Independent or Contract Production
In planning for a poultry operation, a determination should be made of all contractors operating within the area and the type of contract available.
Location Within Florida
Egg farms are located in counties all over the state; however, the major egg producing areas are the Tampa Bay area, all across Central Florida, northward to Nassau County, and scattered independent producers located across the northern part of the state.
Independent egg farms could be located in any county, however, make sure a market is available and zoning laws permit poultry farming. It would be well, however, to consider locating new farms well away from populated communities.
All commercial broiler producers are located in North Florida (counties north of Gainesville). It would not be feasible to establish a broiler farm in other counties, since essentially all broilers are produced under contract and, at present, contractors only operate in North Florida.
With building and equipment costs continuing to rise, it is difficult to set an accurate investment cost necessary to build and equip poultry houses. Today's investment for buildings and equipment alone are running approximately $5.00 - $7.00 per bird for layers, depending on the degree of mechanization. Broiler houses and equipment will run approximately $3.50 per square foot. Broilers are usually housed at about 0.8 square feet per bird.
Independent egg farms may be any size. New egg farms usually have 50,000 layers per farm. Broiler farms have 25,000 - 90,000 bird capacity per farm.
Since Florida is now an egg sufficient state, farms must produce eggs for a specific market. They can no longer produce eggs and then hope to sell them for a profit if they have to take a wholesale price for all eggs. In planning for an egg operation, the most important consideration is to have a specific market or a firm contract from a producer. One of the biggest advantages which a farmer has in producing eggs under contract is the freedom from concerns of marketing.
The most successful poultry operations are those in which the owner and the owner's family are actively involved in managing and working on the farm. Since poultry farming requires some work every day, the manager is responsible for labor seven days per week and most understand the need for this constant attention to details. The most successful poultry farmers enjoy this type of work.
See Table 1 for suggested number of layers per person (8 hours per day - 7 days per week) on independent farms, under varying conditions.
Suggested Number of Layers per Man on Independent Farms Under Varying Conditions
**Marketing Types as Follows:
A = Selling at wholesale with no grading involved
B = Selling at wholesale with grading being done at the farm
C = Semi-retailing (case lots) with no candling or cartoning
D = Semi-retailing (case lots) when candling and cartoning
E = Retailing door to door
*Producer Types as Follows:
1 = Producer who buys started pullets and whose operation is fully automatic
- with pit cleaners, egg gathering belts, etc.
2 = Producer who buys started pullets and has automatic feeders
3 = Producer who buys started pullets
4 = Producer who raises his own pullets and is fully automatic with pit cleaners, egg gathering belts, etc.
5 = Producer who raises his own pullets and has automatic feeders
6 = Producer who raises his own pullets
COMMERCIAL EGG PRODUCTION
Breeds and Strains Selection
Housing and Equipment
Essentially all commercial layers in Florida are housed in cages. If an egg farm is going to produce eggs under contract, the producer will be able to get construction details from the contractor and often must build and equip the house following the contractor's directions. Since many contractor-owned complexes are built with closed sided, evaporative cooled houses, contract producers may be required to provide similar facilities.
Poultry House Essentials
Feeds and Feeding
Five poultry diagnostic laboratories, under the direction of the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, are located at the following places:
Cottondale Laboratory (904-353-4461)
P.O. Box 37
Cottondale, FL 32431
Live Oak Laboratory (904-362-1216)
P.O. Drawer O
Live Oak, FL 32060
Dade City Laboratory (904-567-5176)
P.O. Box 1031
Dade City, FL 33525
Kissimmee Laboratory (305-847-3185)
P.O. Box 460
Kissimmee, FL 32641
Miami Springs Laboratory (305-888-8238)
8701 N.W. 58th St.
Miami, FL 33166
There is a charge of diagnostic service. Birds may be sent to these labs by express or by person. Birds should not be shipped to arrive on weekends. Three or four live birds showing typical symptoms of the condition prevalent in the flock should be sent. The shipment should be accompanied by as much information concerning the flock and sick birds as possible such as: age, duration of illness, previous history of illness and vaccination, size of flock, rate of mortality, medication administration, feed intake, production patterns, etc. All birds submitted as well as containers will be disposed of at the lab.
Cage Brooder houses
Many poultry farmers are now brooding pullets in cage brooders. Follow manufacturer's directions on heating systems. Use the same management recommendations for preparing house, feeding, watering and chick care.
Egg Handling for Quality
All broilers are produced and marketed by firms which own or control hatchery, feed mill, processing plant and market arrangements. Birds are grown by farmers under contract and under supervision of the contractor. The farmer provides land, labor, houses, equipment, taxes, utilities and insurance. The farmer is paid a base price plus bonus according to the contract.
Keep birds healthy, use 10 males per 100 broiler breeder females or 8 males per 100 egg breeder females.
Feed a breeder diet which is specially formulated for high hatchability.
Care of Hatching Eggs
*Extension Poultry Specialist, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.
This document was published December 1992 as RF-AA075, Florida Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office.
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