The three most common poultry rearing systems are free-range, semi-intensive and intensive production. Before picking a system, the farmer needs to consider the breed of chicken, production purpose, growth rate and number of chicken reared.
Among the aforementioned systems, free-range system is the most popular and most common. Practiced mostly in rural areas, this system requires less to no technology at all to raise chickens.
Most free-range flocks have five to 30 chickens and they are just left outside to cater their own nutritional requirements. They feed on insects and worms and occasionally get supplemental feeds like leftovers and cereals.
Under this system, chickens are mostly raised for self-consumption or extra income. Production and growth rate are low because chickens normally don’t meet their daily nutritional needs through scavenging.
In semi-intensive system, chickens are left to scavenge during the day and at night they move into a well-structured poultry house. Poultry are given with supplemental feed for high rate of growth.
The chickens are better protected from predators, thieves and harsh climatic conditions under this system. The production purpose is geared towards profit-making.
Land size determines the number of birds to be reared in this system.
Intensive production system is totally market-oriented with the number of chickens reared ranging from hundreds to thousands. Naturally, capital investment is considerably higher compared to the other systems.
This system can be divided into two categories – deep litter and battery cage. In deep litter system, the floor has about four to six inches of litter, including wood shavings, rice and coffee husks. In battery cage system, on the other hand, chickens are housed in cages that hold four to six birds per cage.