Top Stories (24)

Clean Egg Production

Clean egg production is much easier than physical cleaning of dirty eggs. It involves simple rules of good management of chickens and proper handling of eggs to prevent contamination and deterioration in the quality of eggs. This ensures safety of the consumers.
•    Raise the flock in an enclosed area to protect the birds from disease causing micro-organisms and make egg collection easier.
•    Keep the shed area clean and dry. Use clean hay or wood shavings as litter to ensure that the floors are not wet or muddy.
•    Provide one nest for every 3 to 4 hens and ensure the nests are large enough for the hens. In the nest, keep a thick layer of clean hay or wood shavings to protect the eggs from cracking or breaking. Clean the nests every week and change the nesting material.
•    Provide a perch or roosts that are higher than the nesting box and they should be placed away from the nesting box to prevent the chickens from sleeping in the nests.
•    Control rats, rodents, insects and wild birds in the poultry house because they can transmit diseases to the flock.
•    Collect the eggs often, at least twice daily. Eggs that stay in the nests for a long time have increased chance of becoming dirty, broken or cracked. Use a clean basket or plastic egg trays to collect eggs. Discard eggs with cracked shell.
•    Eggs from hens that are under treatment should also be discarded because they are not suitable for sale or for human consumption until the recommended withholding period for the drug is over.
•    Washing of dirty eggs is not recommended because it destroys the protective coating that prevents entry of microbes into the egg. A hand brush may be used to remove any debris on the eggs.
•    In case you wish to wash dirty eggs, use water that is about 200F warmer than the eggs. Using cooler water will cause the egg contents to contract producing a vacuum that will pull water and contaminants through the shell into the egg. Cleaning detergents specifically designed for eggs may be used followed by rinsing in water which should be warmer than the cleaning detergent.
•    Store dry eggs with the narrow ends facing down in egg trays. Keep the trays in a cool and dry place, avoid extreme temperature fluctuations. Do not store eggs near materials with strong odours such as fish because the eggs will absorb that odour.
•    Because fertilized eggs have short shelf life, do not store them for more than 14 days.

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Layer Poultry Feeding

Purchase feed from a reputable miller who can assure consistency in the quality and performance of the feed.  Avoid mixing feeds from several millers, adding other protein sources like fish, meal and minerals salts (DCP) as this changes the balance in the feed thereby affecting performance. Excess of some of these products also negatively affects the final products for instance fishy taint in eggs due to more than 5% fish meal in feed.

During the changes of the rations, mix the two rations so that the change is gradual. An abrupt change is stressful to the bird and can affect performance. Vitamins can be provided during this time to reduce the stress.

Layer chicks
From day 1 to 8 weeks they are feed on chick mash, after 8 weeks introduce growers mash gradually, then with layers mash after drop of first egg at around 23 weeks old. The starter feed should contain 18-20% CP and approximately 3,000 kcal ME/kg from 0 to 6 wk of age.  The grower feed should contain 14-16% CP and about 3,000 kcal ME/kg from 6 to 12 wk of age.

To start a flock, feeder lids or plastic feeder trays (one per 50 chicks) should be used. Feed should also be spread on paper placed over the litter, covering 40% of the floor.

Gradually remove the feeder lids or trays, replacing them with the adult feeders. By the time the birds are two weeks (14) days old, all the lids and trays should have been removed. Raise the feeders gradually as the birds grow. Always ensure that the top lip of the feeder is at the same level with the birds' backs. Provide adequate feeder space as recommended below for proper growth of the birds.

They should be fed on 12 to 14% CP & about 3,000 kcal ME/kg from 8 wk of 20 wks. Heavy breeds have a tendency to deposit excess body fat. It is therefore important to restrict feed. Feed daily a controlled amount of a well-balanced diet. Provide adequate feeder space and a rapid even distribution of the diet. It is good practice to feeding once in a day to control fat deposition.  Increase feed intake of pullets when they start laying eggs. It may be necessary to reduce the energy density at 18 to 19 week of age to increase feed intake. Place the birds on a pre-lay program, in which the diet contains about 2% or more Ca. 

Layer hens
Higher concentrations of vitamins (A, D, E, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, and B12 and Mn & Zn is required if the eggs are to be used for hatching. The most limiting amino acid and economical to use are synthetic Met and its analogs. Ca, P, and Vitamin D are important in the diet for egg shell formation.Ca requirement varies with the age, ambient temperature, rate of lay, and egg size. A general recommendation is 3.4 g Ca day and 3.8 g Ca/day after 40 weeks of age. The phosphorus level should range of 0.3 to 0.4 %. Provide adequate vitamin D3 to aid in skeleton development.

Adding grits to the feed can improve feed efficiency slightly. Grits should not be given along finely ground feeds. The grits can be fed in special feeders every 3 weeks, mixed in a complete feed at 0.25% of the diet or sprinkled on top of the feed at a rate of 5 kg per 1,000 hens every week.

Pullets coming into egg production should be given 17 to 19% CP and reduce to 15 to 16% after 3 to 4 months of lay, or at attaining the adult weight. Feed intake decreases as the temperature increases. It may be necessary to increase CP to 18 or 20% when temperature exceeds room temperature over an extended period of time.

Young pullet flocks may respond to additional feed when their production seems to be reaching a plateau. Increase the daily amount by 2kg per 100 birds. If the flock does not respond by the 4th day, return to the amount fed prior to the challenge. When the peak is over and laying curve showing a normal decrease (4 to 6%), reducing the daily feed by ½ kg per 100 birds for a period of 3-4 days. If this results in an abnormal drop in egg production, return immediately to the previous feeding.

The purpose of feeding laying hens is to produce a dozen eggs of good quality at the lowest possible feed cost. For lightweight layers, a target should be a feed efficiency of 3.5 to 4.0 kg or less of feed per dozen eggs.

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Biosecurity Measures in Poultry Rearing

Biosecurity refers to a set of management practices which reduce the potential for the introduction and spread of disease-causing organisms onto and between sites. Biosecurity procedures, particularly cleaning and disinfection, should be combined with vaccination and strategic treatments to either eradicate or reduce these pathogens to non-infectious levels. Some of the strategic measures that could be effected to enhance biosafety in poultry units include:

a)    Location and construction of poultry establishments

  • Suitably isolated geographical location. Consider direction of prevailing winds, location of other poultry establishments, and distance from roads.
  • Adequate drainage away from the site.
  • Avoid building sites near waterways, ponds or lakes utilized by migratory water fowl, and choose well drained areas to avoid standing water.  Birds on range will be susceptible to contamination from wild birds and will attract vermin. 
  • Wherever possible, site poultry houses away from major roads that handle high volumes of poultry vehicles
  • Use smooth impervious materials for effective cleaning and disinfection. Concrete pavements to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
  • Security fence all round to prevent   entry of unwanted animals and people.
  • Post a sign at the entrance of the farm to indicate restricted entry.
  • The housing should used for single species with single purpose and with single age group at a time. If this is not feasible each should be managed as a separate epidemiological unit.
  • Have separate store houses to store eggs and feeds to prevent entry of wild birds, rodents and insects.
  • Use concrete or other impervious materials for poultry houses floors to facilitate cleaning and disinfection.
  • Feed should be delivered into poultry farm outside the security fence.
  • Traceability at all levels of the poultry production chain should be possible.
  • Relevant records of production should be maintained per individual flock e.g. treatment, vaccination, flock history, mortality and disease surveillance data.
  • Free from unwanted vegetation and debris.
  • Controlled access to the farm to ensure only authorized persons and vehicles enter the site.

b)    Hatcheries

  • Enough work flow and space for air circulation. Allow one way flow movement of eggs and day old chicks, and one way air flow in the same direction.
  • Have physical separation of areas used for:

a)    Personnel changing, showering and sanitary facilities
b)    Receipt, storage and transfer of eggs
c)    Incubation
d)    Hatching
e)    Sorting, sexing and placing of day-old birds in boxes
f)    Storage of egg boxes and chick boxes, egg flats, box pads, chemicals and other items
g)    Washing equipment
h)    Waste disposal
i)    Dining facilities for personnel
j)    Office space

  • Relevant records include fertility, hatchability, vaccination and treatment.
  • Records should be readily available for inspection.
  • Dead in shell embryos should be removed from hatcheries as soon as they are found and disposed of in a safe and effective manner.
  • All hatchery waste, garbage and discarded equipment should be contained or at least covered while on site and removed from the hatchery and its environs as soon as possible.
  • After use, hatchery equipment, tables and surfaces should be promptly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with an approved disinfectant.
  • Egg handlers, chick sexers and chick handlers should wash their hands with soap and water before commencing work and between working with batches of hatching eggs or day-old birds from different breeder flocks.
  • Hatching eggs and day-old birds from different breeder flocks should be kept separate during incubation, hatching, sorting and transportation.
  • Day-old birds should be delivered to the farm in new containers or in clean, disinfected containers.

c)    Personnel and visitors

  • Should have training in biosecurity relevant to poultry production and food safety.
  • Visitors and personnel must shower and change into clean clothes and footwear provided by the establishment before carrying out any operatives. Where this is not practical, clean outer garments (coveralls or overalls, hats and footwear) should be provided.
  • Should wash their hands with soap and water and use a properly maintained disinfectant footbath. The disinfectant solution in the footbath should be changed on a regular basis to ensure its efficacy, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Should not have had recent contact with other poultry, poultry waste, or poultry processing plant(s).
  • All visitors should enter on foot.  Use regularly refilled foot dips, charged with a suitable disinfectant
  • Staff movements should be as limited as possible, particularly where the disease situation on a site has deteriorated.
  • All visitors should observe standard operating procedures on vehicle cleansing and disinfection, and protective, farm only clothing should be provided to and used by drivers.
  • All visitors should enter on foot.  Use regularly refilled foot dips, charged with a suitable disinfectant
  • A shower in, shower out facility should also be put in place wherever possible.
  • Control site traffic.  Keep it to a minimum and exclude all unauthorized persons.

d)    Layer-breeder housing.

  • Nest box litter and liners should be kept clean.
  • Hatching eggs should be collected at frequent intervals, at least daily, and placed in a new or clean and disinfected packaging material.
  • Grossly dirty, broken, cracked, or leaker eggs should be collected separately and should not be used as hatching eggs.
  • Hatching eggs should be cleaned and sanitized as soon as possible after collection using an approved sanitizing agent, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Hatching eggs or their packaging materials should be marked to assist traceability and veterinary investigations.
  • The sanitized hatching eggs should be stored in a dedicated room as soon as possible after collection.
  • Storage conditions should minimize the potential for microbial contamination and growth and ensure maximum hatchability. The room should be well ventilated, kept clean, and regularly disinfected using disinfectants approved for this purpose.

Other key Biosecurity measures

1)     Incoming poultry should be from high health status sources, and with a well defined health monitoring and audit procedure for breeder supply flocks.  This should extend to hatchery hygiene procedures with regular microbiological monitoring.
2)    Have on-site incineration to avoid the potential spread of infection from diseased carcasses.
3)    Effective cleaning and disinfection reduces pathogen numbers and the weight of disease challenge, and enhances any biosecurity programme.  It can only be achieved with sufficient turnaround/down time to allow removal of all litter, and to satisfy required contact times for the disinfection products used prior to restocking.  Cleaning and disinfection should include houses, equipment and surroundings.
4)    Use potable drinking water with a low total viable count.  Maintain a closed water system with lids on all header tanks.  At turnaround, clean and disinfect the water system with a suitable product to remove the greasy biofilm that will harbour and protect pathogens.
5)    Treat feed bins and feed delivery systems.  Feed delivered to the site must be of high health status and vermin protected.  Finished feed and stored raw materials should be sampled regularly for salmonella. "High risk" raw materials or sources should not be used.
6)    Check biosecurity procedures regularly.  Use only biosecurity products with independently proven broad spectrum efficacy against viral and bacterial pathogens, and use them according to manufacturers' instructions.
7)    Maintain an effective, audited rodent and wild bird control programme, and prevent entry of poultry houses by vermin through good house design and repair.

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Layer poultry Housing

There are 6 major systems used in housing of layers.

  1. Free range system,
  2. Semi-intensive,
  3. Deep litter,
  4. Slatted or wire floor,
  5. Combination of slatted and deep litter;
  6. Cage or battery system.

Free Range Systems
Birds have access to an outdoor area during the day. This area may be covered or uncovered. The farmer provides an indoor area where they come in at nights and are able to roost.

Hens which are free ranged have the greatest range of natural behavior and hence have better feather condition when compared to the other housing systems. The main disadvantage is hens are exposed to toxins, wild bird diseases, predators and extreme climatic conditions.

Semi-intensive poultry housing systems
They are commonly used by small scale producers .They are characterized by having one or more pens in which the birds can forage on natural vegetation and insects to supplement the feed supplied. The farmer should provide at least two runs for alternating use to avoid build up of disease and parasites. Each run should allow at least 10 to 15m2 per hen and be fenced. A free-range allowing 40 to 80m2 per hen is required where the hens are expected to obtain a substantial part of their diet by foraging.

Small simple poultry house
The house allows 0.3 to 0.4m2 per bird. It has thatched roof, a littered earth floor and slatted or chicken wire walls on at least three sides to provide protection from rough weather, from predators at night and offer shade in the day time. The shelter should be large enough to enter to collect eggs and be equipped with nest boxes, feeders, drinkers and perches. For convenience the house should be situated so that access to each of the runs can be provided with small outlet doors.

A shelter for roosting and lying can be used in combination with daytime foraging by the hens. The legs of this structure have rat guards (keeps off rats) and ant protection and may be equipped with skids or wheels to make the whole unit easily movable between runs. Feed and water are provided in troughs outside the house.

This system is low in cost, but growth of the birds and egg production are likely to be less than with systems offering closer confinement and better feed. Losses may be encountered by birds of prey and from failure to find eggs laid in bushy areas. The poultry run requires a considerable amount of fencing.
Fold unit

A fold unit is a house and run combined, having part of it covered with chicken wire and the remainder with solid walls. The unit should allow 0.5m2 per bird and must be moved each day over an area of grassland. A unit 6 by 1.5m will take 16 to 18 birds. For larger flocks several such units are required.

Portable units are generally more expensive than permanent houses and may decay quickly because of contact with the ground. Hens have reasonable protection against bird of prey and rough weather and parasites if the unit is not returned to the same area within 30 days.

Deep litter housing system
In this system the birds are kept in litter floor. Feed, water and nest are provided inside the house. Fresh and suitable litter materials spread on the floor include: paddy husk, saw dust, ground nut hulls, chopped paddy straw or wood shavings .The litter material is of about 3to 5 inches depth. The litter saves labour involved in frequent cleaning of fecal matter (droppings), however it needs periodical stirring replacement. The litter is spread on the floor in layers of 2” height every fortnightly till the required drying is achieved.

The birds are confined and well protected. Has low masonry walls set on a concrete floor and wire mesh on the upper part of the walls.  The building excludes rats and birds.

Rough cast and other materials can be used for the walls. The house can be designed up to 9m in width and any length that is needed. The density of birds is approximately 4 to 5 birds/m2 of floor area.

As an advantage of this system, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B12 are made available to birds from the litter material as a result of the bacterial action. The deep litter is used for manure on disposal .There is lesser irritation from flies when compared to cage system.

Since there is direct contact between bird and litter, bacterial and parasitic disease may be a problem. Respiratory problems may arise due to dust from the litter. The cost of litter is an added expense on production cost. Error in ventilation can have more serious consequences than in the cage system.

Slatted or wire floor housing system
Wire mesh or wooden slatted floors are used instead of deep litter. The house can be built on treated wooden piers 0.8 to 1m above the ground. Ventilation and manure removal are both facilitated and bird density can be 6 to 8 per m2.

A thatch roof or corrugated iron roof may be used with the roof space about 1.5m above the floor. Some insulation under the roof is required.
The feed troughs should be equipped with hinged covers and rat guards should be installed at the top of each pier. The width of this type of building should be limited to about 2m to allow easy removal of manure and adequate wall space for feeders and nests.

The building should be oriented east and west and may be of any length. However, if it is more than 5m long, nests will need to be put on the sides and all remaining wall space on either side used for feeders in order to allow the required 100mm/bird.

If using a slatted floor made sufficiently strong for a person to walk on, then a wider building is possible as feeders can be placed completely inside where the chickens have access to both sides of the trough. The floor is sectioned for easy removal during cleaning out of manure. This type of houses is cooler than other types, but the building cost is high and management is more complicated.

Combination of slatted floor and deep litter
A combination of deep litter and slatted floor house, offers some advantage over simple deep litter house, but with some increase in investment. Approximately half of the floor area is covered with small gum pole boards or with wire mesh. This area is raised above the concrete floor 0.5m or more so that cleaning under the slatted portion may be done from the outside. Waterers and feeders are placed on the slatted area. This type of house is limited in width to 3 to 4m so that feeders and waterers can be handled from the litter area and manure beneath the slatted area can be easily removed from the outside without moving the slats or disturbing the birds. Although this system entails added expenses for materials and labour to install the boards/slats, the bird density can be increased to 5 to 7 per m2, so there is little difference in the cost per bird.

This system saves on litter, increases litter life, reduces contact between birds and manure, and allows manure removal without disturbing the hens. Ventilation is improved due to the slatted floor. Possibly the biggest disadvantage is the limited width for convenient operation and the need for some litter.
In medium to large scale houses of this type the slatted floor must be made removable in sections and at least part of it made strong to walk on. This will result into increased building cost and a more complicated management. The house shown has slats over 2/3 of the floor area. This is generally considered maximum for this type of house and allows for stocking density of up to 8 birds per m2. Automatic tube feeders are placed on the slatted floor. One such feeder, with a bottom diameter of 0.6m can serve for 60 to 75 birds, depending on size of breed.

The water troughs are suspended from the ceiling. The nest boxes are doubled by arranging them back to back and have one end resting on the slatted floor and the other suspended from the ceiling. Egg collection can be facilitated by use of a trolley, which is supported on a rail just below the ceiling. Cleaning out between batches can be done by a spade, if all furnishings and part of the end walls are made removable.
Cage or battery systems
In cage system poultry are reared on raised wire netting floor in smaller compartments, called cages, which could be fitted with stands on floor of house or hanged from the roof. It has been shown to be very efficient for laying operations, right from day-old to disposal. Currently, 75% of commercial layers in the world are kept in cages. They consist of rows of stairs-step cages in long narrow shelters. The thatch roof or insulated metal roof shelter can be completely open on the sides with perhaps some canvas curtains in areas where cold winds are experienced. The building should be oriented east and west and designed to provide shade for the cages near the ends.

A 3.4 metre length will allow for four cages without overlap and passageway of about 0.9m. While cleaning is easily achieved on a concrete floor, smooth hard soil is less expensive and quite satisfactory. A little loose sand or other litter spread on the soil before the manure collects will make manure removal easier. The building posts should be treated with wood preservative and well-built enough to support the cages. Rat guard should be installed on the posts at a height of 0.8 to 1m. A central passage, raised 20cm and cast of concrete is easily cleaned and keeps manure from encroaching on the work area. Feeding and egg collecting are easily done by hand or with an automatic system. Ensure that watering trough is carefully adjusted so that all birds receive water. The simplest method of supplying water automatically or by hand at one end is to slope the entire building and row of cages 10mm/3m of length.

Feeders and waterers are attached to cages from outside except nipple waterers, for which pipeline is installed through or above cages. Auto-operated feeding trolleys and egg collection belts can also be used in this rearing system. The droppings are either collected in trays underneath cages or on belts or on the floor or deep pit under cages, depending on type of cages.

Cage types that are equipped with pans to catch the manure are not advocated because they restrict ventilation. Previously used cages should be considered only if they are of suitable design, and have been carefully inspected for condition prior to purchasing.

Cage system needs minimum floor space. It is possible to collect more number of eggs per hen. There is less feed wastage and better feed efficiency. The system provides protection from internal parasites and soil borne illnesses. Sick and unproductive birds can be easily identified and isolated. Clean eggs production. Vices of egg eating, pecking among others is minimal. Broodiness is also minimal. No need of litter material. Artificial Insemination (AI) can be adopted.
The system incurs high initial investment cost. Also handling of manure may be problem. Flies become a greater nuisance. The incidence of blood spots in egg is high. The poultry develop problem of cage layer fatigue. (Laying birds in cages develop lameness. It may be due to Ca and P deficiency but the exact reason is unknown).

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Regional Conference on Sustainable Improvement of Indigenous Chicken Productivity

Improving Indigenous Chicken Productivity for Health and Wealth
9th – 10th September, 2015
Egerton University, Kenya

The conference provided a forum for agricultural researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in Africa and beyond to actively engage and exchange findings and experiences while at the same time learning lessons towards sustainably improving the  performance of IC and ultimately the livelihoods of those dependent on this vital resource. During the conference, several papers were presented to give stakeholders an opportunity to reflect on the progress made so far and to strategize on options to fast track IC value chain development.

 Some of the papers presented at the conference are as follows categorized in four major sub-theme:-

Sub-theme: Social Economics and Production Systems of Indigenous Chicken
Chair: Prof. Timothy Gondwe
Oral presentations


Sub-theme: Genetics, Genomics and Breeding
Chair: Dr. Chrilukovian Wasike


Day Two: Thursday, 10th September 2015
Sub-theme: Feeding, Nutrition and Food Safety
Chair: Dr. Thomas Muasya
Oral presentations


Sub-theme: Innovative technologies
Chair: Dr. Saidu Oseni
Oral presentations

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Evaluation of Growth Performance of the “Kuchi” Ecotype

Kuchi is one of the Kenyan IC ecotypes mainly found in Lamu County and the neighboring coastal regions where it has been kept for a long time.

It is believed to have been introduced by merchants from Asia particularly Japan who inhabited the region some years back. This ecotype is common in Tanzania where studies have shown its superiority in growth traits compared to other ecotypes.

It could therefore be a good starting material for genetic improvement in body weight. Unlike other IC ecotypes, very few studies have been done on Kuchi in Kenya.

Molecular studies carried out within the InCIP project have characterized the various ecotypes in Kenya into clusters and Kuchi was found to uniquely belong to its own cluster, indicating its genetic distinctiveness from the rest of the chicken population in Kenya.

This further shows the need to study the Kuchi bird. Due to the findings in Tanzania, many farmers are now starting to utilize Kuchi for meat production in Kenya ignorant of its genetic attributes.

The ecotype has recently been introduced in Elgeyo Marakwet County from Lamu and preliminary performance indicates its superiority in meat production.

It is important to understand the Kuchi growth patterns and its growth genetics in order to design breeding program for its genetic improvement for increased productivity.

Mr. George Lihare a Masters student in Animal Breeding and Genetics at Egerton University, Department of Animal Sciences has undertaken a study to contribute to improved production efficiency of Kenyan IC through genetic analysis of growth patterns of the Kuchi ecotype.

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Evaluation of IC Meat and Egg Composition Quality

Indigenous Chicken products are generally perceived to be more preferred by the consumers due to several desirable characteristics. However, continuous supply of good quality IC meat to a wider market remains a challenge. There is limited scientific information on processing system that would guarantee farmers supply of safe and high quality IC meat to consumers.

InCIP has initiated a study to evaluate meat and egg composition quality from indigenous chicken. The study by Mr Bernard Oloo, a PhD student of Food Science and Technology at Egerton University, Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology aims to develop a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for processing Kenyan IC meat to ensure a reliable supply of safe IC meat that satisfies a wider market both locally and internationally.

The system will be able to guarantee IC product safety. The study will then evaluate the quality and safety of the IC meat processed under HACCP with the view to gaining a deeper understanding of how these characteristics contribute to the perceived consumer preference of the IC’s meat from the different clusters.

The study will also look at the effect of IC rearing method on the safety and quality of the IC meat processed under the HACCP plan. This will lead to a better understanding of their attributes and how to exploit such attributes to improve market access and fair pricing for these IC. The proposal for this study has been accepted by the graduate school and the preliminary data collection is expected to kick off from the month of January the Year 2015.

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Livestock Feeds Production at Egerton University

Njoro women’s group in Nakuru County has been rearing poultry for commercial purposes for the past five years. Currently, on farm, they have about 1000 hybrid layers which were obtained as day old chicks from a hatchery and reared to sexual maturity for egg production.

The group has been sourcing feeds from different feed companies due to issues concerned with consistency in feed quality and costs. As a result, they have been experiencing fluctuations in egg production and this has greatly affected their returns.

An important point that must be understood by poultry farmers is that, lack of consistency in quality of feeds can adversely affect egg production. Therefore, when sourcing for feeds, it is advisable to maintain a single source unless otherwise.

This is because of the variation in quality that exists between different feed companies which is likely to affect livestock productivity.

Egerton University has incorporated animal feed production into its programmes, branded as Egerton Feeds, to help farmers deal with the problem of inconsistency and unreliability in feed quality and supply, as well as cost; Thanks to InCIP.

The feed processing unit has teamed up with researchers in animal nutrition, from the Department of Animal Sciences in order to formulate feed rations using appropriate ingredients and in required proportions.

In addition, extensive proximate analysis is carried out on raw materials and final processed feeds in the highly equipped animal nutrition laboratory at Egerton University.

The purpose of this is to ensure that they produce feeds of high quality and maintain these standards that will guarantee optimum returns to the farmer.

Egerton Feeds produces feeds for various categories of livestock;

  1. Dairy cattle and goats
  2. Poultry
    • Layer chicken (Chick mash, Growers mash, Layers mash) • Broiler chicken (Broiler starter and Broiler finisher)
    • Kienyeji chicken (Kienyeji mash – to be used as supplement if kienyeji chicken are raised on free-range)
    • Quails – egg production (Quail chick mash, growers mash and layers mash)
    • Quails – meat production (Quail starter mash and finisher mash)
  3. Pigs (Sow-weaner meal)
  4. Rabbits (Pellets)
  5. Fish (Pellets)

Each of these livestock produce different products which require different nutrients at specific proportions, therefore, Egerton Feeds has focused on using tested raw materials to produce their feeds so as to ensure high productivity from the animals.

The feeds are packaged in 50kg, 20kg, 10kg and 5kg bag to suit different levels of farmers. Farmers also have the privilege to acquire animal feeds at a cheaper price and still be assured of good quality at the end of the day.

An additional benefit of Egerton Feeds is that it has a technical farm advisor who provides extension services to farmers on animal nutrition, feeds and feeding aspects. Our esteemed customers include small-scale farmers, large-scale farms and companies who are generally satisfied and keep on returning for more.

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Principal Investigator's Desk

It is with great joy and feeling of accomplishment as we look at what we have achieved so far. This newsletter is a manifestation of what we have accomplished, what we are doing and what we are yet but certain to accomplish.

InCIP solutions which target four main development areas ensure that we not only link with all stakeholders in the indigenous chicken value chain, but also bring them on board to share their knowledge, experiences, challenges and opportunities.

We pride ourselves in having made huge steps in empowering indigenous chicken farmers, developing capacity and supporting policy. It is indeed great to know that InCIP has joined hands with Nyama World and Farmers Union of Malawi to promote formal marketing of indigenous chicken.

InCIP has also been integrated by Innovations for The Livestock Industry (iLINOVA) programme with the purpose of promoting the creation, updating and utilization of technologies along the IC value chain. In addition, InCIP is playing a major role in disseminating IC technologies to farmers.

What remains in our mind is the fact that we are not limited by our challenges but inspired by what we can achieve. I applaud us for our efforts as we continue to accomplish our tasks. Please take some time to read this issue of the newsletter to get a grasp of what we have achieved up to this quarter.

We hope our newsletter gets a wider readership to enhance adoption of our outputs. You can also get a copy of the newsletter online and help us circulate it widely.

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Analysis of Farm Level Efficiency Among Smallholder Indigenous Chicken Farmers: A Case of Bomet County, Kenya

Bomet CountyIndigenous chicken production has been advocated in alleviation of poverty as well as a source of food. There have been concerted efforts towards improving indigenous chicken production to make it more profitable and sustainable especially for smallholder farmers. Despite the improvement programs such as crossbreeding with commercial layers and broilers, formulation of feeds specifically meant for indigenous chicken, production has remained relatively low, and some farmers realize dismal profits if not losses. The production efficiency and/or inefficiency have not been empirically established with the influence of socioeconomic factors not well studied. Mr. George Kamau Gitau an MSc. Student at Egerton University is analysing farm level efficiency among smallholder IC farmers. The study is being carried out in Bomet County, Kenya.

The overall objective of the study is to contribute to efficiency of IC production through determination of profitability, socioeconomic factors and marketing channels influencing production among smallholder farmers in Bomet County. The specific objective includes determining resource use efficiency, determining return to scale of indigenous chicken, determining the influence of socioeconomic factors on farm level efficiency and determining the influence of marketing channels on choice of indigenous chicken production system. The study employs a stochastic frontier model to determine the technical, economic and allocative efficiency of indigenous chicken production. A profit function is used to determine the cost and return to farmers.A linear Tobit regression model is used to analyze the effect of socio-economic factors on the technical efficiency of the farmer. Likert scaling is used to assess the perception of farmers on which marketing channel influences their choice of IC production system. The frequency of the responses is determined using descriptive statistics.

In the study decision to choose a poultry production system is hypothesized to be influenced by farm characteristics, farmers’ socioeconomic characteristics, institutional support services and marketing channels.  The outcome  of  each  of  the  decision  is then  expressed  as  a  computed  profitability   of  the  chosen poultry  production  system.  The profitability  then  describes  the  efficiency  of  a  poultry  production  system  and  therefore  the hypothesis, the more profitable a system is the more efficient it is and the more efficient it is the more profitable it is. The farmers’ socioeconomic characteristics  of interest will be age and gender  of the household head,  level  of  education,  experience  in  poultry  keeping  and  off  farm  income.  The  age  of  the farmer  is  hypothesized  to  negatively  influence  production  efficiency. This is because older farmers are likened to be risk adverse making them late adopters of better technologies.

Gender is hypothesized to negatively influence production efficiency for female farmers due to challenges of accessing information and resources such as land.  Years of schooling is expected to have mixed results. Educated farmers understand the benefits of improved technologies and are faster in adopting them, therefore, enhancing production efficiency.  On  the  other  hand,  they  may engage  in  other  income  generating  activities  paying  less  attention  to  farming  activities,  and therefore,  reducing production efficiency. Experience in poultry farming is expected to have a positive influence on production efficiency.  Experienced farmers are able to make rational decisions regarding production compared to the less experienced. Off-farm income is expected to have  a  positive  influence  on  production  efficiency  this  is  because  the  farmer  has  a  regular income to purchase inputs and take care of accidental expenses.

The farm characteristics will include the size of the land holding, hired and household labour expenditure. Land  size is  hypothesized  to  positively  influence  production  efficiency  due  to  the  expected economies  of  scale.  Household  labour  is  expected  to  have  a  positive  influence  on  production efficiency since the cost of labour will be saved while hired labour is expected to have a negative influence.  The  institutional  support  provided  will  include  group  membership,  availability  and  access  to extension  services  and  access  to  credit.  The institutional support provided is hypothesized to have a positive influence.  Extension services will provide information on better methods and improved technologies. Access to credit will provide farmers with funds to purchase inputs and pay for services.  Group  membership  will  facilitate  farmers  to  save,  market  their  produce  and cater for their social welfare. The preferred marketing channels are hypothesized to have mixed results.  Local assemblers points are expected to contribute to efficiency.  This market channel is consistent and the marketing costs are likely to be minimized and farmers are likely to intensify their production. Farm gate, open air markets and farmer sourced outlets are inconsistent and likely to increase the marketing costs and farmers are less likely to intensify their production.

The expected output of this study is a thesis for the award of a Master’s degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics, a conference paper and publication of two papers in refereed journals. The information generated will be relevant to all stakeholders in IC production in improving the production with the ultimate goal being raising the living standards of farmers through improved incomes.

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