Improve your earnings from indigenous chickens

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Unlike in the past when most consumers in urban areas preferred to eat broilers, today consumers both in rural and urban areas have a high demand for local chicken more than broilers. Most food outlets in both urban and rural areas are often flooded with consumers demanding local chicken.

The change in eating habits has been prompted by the consumer awareness on the harmful effects of using growth hormones and antibiotics in broiler rearing. The use of antibiotics in broiler farming has been associated with the development of drug resistance by some infectious bacterial strains which infect human beings.

However, despite the huge demand for local chicken, most farmers still lack knowledge and skills of maximizing profitability in local poultry rearing. As such it is important to understand the strategies of how to reap the benefits of the hidden treasure in local poultry farming.


Indigenous poultry farming has become popular in Kenya due to high demand by consumers for local chickens but farmers lack the techniques of optimizing production and profits.


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The following are some of the tips:

Use of artificial incubator

Most local poultry farmers still use natural incubation whereby, the mother hen would sit on the eggs for 21 days. This is for convenience because the hen would turn the eggs and hatch them. The method is also cheap and requires minimal investment. The system requires simple tools such as basin or plastic for containing 10 -15 eggs depending on the size of the mother hen. The hen and the eggs require protection from the predators. The system is however slow and is limited to setting few eggs according to the capacity of the mother. Use of artificial incubators can solve this challenge, but it would require extra investment on electricity or solar power. Simple incubators with a capacity of 60 - 90 eggs are available although they would require an extra investment of Ksh 20,000/- to 30,000/- depending on the manufacturer. There are also locally made incubators which are powered by 12 volt DC batteries. Use of artificial incubators increases the number of eggs per setting. Hence an increase in the number of hatched chicks.

Brooding of the chicks

Separating the chicks from the mother hen immediately after hatching can enhance profitability of local poultry farming. Use of artificial brooders can increase survival rate of chicks. It is easy to monitor behavior of chicks in brooder and also easy to monitor their comfort. The mother hen would start to lay next cycle of eggs early (in 2 – 3 weeks) after separating her with the chicks whereas a brooding hen would take 12 – 20 weeks to brood the chicks before she starts the next egg laying cycle. Artificial brooding can be done by a charcoal brooder jiko, biogas brooders or by electricity using special brooding bulbs. A brooder guard made of ceiling board should be put around the chicks to keep the heat within the brooder. Artificial brooding takes 4 weeks for the chicks to be covered well with feathers and thereafter, the brooding heat can be removed. Separating the mother hen from chicks increases their egg laying cycle and production of more chicks.

Feeding and watering of the chicks

Chicks should be offered good quality feed for a period of eight weeks to enable them to gain weight faster. They should be offered formulated chick and duck mash in adequate amounts. Chicks do not eat much and as such, it is not expensive to offer them complete mash. 10 day old chicks can eat 1kg of chick mash in 2 – 3 weeks. 1kg of chick mash costs about Ksh 50. Chicks should also be given clean drinking water in adequate amount. A good check for this is that water and feed should always be readily available for the chicks. After 8 weeks, the local chicks should be supplemented with growers mash for 30 days in the house before they are allowed to scavenge from the fourth month. Good feeding management would ensure that the birds grow faster and become ready for the market earlier than the free range birds.

Feeding and watering of the chicks

Chicks should be offered good quality feed for a period of eight weeks to enable them to gain weight faster. They should be offered formulated chick and duck mash in adequate amounts. Chicks do not eat much and as such, it is not expensive to offer them complete mash. 10 day old chicks can eat 1kg of chick mash in 2 – 3 weeks. 1kg of chick mash costs about Ksh 50. Chicks should also be given clean drinking water in adequate amount. A good check for this is that water and feed should always be readily available for the chicks. After 8 weeks, the local chicks should be supplemented with growers mash for 30 days in the house before they are allowed to scavenge from the fourth month. Good feeding management would ensure that the birds grow faster and become ready for the market earlier than the free range birds.

Vaccination of the chicks

Local poultry chicks should be vaccinated against common poultry diseases such as Gumboro disease, New Castle Disease and fowl pox. Chicks should be given the first Gumboro vaccination within the first 7 - 10 days and a repeat vaccination of the same within 2 -3 months in Gumboro disease hot spot areas. The first New Castle disease vaccination should be given in the second week while the second vaccination of the same should follow between 2 – 3 months. Fowl pox vaccination should be given in the sixteenth week. Vaccination increases the survival rate of chicks and also the number of birds for selling.

>>Share your experiences with TOF and fellow farmers. Send email [email protected]

 

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