Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

Supporting Farmers

Technical constraints to poultry development

11 min read

Image result for poultry farming
Most farmers when starting out including myself ,when I started, I had no clue what to do or how to do it.I was at the goodwill of the man above.
You should not go through this yourself  that is why we are hear for you.
The most common family poultry  flock size of between 5 to 20 birds seems to be the limit that can be kept by a family without special inputs in terms of feeding, housing and labour.
These small flocks scavenge sufficient feed in the surroundings of the homestead to survive and to reproduce.
Any significant increase in flock size often leads to malnutrition if no feed supplement is provided. In addition, larger flock sizes must forage at greater distances, which may involve damage to neighbors’ vegetable gardens and that is not a situation you want to be in, solving issues that your chicken ate the neighbors  kales.
Any move from you to fence in or enclose the poultry then involves the need to provide a balanced ration.
Larger flock sizes can easily arise once mortality is reduced through vaccination and improved hygiene.
Flock size can rapidly increase to the point where the feed requirement exceeds the available Scavengable Feed Resource Base (SFRB) in the area around the dwelling. At this stage, either supplementary feeding or a semi-intensive system of management is required.
If balanced feed, day-old hybrid chick and vaccine input supplies (and markets) are available and well organized, and then intensive poultry management systems may be a viable option.
There have been many attempts to take short cuts to development and to start immediately with the semi-intensive system.


Newcastle disease (ND) constitutes the most serious epizootic poultry disease in the world, particularly in developing countries.
No progress has been made in controlling Newcastle Disease  in freeranging village flocks, which represent more than 80 percent of the total poultry population. Several recent surveys in Africa showed high rates of seropositivity in the absence of vaccination.
In developing countries, Newcastle Disease  occurs every year and kills an average of 70 to 80 percent of the unvaccinated village hens (Branckaert et al., 2000). It is very difficult to organize vaccination campaigns covering free-range birds.
The main constraints are:
x the difficulty of grouping together an adequately large number of birds in order to obtain an efficient vaccination rate;
x the possibility of disease cross-contamination arising from birds of various ages being raised together; and
x the difficulty of maintaining an efficient cold chain for proper vaccine quality preservation.
Image result for poultry farming
Diseases make poultry production a risky venture. Family poultry producers using the free-range extensive system acknowledge this risk, and reduce its impact on the household economy by having small flocks.
Newcastle Disease is a major disease problem for all family poultry producers wherever the disease exists. Vaccination of the flock against Newcastle Diseases  is very important and provides a basis for further development.
It is worth repeating that the reluctance of farmers to invest in poultry production is not due to a lack of resources but to the risk of disease outbreaks and mortality.
Killer diseases like Newcastle Disease regularly decimate village flocks. In traditional farming systems, farmers often live close to the survival limit, so they naturally avoid risks. Minimizing risk ranks higher than increasing output. A key component of family poultry development is the control of the most important diseases. Regular vaccination is a prerequisite for any improvement in family poultry production.
Although the control of Newcastle Disease is the key constraint, there are other disease constraints, which rise in importance as soon as higher-ranking constraints are eliminated.
Many poultry development projects have failed because only one constraint was  tackled or, when more than one constraint was considered, the importance of other problems was poorly understood. Many projects concentrated either on disease control or on genetic improvement.poultry-antibiotics-ban-mcdonalds
There is no doubt that vaccination reduces mortality, but in one particular project, in certain periods, mortality due to predation was as high as 70 percent and the effect of vaccination was further negated by a secondary constraint of poor housing (Bourzat and Saunders, 1987).
Generally, the costs of an isolated vaccination campaign cannot be justified unless actions to improve housing and feeding are also taken.


Predators such as snakes, rats, dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons, humans  and birds of prey represent the main causes of predator losses, especially in young birds. Human beings can also represent another important predator for adult birds.
Proper shelter should be constructed using locally available materials, and predators should be trapped, hunted or repelled by specific plants (Branckaert e. al., 2000). For example, in Nigeria, sliced garlic (Allium sativum) is placed around poultry houses to repel snakes.
Analysis of mortality in family poultry flocks in Thailand (Thitisak, 1992) showed that the first four months of life are critical for the growing chicks. The mortality of chicks during this period often rose to 60 percent (Matthewman, 1977) even in flocks vaccinated for Newcastle Disease.
In Africa, while various other diseases such as Salmonellosis or coccidiosis affected the chicks during the first two months of age , the most important cause of mortality between two and four months of age was predation, by dogs, cats, hawks and snakes, which caused up to 70 percent mortality (Bourzat and Saunders, 1987).
Overnight housing is an important way to reduce this loss, and can utilize locally available materials of reasonable cost.
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Feed is also an input of major concern and the supply of adequate feed supplement is critical. The nutrient intake of scavenging birds varies from place to place according to the seasons, the crops grown and the natural vegetation available.
In field experiments, feed supplements, including household waste (cooked potatoes, yams or cassava tubers), and oilseed cakes, have a positive effect on egg production and body weight of scavenging birds.
Careful attention should be given to ensuring adequate feed resources. Feed represents 60 to 80 percent of the input cost in the intensive commercial poultry sector.
In Low Income, Food Deficient Countries (LIFDCs), a surplus of cereals is generally not available. It is therefore not advisable to develop a wholly grain-based feeding system. The recommended policy is to identify and use locally available feed resources to formulate diets that are as balanced as possible (Branckaert . et al., 2000).
Full ad libitum feeding of a balanced ration is essential for poultry intensively managed in confinement, even on a small scale.
The usual recommendation is for commercially manufactured feed, but many farmers find it too costly and not in regular supply. The byproducts of processing of local crops (brans, and oil and seed cakes) can be used as both energy and protein sources   but on their own cannot make a balanced ration.
More research is needed on local feed resources as sources of trace elements, minerals and vitamins, especially from leaves, fruits, algae, fungi and other available materials. However, even with this knowledge, the skills of a well-equipped and experienced nutritionist are needed to formulate least-cost balanced rations.

Breeding (genetic potential)

Indigenous or local breeds are generally raised in family poultry production systems. These birds are exposed to natural selection from the environment for hardiness, running and flight skills, but not for egg production.
Hens are thus poor layers, but good mothers (except for guinea hens). When farmers contemplate the adoption of a more intensive poultry production system, they are eager to purchase more productive birds.
There is a need to find the best method to provide them with such birds, and the options are:
x to supply hybrid strains, which requires the presence of well-managed hatchery facilities and (grand) parent stock, or
x to supply pure-bred breeds, which allows the farmer to renew his flock and to remain independent from external suppliers. Unfortunately, pure-bred breeds are becoming more difficult and more expensive to purchase, and produce fewer eggs than hybrids. (Branckaert et al., 2000).
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Improvement has been considered a high priority in poultry development projects. Usually vaccination programs are carried out during genetic upgrading programs, but feed supply to the improved birds has not received sufficient attention. Thus it has not been possible to exploit the superior genetic potential of the improved birds.


Poultry products in most developing countries, especially in Africa, are still expensive. The marketing system is generally informal and poorly developed.
Unlike eggs and meat from commercial hybrid birds (derived from imported stock), local consumers generally prefer those from indigenous stocks. The existence of a local market offering good sales opportunities and adequate transport facilities are obvious prerequisites for family poultry development.
As most consumers with greater purchasing power live in and around cities, intensification of poultry production should be initiated in peri-urban areas or, at least, in areas having a good road network.
Traditional dealers and middlemen, who collect eggs and birds from the villages, facilitate the marketing of family poultry products in most developing countries.
Such traditional marketing structures are often overlooked, bypassed or criticized. There has been a regrettable tendency in some countries to use government extension services or parastatals  to market family poultry products. This practice should be discouraged as it is not sustainable.

Farmer organizations

Organizing family poultry, farmers  it’s not an easy task, for several reasons. Flock sizes are small and birds are maintained with minimal land, labour and capital inputs. Thus farmers generally consider family poultry a secondary activity compared with other agricultural activities.
Nevertheless, it is essential to develop producer groups, which give members easier access to essential inputs (such as feed, improved breeds, medicine, vaccines and technical advice) and to credit, training, transportation and the marketing of poultry products.
Producer groups also encourage more educated people to initiate family poultry  farming as a secondary activity (conducted at the family level using medium-sized flocks), as well as facilitating the development of associated activities such as market gardening, which can utilize poultry manure and help to reduce or remove household waste and pests.
Farmers should be allowed to develop the market structures most suitable for them. Often women’s groups prove to be effective in marketing eggs along with other products at local markets. Such groups should be encouraged and supported if they exist, but their establishment solely for family poultry may be unnecessary and unviable.

Case study

In a case study in the region of Niamey, Niger , it was shown that smallholdings (less than 20 hens) of layers, which were situated beyond 2.5 km from a main paved road, could supply eggs and meat to the city market at competitive prices. Villages much farther from the main routes could supply live birds competitively but not eggs.
Eggs are not an important food item at the village level, as it is a relatively high-priced protein food, and thus marketing may require cooperative efforts by producers to transport eggs to larger towns.
Possibilities for this include using existing commercial trading channels or opening new channels such as those through producer associations, cooperatives, women’s groups or young farmer associations.
The establishment of specialized poultry production cooperatives has proved difficult in many places, and socio-economic factors play an important part in this.

Training and management

As was emphasized at the beginning, technical skills need to be considered at both farmer and extension officer levels.
Training is essential in the areas of disease control, housing, equipment, feeding, genetic improvement and marketing.
A basic knowledge of specific features of poultry anatomy and physiology is also important, to provide a basis for understanding the above topics. Housing and management could be improved through appropriate farmer training, preferably conducted on-farm. Local craftsmen could be trained to manufacture small equipment, such as feeders and drinkers.
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6 thoughts on “Technical constraints to poultry development

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