courses offered by different organization in order to be up to date with current trends that way are farmers would improve their farming activities.