Assessing The Productivity Of Indigenous Chicken In Southern Nyanza, Kenya
The aim of the study was to determine the productivity and; product output per unit input in a given time frame, productivity constraints of indigenous chickens under village management conditions and to recommend specific intervention to improve productivity and sustainability of small-scale indigenous chicken production. Productivity of an animal can be defined as Product output per animal unit per unit time e.g. eggs per hen per year or product output per unit of input e.g. live weight gain per kilogram of feed or the value of product output per unit input in monetary terms. The study was conducted in three phases in Komolorume and Kawere villages in Rongo and Rachuonyo districts respectively. Firstly, a rapid rural appraisal (RRA) was carried out in October 2007 to rank and prioritise the productivity constraints of the indigenous chickens. The second phase was a cross-sectional study conducted in 81 households from late October to November 2007 to determine the indigenous chicken production baseline data and to triangulate some of the RRA findings. A four-month prospective observational study lastly followed from November 2007 to end of February 2008 to monitor the productivity indicators, which included clutch and flock sizes, hatchability rates, egg and live body weights and body weight gain and chick survival rates. The data was obtained by actual measurement, on spot observation, interview of household members directly responsible for care of chickens and community group discussions. Diseases were ranked as the most important constraint to indigenous chicken production. The important diseases identified in order of importance were Newcastle (ND), fowl typhoid, Gumboro and fowl pox. Predation of the chicks by birds of prey (eagles and craws) and animals including mongoose, wild dogs and cats ranked second most important. Other important constraints were scarcity of feed and poor housing, animal health care and breeding selection. The mean flock sizes were 20 birds and 18 birds per household for Komolorume and Kawere villages respectively. The overall mean flock size for the two study villages was 19 birds per household with a range of 1-64. The mean clutch size, egg weight and hatchability were 12 eggs, 48 g and 80 % respectively in Komolorume village and 10 eggs, 46g and 70 respectively in Kawere village. Chick survival rates to the age of eight weeks were 13 % and 10 % for Komolorume and Kawere villages, respectively. Mean live weights for cocks and hens were 2096 g and 1599 g for Komolorume village and 2071 g and 1482 g for Kawere village, respectively. The mean cock to hen ratio per household was 2:5 in Komolorume and 2:4 in Kawere. The mean growth rates to the age of 10 weeks were 4.3 and 4.7 g/day for female and male chicks in Komolorume village and 3.8 and 4.3 g/day for female and male chicks in Kawere village, respectively. These parameters indicate low productivity, which is typical of the extensive management of the indigenous chicken production. The results of this study indicate that indigenous chicken production is an important undertaking in southern Nyanza and largely contribute to household income and protein malnutrition alleviation. Women controlled most of the activities related to the daily management of the birds. The major production system was free-range whereby the birds got much of their own food through scavenging with irregular and inconsistent supplementation (mostly cereal grains) and housing mainly provided at night in human dwellings. Strategies that will improve housing, feeding, disease control and breeding will be able to improve the indigenous chicken production in southern Nyanza. The study further noted the importance of using integrated study approaches (qualitative and quantitative) in the assessment of the indigenous chicken production and production constraints. The involvement of farmers in all stages of the study led to high level of interest and 100% response rate among respondents.
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