Friday, April 19, 2013

Indigenous Chicken Farming

Indigenous chicken farming has been described variously as backyard poultry
rearing, rural poultry production or scavenging. For our purpose, any flock of
chicken that are kept under free-range management and on which no selection of
breeds or improvement by crossbreeding has been done is considered as a flock of
indigenous chicken. Indigenous chicken lay between 8 and 15 eggs per clutch
depending on availability of feed. They are broody and hatch about 80% of the
eggs they sit on. They attain 2-3 clutches in a year.
The few chicks that attain 20-30% maturity form most of the replacement stock.
These birds, though under poor management, live within the families for many
years. They form an important part of family life playing important cultural roles
besides being a valuable source of protein and income.
Indigenous chicken have not attained their full production potential due to exposure
to risks that militate against their survival and productivity. Constraints to
production include diseases, predators and poor nutrition. Indigenous chicken can
be profitable if managed well. Control of common diseases in the free-range system
could improve survival rate of chicks by at least 30% while improved feeding,
housing and disease control could increase survival rate to 80%.
Families could improve their income and supply of poultry products (meat and
eggs) by practising a combination of recommendations given in this manual. The
aim of this manual is to create awareness and interest in indigenous chicken
production. The reader is encouraged to consult the Ministry of Livestock and
Fisheries Development and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) for
further information.
General management
Birds need feeds that give the necessary elements for body functions, including
growth, and egg and meat production. This is a requirement that the free-range
production system does not meet adequately. To attain a balanced diet, it is
recommended that in addition to scavenging, a farmer should include protein
supplements from one of the recommended cheap but quality sources. This can be
provided either as a pre-mix or given through cafeteria system.
Animals need carbohydrates for supply of energy and heat. In addition to kitchen
waste, birds should be given feed rich in energy such as maize, millet, cassava,
sweetpotatoes and sorghum.
Proteins are body building blocks that are essential for growth and production.
Feed birds on protein-rich non-conventional feed such as yeast, ‘Busaa’ waste (dregs
[Machicha]), sunflower cake, heat-treated soya or ordinary beans, lucerne, peas,
Indigenous chicken production manual
lupins, fishmeal (Omena), dried blood, rumen content, earthworms and termites.
Termites are trapped by slightly watering leafy waste such as maize stover and
rubbish collected from the compound and leaving them outside for 2 or 3 days.
Minerals are trace elements found in plant seeds and grate. Minerals such as calcium
that are important for bone and egg shell formation are found in fishmeal.
Vitamins are necessary for growth and reproduction. The rich, yellow pigment in
the skin and egg yolk of indigenous chicken indicates presence of carotenoids from
fresh vegetation such as grass and vegetables, the precursors of vitamin A.
Water is often not provided because farmers assume that the birds find it around
the homestead. Birds drink water from ponds and open tins during the rains but it
is better to give them clean and fresh water all the time at a specific place . It
is easy to medicate birds that drink from a central place.
Protective housing should be used in free-range poultry farming system to protect
chicks from predators and bad weather. Several housing structures including the
dome-shaped stick basket popular in western Kenya variably known as Lisera, Liuli
or Osero  which is ideal for daytime housing are found. Other alternatives
include the stick-built Kiduli and standard poultry houses . A good housing
structure should be spacious, well lit, airy and dry, easy to clean, have perches for
chicken to roost and protected from predators.
Cleaning and disinfecting
A chicken house should be decontaminated using fumes (fumigation) produced
from chemicals such potassium permanganate and formaline to kill germs. The
house must be tightly sealed so that the fumes remain in circulation for 18-24 h.
These conditions are not possible for indigenous poultry houses. Contamination
should be avoided by restricting entry into the house, quarantining all new chicken
by separating them from the flock,
keeping the house clean and wiping all surfaces with one part of jik in 3 parts of
water. Keep non-concrete floors smooth by smearing regularly with cow dung and
dusting with pesticides such as Sevin or Actelic to keep away vermin.

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