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Updated on July 21, 2017

Poultry Management

In animal production, the housing system of poultry management is the shelter system that defines the extent to which birds are exposed to sunshine, pasture, and housing pattern.

Generally, we have three system of poultry management.

They are:

(1) The Intensive System

(2) The Semi-intensive System

(3) The Extensive System


Under the Intensive system, the farmer confines the birds within the building or cage. This means that there is a tight restriction of the birds. The deep litter system and the battery cage system are typical examples of the Intensive system.


In the semi-intensive system, a poultry keeper requires a permanent house, often a converted barn, or farm building. In addition, a poultry farmer can employ the use of movable folds. However, there is access to plots of grazing areas that the poultry fowls can be released to intermittently. This means that some section of the poultry birds have access to each plot in turn, while the other is in shelter, depending on the amount of land available. A good example of the semi-intensive system is the fold unit system.


Under the extensive system of poultry management, 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. A typical example of the extensive system is the Free-range system.

Having grouped these different types of poultry management systems, let us keep ourselves abreast of the basic features of each of the poultry management system.


In the battery cage system, the poultry birds are kept indoors in individual cages usually within a large, controlled environment. The respective cages accommodate a limited numbers of birds, mostly one or two. Typically, each cage compartment has a laying nest with a sloping floor, and feed and water troughs. Thus, the battery cage system is created in a way that droppings from the birds fall straight through the cage floors .The other advantage of this system is that each time an egg is laid, it rolls onto a collection trough. In addition, food and water can be available automatically on demand, depending on the degree of automation in the battery cage system.

We can have a battery cage system where operations are performed manually, while at some other system, all the various operations, including manure removal, can be automated.

Under skilled management, the battery cage system of housing has proved to be the best concerning egg production, efficiency of food conversion and reduction in mortality. However, some farmers are of the opinion that the battery system is inhumane due to the restriction of the birds and the inability of the birds to follow their natural tendencies to peck, scratch and to take dust baths.


In the deep litter system, the poultry birds are housed in a single, large building with a straw or litter-covered floor, usually with electric lighting.

Now, the floor of a typical deep litter poultry house is made of concrete. Some poultry house owner can cover the concrete floor with wood shavings to serve as litter for absorbing poultry droppings. The walls can be made of sandcrete, mud, zinc or wood, while the roof is usually made of asbestos sheets, corrugated iron sheets .To promote good ventilation, the space between walls and roof can covered with wire nettings . In the deep-litter system, the litter build-up is removed once a year. After which it is converted to a collection of valuable compost manure that can be added to soil to promote the soil’s fertility. In addition, in this system, there is a relative measure of freedom as the poultry fowls are free to walk around and peck in a litter, while the year-round protection from cold and rain, together with the artificial lighting, does ensure a high level of egg production.

Other facilities that a farmer operating, or wish to operate, the deep litter house can put in place include:

{1} Poultry set such as feeding and drinking trough, placed in convenient places inside the pen.

{2} Disinfectant baths or foot dips that should be placed at the entrance of the house. This is to prevent introduction of disease pathogens by visitors.

{3} Gutter with insecticides-treated water around the house are provided to prevent the attack of soldier ants, termites.


This system utilizes a movable fold unit. A poultry farmer can create a unit measuring 20 feet by 6 feet .This structure should be able to shelter between twenty-five and thirty grazing fowls. Typically, a fold unit can be made with wooden covered-in area for weather protection, a section of it covered with a wire mesh to provide light and ventilation. In addition, the unit is equipped with carrying poles. This poles act as perch inside. However, there is much labor required in this type of system as there is need to always move the folds around .Though, some innovative poultry farmer can create a fold house with wheels, thus, making locomotion easier. As soon as the grazing is exhausted (usually after one day), the poultry farmer moves the fold unit within a distance of its own length, so that the fowls have access to fresh pasture. Thus, we have a rotational movement of the fold house regularly around the expanse of pasture in that particular farmland. The advantages of this system are that grazing is controlled, fresh grass is available and there is no build up of droppings that may act as entry point for parasites and diseases. In addition, in the fold unit system, the birds are safe from the attack of wild animals and harsh weather.


The free-range system is a type of poultry keeping system in which the poultry birds roam around within a lot of land and fields of pasture. For most of the year, the birds found their own food, thus, reducing feedings costs. It is a well-known fact that the free-range system is the most natural of the poultry management system. The birds are usually confined in a shed at night but are allowed to roam within the fenced area, or even beyond, during the day. During unfavorable weather conditions, the birds find shelter under trees, bushes, or hedges within the range while some run to the range shed to take cover.

The advantage of the free-range system is more prominent in the system of mixed farming .Here, the grazing birds help to useful work by scratching up and spreading cow dungs, which together with their own droppings(which is by the way more healthier than all) help to build up the fertility of the soil. In addition, the grazing birds help to get rid of parasites. On the other hand, the disadvantage in the free-range system is that the system exposes the birds to predators like snakes, rats, and foxes. Not forgetting to mention the high exposure to diseases

In addition, the poultry birds lay their eggs in hidden nests, rather than in the houses. This makes it difficult for a poultry keeper to pick these eggs, thus, egg production could drastically reduce in that particular farm. In cold weather, many birds die off. Therefore, a would-be poultry farmer has to take into cognizance the advantages, disadvantage of these different poultry system, and plan accordingly.


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