Enhancing productivity of local chicken under rural chicken production system (free range) through disease control, supplementation with non-conventional feeds, housing and breeding  Disease and pests control practices  Housing (construction & mana | Livestock and Fisheries Management (Livestock Feeds)

Localchicken production is a fundamental component of small-scale farm holdings inthe arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya. They are a source of valuablehigh-protein food (eggs and meat) and generation of income for rural people.Farmers consider th Read more..

Description of the technology or innovation

Localchicken production is a fundamental component of small-scale farm holdings inthe arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya. They are a source of valuablehigh-protein food (eggs and meat) and generation of income for rural people.Farmers consider them to be the only animal species able to withstand droughtconditions well, as evidenced by the comparative low mortality. Poultry isperceived as appropriate livestock by rural farmers, especially in arid andsemi-arid lands (ASALs), when viewed in terms of its ability to scavenge formost or all of its nutritional requirements. The estimated population is around30 million in Kenya, 75% of this being indigenous chicken. This resource isfound in every household, therefore there is no reason why it can’t be used toimprove the livelihoods of farmers in the arid and semi-arid lands of EasternKenya.


Keyconstraints to local chicken production in the ASALs are predation (by bothaerial and terrestrial predators), diseases, pests, housing and nutrition.Under the free range production system, which is widely practiced by a majorityof households, the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO)has tested and promoted a technological package in ASALs of southern Kenya(Makueni, Machakos and Kitui Counties). The package entails simple farm-leveltechnologies aimed at reducing chicken mortality. It includes disease and pestscontrol, housing and supplementation with locally available feed ingredients.The houses provide shelter for brooding hens, eggs and chicks. They areconstructed using local materials like wood, reeds, thatch grass, clay orbricks. Types of houses recommended include basket housing for the chicks, andslatted and deep litter houses for the hens. A chicken run, which is a fencedarea, is used to confine and protect chickens against predators during thedaytime. The messages that go with these technologies are: 1) use ash andacaricides to disinfect and kill parasites from the walls and cracks regularly;2) clear all grass and bushes three metres around the house to keep rats andsnakes away; and 3) vaccinate chicks against Newcastle Disease (NCD) at leastone month after hatching and every six months for other age groups. Supplementation,especially in the dry season, can be in the form of ants/termites, cassava andthe leaves of cowpeas, pigeon peas and leucaena.

Assessment/reflection on utilization, dissemination & scaling out or up approaches used

Womenare the main poultry producers. Men enter the value chain as traders, usuallyserving as apt middlemen, because poultry trading involves a lot of movementbetween homesteads in search of chicken. There are three levels of traders: i)those directly in contact with farmers (first-level traders); 2) those buyingdirectly from first-level traders and based at the markets in small towns; and3) bigger traders located in larger towns or cities like Nairobi. The first andsecond-level traders can be cut off depending on where the farmers aregeographically located and their proximity to the road, the quantity andquality of birds, market information and the farmers’ level of education.


Critical factors

§  Awareness of the technologies—this canbe accomplished through field days and mass media (radio broadcasting in locallanguages). Experience has shown that farmers realise the importance ofaddressing some of the things they took for granted, such as vaccination,constructing smooth walls on chicken houses to reduce the pest load andsupplementary feeding, which can make a difference in the quality and quantityof birds and translates to better income.

§  Changing farmers’ mindset from rearingchicken only as a source of subsistence to a more business-oriented enterprise.

§  Training of indigenous chicken serviceproviders (ICSP) on basic flock management, production, basic salesrecord-keeping and collective marketing. They in turn offer their services at afee.

§  Marketing groups – mobilisation andformation are necessary to enhance collective marketing.

§  Credit services to facilitate thepurchase of chicks and drugs.

§  Linking farmers to organisations thatcan provide day-old chicks in large numbers.

§  Training farmers insynchronised/continuous incubation and hatching.

Current situation and future scaling up


§  Feed deficit for supplementation duringthe dry season

§  Unorganised marketing

§  Conventional drugs, like the vaccine forthe NCD, are only available in large doses for 100 birds, hence posing a constraintto majority of farmers who have small flock sizes

§  Conventional drugs expensive

§  Poor access to financial institutions



§  Use of group approach; this is workingout very well under an ongoing project in KALRO—the Kenya Arid and Semi-AridLands (KASAL) Project

§  Use the ICSP as well as other partnersto reach many farmers with vaccines and information

§  Use of incubators to increaseproduction, especially having a uniform age of birds for ease of diseasecontrol, particularly NCD, and marketing

§  Accessibility and awareness of productavailability from agrovets

§  Targeting agrovets to avail informationabout their products to the farmers

§  Promoting of dryland crops (sorghum andgreen grams, grains and cassava tuber and leaves), use of blood and bone mealand termites as alternative feed.



§  Use of group approach—the groups need tobe cohesive, an issue that can be addressed by ensuring that issues raised bygroup members are the same as those raised by officials i.e. both share similarareas of priority (shared vision).

§  Use of the value chain approach so thatthe farmers and research/extension team acquire prior knowledge on salientareas crucial for the success of the technology, for example ideas on marketavailability/location would exclude over-reliance on middlemen who offer lowprices.

§  All stakeholders along the indigenouschicken product value chain should be made aware of their roles.

Gender considerations

Encouragementon the use of small, manually-operated grinding machines for feed grains thatwomen and children can easily operate.

Contact details

Name and contact of the organisation:

KenyaAgricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO),

P. O.Box 57811-00200 Nairobi, Kenya;

Email: director@kari.org;

Tel:+254 20 4183301-20;

Fax:+254 20 4183344;

Mobile:+254722206 988, 722 206 986, 733 333 223, 733 333 224


Name and contact of presenter:

Dr.Harun Maina Warui,

P. O.Box 340 90100 Machakos, Kenya;

Email: harunwarui@gmail.com;

Tel:+254 20 2338162;

Fax:+254 20 2311449;

Mobile:+254 716 508850 133


Name and contact of key scientists:

Mr SMalo Nzioka,

P. O.Box 340-90100, Machakos, Kenya;

Email: malonzioka@yahoo.com;

Tel:+254 20 2311437;

Fax:+254 20 2311449;



Name and contact of key partners:

Ms JanetKithome, Women and Children Alternative Lives,

P. O.Box 73, 90138 Makindu, Kenya;

Email: wacalkenya@yahoo.com;

Tel:+254 20 2389828;


Mobile: +254 721 498365, +254 733 877705

Additional information

Local/indigenouschicken the answer 

Thepoultry population in Kenya is estimated at 29 million, 75% of which areindigenous chicken. Every rural household has chicken and the biggest questionis, why farmers do not use this resource to improve their livelihood and hencereduce or eradicate poverty.

 Rearing indigenous chicken as a business

Accountfor any time spent.

Considerthe market and target to increase productivity by doing the following:


A farmerfeeding chicks in cages, a form of daytime chick housing.


1. Feeding



Withadequate feeds and good management chicken grow faster and attain market weight(1.5 kg and above) in about 4 months. Remember to give them a lot of freshwater daily.


2. Disease control

§  Prevention is better than cure. Makesure your chicken lives in an hygienic environment.

§  The most important disease is Newcastledisease, a viral infection with no cure. A vaccination schedule is available.

§  Dust the house against ectoparasites.

§  Deworm against endoparasites.

§  Consult your nearest livestock/veterinaryoffice.


3. Housing Simple rules for good housing

§  The house should be easy to enter andeasy to clean, minimum height 6 feet.

§  The windows should be opposite eachother, parallel to the wind direction.



§  The house should be rainproof and coolinside

§  Place the perches and nests inside thehouse

§  Build the house near the homestead forsecurity purposes.


Awell-kept house contributes to healthy chicken


4. Breeding

What isbreeding?

§  It is the process of mating to produceoffspring with certain required characteristics.

§  Select beginning stock cocks and hensand then hatching eggs.


5. Collective marketing

When agroup of farmers come together to sell their chicken, this is called “collectivemarketing”. To collectively market chicken, members of the group need should:

1)    Agree to sell together.

2)    Collect information about the marketsuch as price, quantity and quality demanded.

3)    Find a buyer and negotiate prices andother terms including a contract.


For moreinformation, contact the nearest livestock office or:

S MaloNzioka

KenyaAgricultural Research Institute, Katumani Centre

P. O.Box 340-90100


Phone+(0)20 2311437



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