Livestock Research for Rural Development 16 (5) 2004

Citation of this paper

Status of layer farms in Peshawar division, Pakistan

Shah Mussawar, T M Durrani, K Munir,  Zahoor-ul-Haq, M T Rahman and K Sarbiland

Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, NWFP Agricultural University Peshawar, Pakistan.
Department of Poultry Science, NWFP Agricultural University Peshawar, Pakistan.


Production and economic performance data of 25 commercial layer farms in Peshawar division were investigated during the year 2002.

Average number of day-old chicks started, pullets developed and hens housed were 4745±459, 4543±456 and 4409±459, respectively. Mean rate of culling, total mortality, total feed consumption including starter, grower and layer rations and feed conversion were: 2.90±0.40%, 18.0±1.98%, 36.3±1.11, 1.08±0.05, 4.14±0.11, 31.2±1.12 and 2.33±0.04 kg, respectively. Average age at point-of-lay, age at peak-of-lay, egg laying period, peak lay, percent lay, hen-day, and hen-housed egg production were: 125±2.44 days, 201±5.43 days, 229±10.1 days 91.6±0.65%, 68.0±1.17%, 202±7.72 eggs and 191±7.72 eggs, respectively. Mean total variable cost of production, gross return and net profit per bird were:  Rs. 415±10.8, Rs. 422±16.07 and Rs. 7.17±8.38, respectively. Flock size was negatively correlated (r = -0.342) with total mortality but positively correlated with net profit per bird (r = 0.471) whereas, mortality was negatively correlated with net profit per bird (r=-0.631). Hen-day egg production was positively correlated (r=0.557) with net profit per bird.

Key words: Commercial-layers, egg-production, feed-consumption, flock-size and mortality


Commercial layer production is perhaps the most significant sources of quality protein and income as compared with other livestock production activities. Smaller capital investment and rapid returns over the invested capital are the salient features of layer production as a layer usually starts laying eggs between the age of 16 (Farooq et al 2002) to 20 weeks (Petek 1999) and generates Rs. 38 (Nair and Ghadoliya 2000) to Rs. 62 (Zahid 1994) as net profit in the shortest possible time of one year. A commercial layer on the average produces 250 to 266 eggs in its production cycle (North 1984, and Petek 1999) as compared to the indigenous chicken producing 60 to 110 eggs (Farooq et al 2000). Since the establishment of the commercial poultry industry in Pakistan, a visible growth in the layer production sector has been observed. During the 1999-2000 there were 13.9 million commercial layers in Pakistan that produced 3,261 million eggs contributing 27% to the total egg production (8677 million eggs) in the country (Economic Survey of Pakistan 2001-2002).Although the egg industry has grown with a rapid speed, still there is a big gap between demand and supply of eggs in the country. The per capita availability of eggs in Pakistan was quite low (52 eggs per year) as compared to developed countries (about 250 per year; Economic Survey of Pakistan 2001-2002). The demand for eggs is a function of the price of eggs, consumer awareness about the quality products and nutrition and per capita income of the consumers. Thus, increase in income of the people, awareness of the consumers about quality nutrition and availability of eggs at reasonable prices will result in an increase in the demand for eggs, which is a major factor for the future development of this sector.

Commercial poultry production in general, and layer production in particular, could be made more profitable if it is taken as a package deal and the layers are managed properly. Appropriate size of the operation, maintaining highly productive stock, efficient utilization of resources, better housing, adoption of standard hygienic practices, reducing cost of production and adequate planning for marketing of the products play a major role in making commercial egg production more profitable. Kumar and Mahalati (1998) reported lower costs of production and higher returns for larger than smaller flocks. Efficient utilization of feed and avoiding unnecessary feed wastage would minimize total cost of production (Elwardany et al 1998). Thus, management of egg laying birds in an appropriate rearing environment would ensure better profitability.

The present study was therefore an effort to investigate various egg production traits and associated factors affecting profitability of commercial egg laying birds in Peshawar division.

Materials and methods

The present study was conducted in Peshawar division by collecting data from 25 commercial layer farms. Layer farming is not intensively practiced in Peshawar division therefore all the 25 commercial layer farms were visited for the data collection. Information regarding number of chicks started, daily mortality and rate of culling, if any, amount of starter, grower and layer ration consumed, number of hens housed, age at point of lay, age at peak of lay, daily egg production and flock statistics, egg laying period, cost of production and gross return were collected for each farm. Hen-housed was the term applied to those birds which were kept in egg laying houses before the onset of lay.

Daily percent lay was calculated using the following formulae given by North (1984);

Daily percent lay = 100*(Number of eggs produced per day)/(Number of birds available per day in the shed)

The daily percent lay was then summed to calculate percent lay for the whole egg laying period. Hen-day egg production was worked out on the basis of eggs produced per day divided by the number of birds available in the shed on that day;

Hen-day egg production = (Total eggs produced per day)/(Total birds on that day)

Hen-day egg production for the whole period was worked out by summing the daily hen-day egg production of the flock. Hen-housed egg production was worked out using the following formula;

Hen-housed egg production = (Total eggs produced by a flock)/(Total number of hens housed

The data were analyzed using univariate procedures and correlation analysis. Correlations were calculated among the following variables:  flock size, mortality, feed consumption, cost of production, net profit per bird, age at point of lay, age at peak of lay, egg laying period, peak lay, percent lay, hen-day egg production and hen-housed egg production.

Results and discussion

Flock size, rate of culling and mortality

The average number of day-old chicks started on the farms  was 4745 (Table 1). A total of 4543 pullets were left after after excluding mortality at the brooding stage. Out of the total pullets, 4409 hens were housed. Farooq et al (2002) reported a larger number of hens housed in Chakwal than the present findings. The smaller number of layers in Peshawar division could be due to poor development of the commercial layer set up as compared to district Chakwal where commercial layer production in intensively practiced.

The mean rate of culling per flock was 2.90% (Table 1). Singh and Belsare (1994) reported a higher proportion of culls (14.4%) than the present findings. Total mortality in the present study included both culled birds and death losses. The mean total mortality in commercial layers was 18.0% representing 15.1% total death losses (Table 1). Mortality in the present study was higher than the 6.8% reported by Tolimir and Masic (2000) and 12 to 14% reported by Singh et al (1994). The higher mortality in the present study could be due to inadequate measures taken for preventing higher death losses. Flock size was negatively correlated (r = -0.34) with total mortality.

Table 1. Flock statistics of commercial layers maintained in Peshawar division




Day-old chicks arrived at the farm



Total pullets






Total mortality (a+b)



a. Total death losses



b. Culling



Feed consumption and efficiency

Farooq et al. (2002) reported a similar feed consumption (37.0±0.55 kg) per commercial layer in Chakwal compared with the present findings (Table 2).

Table 2. Feed consumption statistics (kg) of commercial layers maintained in Peshawar division


(Per flock)

(Per bird)

Starter ration



Grower ration



Layer ration



Total feed



Feed conversion*


* Layer ration consumed per dozen  eggs

The feed conversion data reported in this study was poorer than that (2.07, 1.07) reported by Elwardany et al (1998) and North (1984)  and better then the data  recorded (2.99) by  Singh and Belsare (1994).

Age at point-of-lay and age at peak-of-lay

Tolimir and Masic (2000) and Farooq et al (2002) reported similar results for average age at point-of-lay and at peak-of-lay whereas North (1984) and Singh and Belsare (1994) reported higher ages than the present findings (Table 3).

Table 3. Egg production statistics of commercial layers maintained in Peshawar division




Age at point of lay



Age at peak of lay



Egg laying period



Peak lay



Percent lay



Hen-day egg production



Hen-housed egg production



Broken eggs



Soft eggs



Culled eggs



Peak lay and percent lay

Kristensen and Sillebak-Kristensen (1996) and North (1984) reported higher percent lay (74.5, 73%) than the present findings (Table 3). Peak percent lay tended to be negatively correlated with mortality (r = -0.313; P=0.127). There was a similar tendency between percent lay and age at point-of-lay (r = -0.365; P=0.073).

Hen-day and hen-housed egg production and egg laying period

Hen-day egg production was negatively correlated with age-at-point-of-lay (r = -0.434; P=0.030). North (1984) and Petek (1999) reported a higher egg laying period (more than 52 weeks) than the present findings. The shorter egg laying period in the present study is attributable to seasonal trends in egg consumption. People in the area usually consume eggs in the relatively cooler months of the year. The egg price in hotter months falls to a level where it does not compensate the cost of production and the farmers, therefore, terminate layer production, resulting in a shorter egg laying period. The egg laying period was negatively correlated with age at point-of-lay (r = -0.52; P=0.007).

Cost of production, gross return and net profit

Farooq et al (2003) reported lower costs of production (Rs. 394±35.5) per bird than the present findings (Table 4). Cost of production was positively correlated with age at point of lay (r = 0.37; P=0.070).

Table 4.  Economic statistics of commercial layers in Peshawar Division


Per bird

Total cost of production (Rs.)


Gross return  (Rs.)


Net profit  (Rs.)


Cost benefit ratio


Zahid et al (1994) and Farooq et al. (2003) reported higher gross returns and net profit per layer than the present findings. The lower net profit per bird in the present study is attributable to poor management, higher mortality and lower hen-day egg production. This was also evident from the negative correlation of net profit with mortality (r = -0.63; P=0.001) and positive correlation with hen-day egg production (r = 0.56; P=0.004). Asghar et al (2000), Zahir-ud-din et al (2001) and Farooq et al (2002) also reported reduction in net profit with increased rate of mortality. Net profit per bird was positively correlated with flock size (r = 0.47).


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Received 23 November 2003; Accepted 26 March 2004

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