Pros and Cons of Rearing Multiple Aged Batches in backyard Broiler Farming

18 July 2018

This article is brought to you by Raymond Phineas Murombedzi. He writes in his capacity as a Technical Advisor at Profeeds and can be contacted on +263 772 407 820 or

Multi-age broiler farming is the increasingly common practice of rearing more than one batch of different ages on the same premises at the same time. The most prevalent scenario is of farmers stocking two or three batches every fortnight with the youngest batch in the ‘brooder’ at one week old, the next batch at three weeks and another batch at five weeks of age. These batches as they are  transferred in sequence from brooder to second pen then to finishing pen without affording any rest and sometimes thorough cleaning for the housing.

Visits to numerous broiler sites have revealed how farmers adopt different ways of rearing multi-age broiler batches.   This practise can be found across diverse production systems from backyard to large scale. Some farmers partition the same broiler house with a few courses of bricks, curtains/blankets, cardboard, bird mesh etc. Others build permanent walls to separate the different batches but with connecting doors. Yet others avoid connecting doors and put outside doors to each individual pen. In some instances, farmers have built separate houses for different batches on the same premises.

This article provides information that allows farmers to weigh for themselves the pros and cons of keeping multiple batches at the same time in the same house or even in the same premises. Industry experts advocate for the adoption of best practices since they serve to reduce the risk of losses as well as safeguarding the wellbeing of the livestock, the farmer and the community as a whole. As unpalatable as some recommendations might be to farmers, these ensure good quality, safe, consistent production.

Pros Vs Cons

Pros  Cons
Regular and frequent slaughter or live sales (weekly/fortnightly/monthly) Ineffective cleaning and disinfection program
Continuous production Pathogen proliferation
Easier to maintain customer base. Stunted growth
Less capital outlay required to run smaller batches than one big batch Poor uniformity
Funds for selling chicken used to fund chick and feed purchases of other batches High mortality
Less requirement for Equipment like feeders, drinkers and heaters Longer production cycles
No downtime for equipment Increased feed consumption.
  Financial losses
  Disappointed customers
  Blame-Game with chick supplier and feed manufacturer.
  Broken partnerships
  Bankrupt Farmer















  1. Avoid multi-age batches in the same house
  2. In the case of separate houses leave at least 20m in-between and
  3. Maintain exclusivity for housemen and their batches
  4. Provide foot baths and use effective disinfectants like Maxi-Virucide
  5. Practise ALL-IN-ALL-OUT to allow effective cleaning and disinfection.
  6. Remove all manure immediately after slaughter/sale of batch.
  7. Do not use manure in gardens at the same premises. Some diseases are spread by airborne pathogens. Composting the manure is not always effective.
  8. Wash the house with Poultry-Specific detergent (Maxi-Clean), and follow up with Poultry-Specific disinfectant (Maxi-Protect) found at Profeeds centres countrywide.
  9. Rest broiler houses and premises for 14 continuous days.

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