How to make feeds for free range indigenous chickens

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Poultry farming is a major economic activity among rural and even urban farmers in Kenya. However, the cost of feeds is so high that farmers find it difficult to buy commercial feeds. Making own feeds at home, reduces costs and increases profit.

Poultry farming has made immense contribution to the Kenya’s economy. Poultry farming contributes about 2.3 % of the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 6.1 % of the livestock GDP and 0.7% of the GDP. Therefore many people living in the urban and rural areas of Kenya derive their livelihood from poultry farming. Keeping of local poultry has increased recently and the trend has been attributed to the demand for local chicken meat by local consumers. However, lack of appropriate feeds for local chicken has made it difficult to improve the productivity of local poultry farming to meet the increasing demand for meat and eggs. The prices of commercially manufactured poultry feeds are beyond the reach of most small-scale farmers.

Careful preparation of poultry feeds improves productivity

The quality of commercial feeds is not guaranteed due to limited capacity and logistical challenges among the feed regulators. Lack of policy guidelines in feed industry is being addressed by the department of livestock. Hence, poultry farmers would reap more benefits once the policy becomes operational. Farmers are advised to exercise caution when buying manufactured feeds. This is because some unscrupulous feed manufacturers sell poor quality feeds such as crushed maize cobs with traces of aflatoxin and sell it as maize germ. Another key challenge in poultry feed formulation is erratic availability of local feed ingredients among poultry farmers. Different regions in Kenya have potential for different feed resources.

A simple homemade poultry ration has been demonstrated for poultry farmers, based on commonly available resources. However, the formulation is recommended for only extensively reared birds (those which are not confined in a house). Homemade feeds ensure quality because the farmer can carefully select the type of ingredients to use.

Farmers should avoid the use of rotten maize when preparing poultry feeds because poultry are very sensitive to feed contamination especially with aflatoxins.

Best practices during the preparation of poultry feeds

When using low quality ingredients, it is always important to add toxin binders to prevent aflatoxin contamination. Mycotoxin binders greatly reduce aflatoxin poisoning especially for chickens as they are highly sensitive to aflatoxin poisoning. Egg production and meat quality are adversely affected. Farmers should understand that the formula has balanced proteins only. Energy and other nutrients can be balanced by the hen during scavenging. Therefore, the formula is not recommended for intensively managed birds. Farmers in urban areas, who have access to maize germ can use it because it is cheaper than whole maize.

Additional tips when making your own poultry feeds

When preparing poultry feeds from home, it is always important to isolate a few birds and observe if there is any change. The changes to look out for are improved egg-laying or weight gain for birds meant for meat. For free range birds, this can be quite challenging. But, the farmer can isolate poultry by fencing off a section of the land where the birds can still scavenge as they are given the new feeds, and assessed for performance. Alternatively, farmers can send the feeds for testing at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) in Naivasha (the address is provided below) to ensure the feed is properly prepared.

Farmers can use the following simple formulations ratios to make their own poultry feeds at home:

Kienyeji chick mash with 20% crude protein

Ingredient type Weight (kg)

Crude protein (%) in ingredient

Crude protein (kg) in the mixture

Whole maize meal 48.57 8.2 3.9
Soya 18.57 45 8.3
Fish meal (omena) 12.85 55 7.0
Maize bran 14.28 7 1
Lime 5.7 0 0
Total 100   20.4

 

Kienyeji growers mash with 16% crude protein

Ingredient type

Weight (kg)

Crude protein (%) ingredient

Crude protein (kg) in the mixture

Whole maize meal

62.85

8.2

5.1

Soya

11.42

45

5.1

Fish meal (omena)

10

55

5.5

Maize bran

10

7

0.7

Lime

5.71

0

0

Total

100

 

16.5

 

Kienyeji layers mash with 18% crude protein

Ingredient type

Weight (kg)

Crude protein  in ingredient

(%)

Crude protein

(kg) in the mixture

Whole maize meal

48.57

8.2

3.9

Soya

17.14

45

7.7

Fish meal (omena)

11.42

55

6.2

Maize bran

14.28

7

1

Lime

8.5

0

0

Total

100

 

16.5

For feed testing, farmers can send feed samples to KALRO, Naivasha. The results are usually ready in 24 hours and can be sent to you by email. One sample costs KSh 1000. KALRO, Naivasha Tel. 020 23 90 930.

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