Know the right type of chicken to rear for profit
Many farmers rush to buy new chicken breeds coming into the market without knowing their qualities only to end up with regrets and losses. Poultry keeping is now one of the most popular agribusiness enterprises that many people in Kenya want to go into.
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However, many farmers rush into it without the most basic information on how they can do it the right way. The quail fiasco two years ago no doubt left many farmers with empty pockets when they made huge investments in quail rearing leading to glut in the market and a fall in prices.
Many farmers do not seem to have learnt a lesson.
Currently, there are a lot of rumours, and misguided exaggerations about new chicken breeds that are said to do much better than local indigenous breeds in production, enticing farmers to spend a lot of their money in search of the breeds which they only learnt about in newspaper articles and adverts. In this issue, we would like to shed light on the breeds available in the country and their qualities so that farmers can make informed decisions on the best type of breed they can keep to get good returns by making the best choice from the various breeds in the market.
Improved KARI indigenous chicken
The KARI Improved Indigenous chicken breed is one of the most popular breeds in the country at the moment. The chickens can produce more eggs and meat compared to local indigenous chickens. The breed can also do well in areas with harsh climatic conditions such as the arid and semi-arid regions in Northern Kenya. The chicken can be reared in free range conditions especially for farmers who want to produce chickens organically. When properly managed, the KARI Improved hens can lay between 220 to 280 eggs a year. A hen from this breed can attain 1.5kg in 5 months. A cock weighs 2kg over the same period if they are well-fed. The breed has a quiet temperament, excellent feathering and is able to adapt fast to the conditions under which it is kept compared to other breeds.
At the moment there is a huge demand for KARI Improved chickens across the country such that KARI is unable to supply farmers who need this breed. But efforts are being made to train farmers who can breed the chickens and sell to other farmers.
The Kenbro breed is a dual-purpose (meant for eggs and meat production) breed which was specifically developed to serve the western Kenya market that has a high demand for chickens. It was introduced into the country about a decade ago by Kenchic Ltd to meet the demand for farmers who would prefer a breed that requires less intensive management than hybrid chickens. Kenbro is more resistant to diseases compared to hybrid birds. It can survive on free range. The bird matures faster with proper feeding and starts laying eggs at 5 months. It can attain up to 4kg with proper feeding. Kenchic produces more than 20,000 birds from this breed in a week but some farmers breed the birds and sell to others.
The quality of birds produced by such farmers is low because it is only the company that has the parent stock that can produce high quality birds. Kenbro is a heavy feeder and this is one reason it is able to put more weight than other indigenous chickens.
The Kuroiler is a dual-purpose breed that was introduced in Uganda in the year 2009 from Keggs Farms, India. Like Kenbro, Kuroiler can survive on free range, but they need to feed continuously, a reason why they put on weight faster than do indigenous chickens; at 4 months Kuroiler chickens can weigh up to 3kg and 4kg in 6 months.
Farmers rearing this breed say it has tastier meat compared to indigenous chickens; their meat is also soft and tender. Its eggs are larger than those of indigenous chickens. A Kuroiler hen can lay between 140-150 eggs in a year. However, Kuroiler’s quality goes down when they are crossed with indigenous chickens.
Farmers keeping them say Kuroiler birds are scavengers that can live on household food leftovers and related agricultural waste. Like local indigenous chickens, Kuroiler chickens are resistant to most diseases although farmers are advised to vaccinate them in the same way they do other chickens.
However, one big disadvantage with Kuroiler chickens is that the hens cannot sit on their eggs to hatch. Many farmers discover this fact too late. Kuroiler chickens are therefore suitable only for farmers with incubators.
Small- scale farmers in the rural areas who rely on hens to hatch chicks can only order fresh stock of chicks every time they want new stock for breeding. Indeed poultry farmers in rural areas in Uganda are already raising questions on the sustainability of this breed among resource poor communities who cannot manage to buy new stocks every time they want to rear new batches of birds.
“Unless the government sets up hatcheries at the village level, small-scale farmers will be exposed to businessmen with hatcheries, who will increase chicks prices or even charge them more for hatchery services,“ says Henry Kijanji, a poultry farmer in Mafubira Sub-county, Jinja, Uganda in a telephone interview.
Farmers interested in Kuroiler day-old chicks can contact Joseph Makumi on 0723 687 400, Gilgil.
Rainbrow Rooster chicken
Like the Kuroiler breed, Rainbow Rooster is dual purpose breed meaning that farmers can keep it for both meat and eggs, multi-coloured dual purpose, low input bird which can be put on free range. However, it is a heavy feeder, which is able to put on weight fast attaining 3kg to 4kg in 6 months. However, like the Kuroiler breed, the Rainbow Rooster hen cannot sit on the eggs to hatch; so farmers who want to keep this breed must have an incubator for hatching.
The breed is therefore not suitable for small-scale farmers in the rural areas who cannot be able to buy incubators mainly for lack of electricity supply.
For interested commercial farmers, the Rainbow Rooster is distributed by Kukuchic Ltd Tel 0727 991 303, 0733 840 288 Eldoret.
You can listen to or download the audio version of this article here: http://theorganicfarmer.org/content/know-right-type-chicken-rear-profit
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