Course CodeBAG208
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • for Self Sufficiency
  • as a Hobby
  • start a small farm

 ACS Student Comment: [The course] has helped me to get into College to study Countryside and Environment Management. I have always been interested in all animals especially poultry and the college tutors were impressed with my knowledge. So I am very pleased I did this course. My mum is now thinking about taking the Goat course, as she breeds Pygmy and Golden Guernsey goats and says she would enjoy learning more about them. Aaron May, UK, Poultry course.

Poultry BAG 208 is for both people wishing to work in the poultry industry and amateur enthusiasts, the course examines diet, breeding, vaccination, pests and diseases and much more.   To get the most out of your chickens you need to know how to care for them.  This course aims to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to keep your chickens in optimum condition.


Small Scale Poultry Farming

Small or beginner farmers should consider producing poultry or poultry products for niche markets such as:

  • Special breeds for exhibition,
  • Organic meat,
  • Free range eggs
  • Raising poultry for the backyarder 

To be successful in a niche market the small enterprise will need to:

  • Focus heavily on customer service
  • Find a market with limited competition
  • Research market trends
  • Maintain profitability (particularly with products that have competition from large suppliers)
  • Gain long term customer loyalty

The advantage for the small producer is that they will most likely have the opportunity, whilst the business is still run on a part-time basis, to earn income from an outside source (or complimentary enterprise) in the initial setting up period.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction: Terminology
    • Poultry Terms
    • Contract Growing
    • Regulations
    • Management Factors
    • Further Considerations
    • Small Scale Considerations
    • Poultry Breeds, Light Breeds, Dual Purpose Breeds
    • Cross Bred Poultry
    • Incubation and Rearing
    • Poultry Husbandry
    • Turkeys
    • Geese
    • Ducks
    • Skeleton System
  2. Nutrition
    • The Digestive Track
    • Sources of Nutrients
    • Rationing for Poultry, phase feeding, limited feeding,
    • Rations
  3. Diseases In Poultry
    • Viral Diseases
    • Bacterial Diseases
    • Mycoplasmosis
    • Fungi
    • Protozoan
    • Non Infectious Diseases
    • Vitamin & Mineral Deficiency
    • Parasites
  4. Layers
    • The Extensive System
    • Disease Management
    • The Semi-Intensive System
    • The Intensive System
    • Housing
    • Nest Boxes
    • Drinker Systems
  5. Broilers
    • The Brooding Period
    • Feeding Broilers
    • Housing
    • Hygiene & Health
  6. Incubation
    • Natural Incubation
    • Artificial Incubation
    • Incubator Management
    • Poor Hatchability
  7. Brooding
    • Heating
    • Feeders
    • Drinkers
    • Floor Space
    • Rearing
  8. Record Keeping, Economics & Marketing
    • Records
    • Growth Records
    • Egg Production Records
    • A Small Scale Poultry Business
    • Preparing a Farm Business Plan
    • Finance
    • Land Care or Land Management


  • Select appropriate poultry breeds for use in different production situations
  • Explain the techniques used in the management of condition, including both feeding, and pest and disease control, of poultry.
  • Explain the management of poultry as layers.
  • Explain the procedures for the management of poultry as broilers.
  • Explain the techniques used in the management of poultry incubation.
  • Explain the management of brooding poultry.
  • Develop management strategies for a poultry business.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between cross bred and pure bred poultry, being grown in your locality.
  • Categorise different breeds of poultry, including ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys; into groups, including: *Egg laying birds *Meat/Table birds *Dual purpose breeds.
  • Explain the advantages of cross breeding poultry for two different specified purposes.
  • Label the parts of a chicken on a supplied unlabelled illustration.
  • Evaluate ten different poultry breeds to determine the most suitable breeds for three different specified purposes.
  • Label on an unlabelled illustration, the parts of the digestive tract of a fowl.
  • Describe the function of different parts of the digestive system of poultry.
  • List the dietary sources of different nutrients for poultry.
  • Describe the function of five different ingredients in specified poultry feeds.
  • Explain how rations of feed are determined for poultry.
  • Describe the feeding of poultry stock in a specified situation.
  • Describe possible dietary disorders in poultry.
  • Describe commercially significant pests and diseases in poultry.
  • Develop a checklist to be used for regular inspections to detect signs of ill health in poultry.
  • Explain the treatment of six different pests and diseases in poultry.
  • Describe a poultry vaccination program for a specified property.
  • Explain the techniques for, and the value of, quarantine procedures for poultry.
  • Compare extensive (free range), semi-intensive and intensive production systems, in terms of: *management *production cost *product quality product quantity.
  • Describe different housing requirements for poultry.
  • Explain a commercially viable method of collecting eggs, used on a specific poultry farm.
  • Explain three procedures used in an egg production system which are critical to the efficient operation of a specified farm.
  • Develop a production plan for laying poultry, which includes details of; *birds required *facilities required *materials needed *a schedule of husbandry tasks *cost estimates.
  • Describe the brooding period for a typical fowl, on a specified property.
  • Explain how brooders are successfully fed, on a specific property visited by you.
  • Explain appropriate housing for broilers being provided at a poultry farm, as observed by you.
  • Explain how hygiene and health are managed in a broiler production system, as observed by you.
  • Evaluate the successful management of broilers in a specified situation.
  • Describe daily routine tasks carried out in farming of broilers at a poultry farm visited by you.
  • Describe the process of incubation, as observed by you on a poultry farm.
  • Compare natural with artificial incubation methods, to determine appropriate applications for each type.
  • List criteria for selecting eggs for incubation in a specified situation.
  • List five different reasons for poor hatchability.
  • Compare two different incubator designs with respect to cost and application.
  • Describe the management of a specific incubator which the learner has inspected.
  • Describe the characteristics which distinguish brooding poultry from other poultry.
  • Explain how to create an appropriate brooding environment for a specific situation.
  • Compare different types of brooders.
  • Describe the operation of different brooding equipment.
  • Prepare a timetable of husbandry tasks from hatching to maturity for a brooding fowl.
  • Explain problems that may occur during rearing, including: *crowding *cannibalism.
  • Develop a checklist for monitoring the condition of a brooding fowl.
  • List records which should be kept by a poultry farmer.
  • Analyse purchasing procedures for routine supplies, used by a specified poultry farm.
  • Explain the value of different records kept by a poultry farmer, including: *growth records *egg production records.
  • List the minimum machinery required for a specified poultry enterprise.
  • Calculate the cost of production, showing a breakdown of the costs, of one marketable produce item in a small poultry business.
  • List factors which may be critical to successful marketing for a poultry farm.
  • Explain any legal requirements which apply to a specified poultry enterprise.
  • Write a job specification for one member of staff on a poultry property.
  • Prepare a report on innovations in the poultry industry being used in your locality.
  • Develop a detailed poultry production plan.
  • Describe a successful marketing strategy employed by one supplier of poultry products in your locality.
  • Recommend an innovative approach to marketing for a poultry enterprise which you are familiar with.
  • Match credit to business needs of a poultry farm to develop the most suitable strategy for the enterprise.

Sample Course Notes

Getting Started with Chickens


It is important to have the right birds to get high production. Crossbreds, birds used mainly in commercial production, are capable of laying eggs at a high rate and are very economical to feed. The White Leghorn male crossed with a female Australorp, reduces problems with broodiness. The New Hampshire x Rhode Island Red is another good crossbred. Your choice could also be determined by the colour of egg you or the market prefers. Whatever you choose though, it is important that you obtain stock from a reliable poultry breeder and preferably go for hens that are known to do well in your area.

There are various ways in which you can obtain hens. You can buy them as day‑old chicks, as pullets or as battery hens. Day‑old chicks are cheap but require six months of feeding and much care and attention before they start laying.

Battery hens are a cheap way of getting hens for home use but they are often in poor condition and could be diseased. They are usually sold off battery farms after they have completed their first laying season. The easiest way to begin is to buy pullets. If you buy them at 18 weeks of age, they will start laying in another 4‑6 weeks. Young birds should be kept separate from older birds, so you will need a second shed or dispose of the older flock and thoroughly clean out the shed.


Layers need a well‑balanced ration. Feed bought ready mixed contains all the protein, minerals and vitamins needed in correct proportions. It comes as pellets, crumble or mash. Crumble or mash is preferred because birds take longer to eat it.

The feed should be freely available during the day. It should be kept dry and can remain for up to 3 months if properly stored (garbage bins are ideal).

If you decide to mix the feed yourself, the following mixture is suitable:

  • Wheat 36 parts
  • Ground Barley or Milo 36 parts
  • Lucerne meal 5 parts
  • Meat and Bone Meal (50% protein) 17 parts
  • Ground limestone 6 parts
  • Salt 0.2 parts

Another formula (one commonly found in old farming books) is:

  • Bran 3 parts
  • Pollard 6 parts
  • Meat meal or Buttermilk 1 part

Both these mashes should be fed with scratch grain. Whole grain (wheat, barley or oats) scattered over the litter once each day, encourages hens to scratch and maintain the litter in good condition. The amount of grain should be limited to 10 g/bird/day if a complete 15% protein feed is being fed.

Kitchen scraps can also be used as a supplement provided they are not high in salt or too fatty. If you have plenty of scraps you may be able to suffice by feeding only these together with 125 g of grain per hen divided between morning and evening. In winter, hens appreciate having their scraps mixed and mulched together with hot water.

Green feed has good food value, keeps the birds interested and gives a deeper colour to the egg yolks. Birds can eat as much as they will eat and can graze as often as possible.

Also, if it can be obtained, a pan of shell grit in the shed helps to ensure all eggs have strong shells.


A constant supply of fresh, clean water must always be available. Water troughs must be kept clean and shaded from the sun. Adult hens will drink between 0.2 and 0.5 litres each day, depending on the temperature.


Make sure that your birds have access to shade and are sheltered from wind, rain and hot weather. You need to be sure that you shed is free from draughts but sufficiently well ventilated to avoid a build‑up of ammonia, which develops in wet litter. Protection from predators is very important (e.g. foxes, cats, rats).

Each hen requires about 0.35 square metres of floor space and one nest of about 0.3 m x 0.3 m should be provided for every four hens. Nests can be made from metal or wood and should be 28 cm high with a front plate about 10 cm high.

The shed should be built on a well drained site using a skillion roof design, with the front higher than the back and the roof extended over the front by about 0.75 m to form an eave. The front of the shed should preferably face to the north or otherwise to the east.

The deep litter system is a comfortable and hygienic method of keeping small numbers of hens. The litter should be a 0.2 m deep layer of straw, rice hulls or wood shavings.

Meal or mash should be placed in a hopper. Each bird requires about 100 g of feed per day but this amount varies with temperature (hens eat more when it's cold).

Drinkers should be installed in front of the shed so that an overflow does not wet the litter. There are various types of drinkers available from equipment firms if you do not wish to make one up yourself.

At night, most hens seek a perch to sit on. Perches help to keep the litter dry and allow a good circulation of air around the birds. Perches should be 0.3 m apart and of sufficient length to allow 25 cm per bird. They are best fixed above the rear of the pen, about 0.6 m above the litter.


Fowls are susceptible to many diseases. These may be prevented with proper care. The following rules should be followed:

  • Provide a balanced diet and make sure the feed is free from moulds and chemical contaminants (i.e. pickled grain).
  • Keep the litter dry. Coccidiosis (an intestinal infection) and worms become a problem with wet litters.
  • Provide a comfortable environment (temperatures between 10 and 32 degrees C). Clean out feeders and drinkers regularly and remove all rubbish.
  • Isolate your birds. Keep new birds separate for at least 10 days to observe if they have any disease.
  • Watch for early signs of disease (reduced activity and noise, difficult breathing, abnormal gait or posture, changes in comb or shank colour, discharge or crusting around eyes and nostrils, ruffled feathers, unusual smells, sudden changes in feed or water consumption, decreased egg production). Sick or dead birds should be removed promptly.
  • Prevent cannibalism. This requires sufficient space, escape areas such as roosts, distractions such as a bale of straw or a cabbage hung from the roof. Injured birds should be removed and treated as soon as possible.
We hope that we have answered all of your questions, but if not, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or email us.


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