Is there a Kenyan homestead you will visit and not find poultry? Probably not whether a farmer or not poultry is part of a complete homestead majority of locals will say and is reared for either consumption, commercialization or both. The indigenous chicken (IC) production is an important agricultural activity in many households, it constitutes 80% of the total poultry population in Kenya. This enterprise remains the most important in majority of rural resource-poor households particularly in semi-arid districts (such as Makueni) where it significantly contributes to household income, food and nutrition security. Despite its importance, very little research has been carried to enhance its productivity. Prof. Lucy Kabuage an animal production specialist at the Department of Agricultural Resource Management in the School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development in Kenyatta University was awarded a competitive research grant by the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Programme (KAPAP) for a 3 year project entitled ‘Enhancing Indigenous Chicken Value Chain (ICVC) for higher productivity and bio-secure products in Makueni’, under the broader Meats Value Chain project entitled ‘Developing reforms for promoting Arid and Semi-Arid Land communities in drought mitigation and maximization of livestock resources for improved livelihoods through strategic linkages’.
‘The indigenous chicken (IC) production is an important agricultural activity in many households, it constitutes 80% of the total poultry population in Kenya”.
An old Chicken House
Model Indigenous Chicken House
As a starting point, Prof. Kabuage and her team carried out an analysis on the marketing efficiency of the indigenous chicken market with the aim of making policy recommendations to support its value chain. Drawing of the value chain and survey was conducted involving all the actors across the chain this revealed a number of constraints, the most critical was small flock sizes of birds per household. Key interventions were required, particularly capacity building for farmers (and for other actors along the chain), and implementation of technologies to enhance flock sizes, productivity and quality, for sustained supply to competitive markets.
The ICVC team then embarked on implementation of identified interventions. Stakeholder collaboration and dissemination was initiated. A local entrepreneur with an incubator was used to hatch and distribute improved indigenous chicks to local farmers within the project common interest groups (CIGs). Data for the distributed chicks was collected up to the laying phase to provide baseline information on performance of improved ecotype chicks at farm level efforts of the first call
Deepening and Up-scaling of Intervention
Building on the intervention strategies laid out on the first call, the team which secured further during the 2nd Call is now focusing on the following i) Poultry nutrition, feeds and feeding; ii) Indigenous Chicken breed improvement; iii) Improved health and housing for Indigenous Chicken; iv) Indigenous Chicken marketing and value addition
Achievements of 2nd Call Research: The interventions
Establishing improved parent stock: The project has distributed 2000 one month old, high quality improved indigenous chicks to 88 project nucleus farmers and 112 satellite smallholder farmers in Makueni County. The project aims to further distribute over 3000 chicks.
Improved housing and flock management: Three indigenous chicken model houses have been constructed in Makueni County, at Wote and Salama study sites. Some farmers have been trained on proper housing, bio-security and poultry health using the model house at Salama site. Many farmers have improved their IC structures.
“Farmers have been trained in flock management, breeding and brooding practices, disease and parasite control. Also, Indigenous Chicken housing, bio-security and chicken feed production”
An old Chicken House
Improved feeding: Some of the project farmers have been trained on feeding their indigenous chicken on balanced feed supplements, formulated and mixed on-farm at the Wote site. The training used feed ingredients such as sorghum grown by the farmers. Planting seeds for both sorghum and sunflower, and fertilizer were distributed to the farmers to plant for feed production. It is planned that sunflower seed will be extracted for edible oil for sale and sunflower cake for Indigenous Chicken feed, once the oil extractor is procured. These activities will ensure a consistent supply of feed raw materials and oil for household use and for sale.
Farmer training: The project has trained some of the farmers on: flock management, breeding and brooding practices, disease and parasite control. Also, Indigenous Chicken housing, bio-security and chicken feed production.
What next Professor?
“We have achieved tremendous results since we initiated this project and the feedback from the beneficiaries and the actual work on the ground has been rewarding, but we are not stopping there” said Professor Kabuage. We can achieve far more the activities that are planned under the project include
• Distribution of more chicks to the satellite farmers in Salama.
• Plans are underway to procure a manual feed mixer for the Salama site and an oil extractor for extracting sunflower seed grown by farmers, to yield seed cake for use in feed production and edible oil for household consumption and income.
• Training activities: More Farmers will undergo training on various technologies for production and marketing key areas to be covered include feed formulation and mixing, flock management, breeding and brooding management and Indigenous Chicken housing improvement using the model houses.
o More vaccines and Indigenous Chicken drugs will be procured for further training on disease control.
• Marketing activities: Linking farmers to markets and to Indigenous Chicken service providers to ensure continuity after close of project
o Promoting plastic crates for Indigenous Chicken transport to encourage humane method of transport of the chicken
Training of post-graduate students conducting Indigenous Chicken marketing surveys; nutritional Indigenous Chicken feeding trials evaluating different feedstuffs Indigenous Chicken biosafety trials and lab analysis of feed and carcass samples
8 graduate students have also benefitted from Professor Kabuage’s Project.
Links to publications that have resulted from the project.
Prof. Lucy Kabuage; PI, Indigenous Chicken Value Chain (ICVC) Project
Department of Agricultural Resource Management
School of Agriculture and Enterprise Development