One lucrative farming business is poultry farming. Poultry meat comes predominantly from two sources: Broilers and Cockerels. Because of the low cost and lower vulnerability to disease compared to broiler production, the small poultry farmer prefers to rear Cockerels rather than Broilers.
In both urban and rural areas, Cockerels are reared. The Cockerel is a chicken guy.
The benefits of Cockerel farming;
- The meat is delicious and well-accepted
- There is no stigma against meat consumption.
- It can be raised on both large and small scales.
- Compared to other birds, Cockerels are hardy and less vulnerable to diseases.
- They can be grown under intensive and semi-intensive development scheme.
- In contrast to broiler beef, the meat is poor in fat and cholesterol.
- Local people usually raise it.
- It is a healthy source of protein from animals and it has a high biological value.
- This is a strong source of revenue for farmers.
- The business may be merged with other farm businesses.
- It could be conveniently sourced from the day-old cockerel.
- Marketing for Cockerel is all year round and not seasonal.
- It can hit a market weight of 3-4kg at maturity.
There are different types of cockerel breeds in the world. The breeds could be classified as; (i) Local cockerel (ii) Exotic cockerel.
Cockerels are the young cock or the young roaster.
Cockerels were the meat producers before the emergency of the modern broiler, while the hen lays eggs for chicks or table. However, once different meat and egg-producing hybrids were bred by the industry, there was no need to retain the egg-producing hybrid males. Hence, once the chicks are hatched, they are sexed and the Pullet kept for egg production as Commercial Layers and the Cockerels crushed or given out at a much cheaper price.
Reasons for Rejecting the Cockerels.
- Slow growth rate
- Low feed conversion rate
- Non-tender meat at maturity.
How to Make Cockerels Grow Faster and Big
1. Provide Enough Space in Pen or Cage
2. Sort Chickens based on their sizes and live weights
3. Give well-balanced and nutritious feeds
4. Provide feed and water Ad libitum
5. Keep birds healthy
Exploitable Features of the Cockerels Over Broilers (Advantages)
- Cockerels are hardy, hence easier to raise
- Cost of chicks very low, translating to profit
- Meat from cocks are of peculiar and better taste due to their age at maturity
- Many consumers have a preference for tougher meat at home
- Cockerels can easily be raised on free-range.
Based on the above we will discuss the methods of raising cockerels to either juveniles or Roasters.
This includes having, brooding and growing Day-old Chicks (cockerels) from the hatchery to four weeks of age when we can refer to them as juveniles or growers. They will eat about 600 grams of chick feed within this time and gain about 290 grams of body weight. They can be sold out from this age to individuals who will further sell them to consumers who will also hold them as backyard roasters in few quantities.
- Raising Cockerels to Cock (Roaster)
This will involve caring for the birds for about 25 to 30 weeks or even more. We will assume that the bird would be sold at 25th weeks of age to make our calculations.
There are three ways the birds can be kept.
- Free Range.
The juveniles are allowed to freely move within a secluded place where the birds can forage and feed on insects etc. the farmer supplement their feed with maize offal, grain, hydroponic, or food leftover. He also provides medication, vaccinations and housing. Cost of feeding would be highly reduced and with the new technology of hydroponics, balanced feeding would be achieved. Challenges would be space requirement, biosecurity and limits in number.
- Deep litter system.
The birds can be kept from day old to maturity on the deep litters. Hydroponic fodders can also be utilized, feed requirement must be balanced because the birds are restricted.
- Cage system of management.
Cockerels can be kept in cages. Cages could be locally constructed, wooden or galvanised battery cages. If galvanised cages are to be used, the bird would have to attain a minimum of 12 weeks before they are introduced. They will hence be feed compounded feed or the readily available commercial feed. It is preferable to feed cocks on more nutritious feed than growers to obtain better weight gain. The cocks raised on the cage system will be more uniform in growth and attain better weight gain earlier than those raised on the floor.
Cocks have a powerful beak and could peck or even scratch. To avoid injury, wear hand glove when attempting to handle them.