The Scope and Effect of Family Poultry Research and Development
Research and Development Options for Family Poultry
E. B. Sonaiya, R. D. S. Branckaert and E. F. Gueye
Smallholder poultry production (i.e. family poultry) is an appropriate system that makes the best use of locally available resources. Family flocks are important providers of eggs and meat as well as being valued in religious and cultural life. There are three production systems for family poultry - free range, backyard and small-scale intensive with productivity of 20 - 60, 30 - 100 and 80 - 150 eggs/hen/year, respectively. Body weight of 1.2 kg and 800 g are obtained at 32 weeks for normal size and dwarf breeds of local chickens in the free-range system. Newcastle disease is the most important health problem while breeding, feeding and marketing are equally important problems. A co-ordinated programme involving breeding, feed, health management is suggested for the development of family poultry production. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is strongly committed to family poultry development and, through the International Network on Family Poultry Development (INFPD), can co-ordinate family poultry development activities in the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).
Family poultry comprises extensive and small-scale, intensive poultry production and is still important in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the South Pacific. This is merely a working definition and there are very many exceptions. For example, Aini (1990) has reported large-scale production of indigenous chickens (Ayam kampung) by means of the extensive system in Malaysia.
The contribution of family poultry to total poultry production in the areas where they occur is, with some exceptions, more than 70 per cent. Bangladesh and Nigeria are examples of countries where complete livestock census has been done within the last 10 years and detailed information on poultry population structure is available. In Bangladesh, family poultry represents more than 90% of total poultry, and 74% of the 10 million households keep poultry. Even landless families (22% of total households) keep 5-6 chickens. In Nigeria, family poultry represents about 94% of total poultry. For chickens specifically, family chickens represent 83% of the 82 million adult chickens under traditional and commercial management. Family poultry production contributes to family nutrition and income. In Bangladesh, it contributes 28% of the total protein supply, taking second place to milk products which contribute 38% and are mostly imported. In a study on income generation in transmigrant farming systems in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, it was found that family poultry production was the major source of cash income and produced about 53% of the total income. Cash income from poultry was used for food, school fees and unexpected expenses like medicines (Ramm et al., 1984).
Family poultry is usually the responsibility of women. For example, Guye (1998a) has estimated that, in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, probably more than 70% of chicken owners are women, while pigeons traditionally belong to children. Women look after the birds and earnings from sale of eggs and chicken are often a significant source of their cash income. Development of family poultry production will not only enhance the cash income of women but can lead to their greater empowerment when they participate as poultry advisers, extension workers and vaccinators.
In Dominican Republic, family poultry contributes 13% of income from animal production (Rauen et al., 1990) while in Tanzania, the relative importance of family poultry was illustrated by the fact that by the end of the fifth year, 120 kg of meat [25 adult culls (42 kg), 39 pullets and 39 cockerels (78 kg)] and 6.8 kg eggs [195 table eggs] could be obtained from a single initial pullet (Kabatange and Katule, 1990).
Keeping poultry for smallholder farmers represents a household savings, investment and insurance as the value of the birds increases over time. Buying, receiving or giving poultry and other livestock is a preferred method of investment in rural areas where few other investment alternatives exist. Poultry raising also provides employment to the farm family during the off season from crop farming. Poultry can represent significant capital. The contribution of native ducks to the income of a farm family in Indonesia was 70% of annual income from a 0.5 ha farm of irrigated paddy and mixed garden with 100 native ducks and 2 head of buffalo (Setioko, 1997).
In Africa, family poultry is truly the invisible animal as it is hardly counted in wealth ranking as cattle, sheep and goats are. Yet, they are important as providers of egg and meat (each hen produces about 30 eggs and 15 chicks every year) and the cocks find various uses in religious and cultural life. Family poultry represents a significant part of the rural economy in particular and of the national economy as a whole. In Burkina Faso, for example, Ouandaogo (1990) reported that 25 million rural poultry (made up mostly of guinea fowls) produced 15,000 tons of meat out of which 5,000 tons were exported, adding about US $ 19.5 million to annual export earnings in 1989. Similarly, Diambra (1990) reported that Cte dIvoire imported every week, 37,000 guinea fowls from Burkina Faso at a cost price in Abidjan of US $ 3.90/kg and 3,200 tons of eggs at a cost of 540 CFA/dozen. These resulted in the addition of US $ 27.1 million to the annual import bill in 1989. Family poultry in Africa as a whole represents an asset value of US $ 5.75 billion.
Family poultry plays a significant role in the cultural life of rural people in the following ways: as gifts to visitors and relatives; as starting capital to youths and newly married maidens, as sacrificial offerings in traditional worship. In recent years, family poultry has come to assume a much greater role as a supplier of meat and animal protein for both rural and urban dwellers. This is because of droughts and diseases (rinderpest and trypanosomiasis) which have greatly reduced productivity and growth of large and small ruminant animals. Since pork is counter-indicated in many religions and cultures, poultry can be seen to be the most suited as a source of meat.
Besides the provision of employment and easily disposable income for small-scale farmers, particularly in the off-season from cropping, family poultry integrates very well into other farming activities as it requires very little time and investment. There are reports (Mali, Togo, Ghana) of portable poultry systems in which the farmer carries (or grazes) the fowls along the way to the farm site (Kane, 1990; Aklobessi, 1990), tethers them while he farms and brings portions of anthills to the tethered fowls (Williams, 1990).
Poultry is an ideal livestock for small farms because of the small individual requirement for feed, water and other production inputs. There are three distinguishable systems for managing family poultry. They are the extensive systems - free-range and backyard; and the small-scale intensive system. In the free-range system there is little intervention in the life cycle of the birds. The major intervention is in the areas of feed and water supplementation, overnight housing, and to a much lesser degree, health management. The area of reproduction - selection, mating, incubation, brooding - is left strictly to the birds. In the backyard system, poultry are part-confined within a fenced yard or merely within an overnight shelter. In the small-scale intensive system, small numbers (usually more than 50 but less than 500 birds) are produced along commercial lines.
There is no doubt that the availability of resources inputs - housing, cages, feed, drugs as well as time - contribute to the choice of production system.
Family flocks are usually integrated with crops, fishes and other livestock species such as chicken/cattle, chicken/guinea fowl, chicken/duck, chicken/turkey, duck/rice/fish, duck/pig, etc (Sonaiya, 1990a). Under the extensive systems, production cycles are continuous with poultry, unsorted by sex, at different stages present in the flock at any given time. Foundation stock is usually obtained from the market or as gifts. Flock composition is heavily skewed towards chickens in Africa (Table 1) and towards ducks in Asia and Latin America.
Table 1: Flock composition and size in rural poultry flocks in Nigeria (after Sonaiya, 1990a)
Household flock size ranges from 3 to 97 in Africa, 10-31 in South America and from 50 to 2000 in Asia. Flock size is related to the objectives of the poultry enterprise. These objectives are: consumption alone, consumption and cultural reasons, income and consumption and income alone.
The system of management appears to have an influence on the breeds used. The free range systems uses almost exclusively local breeds as it has been found, from the fate of exotic cocks in the numerous cock exchange programmes, that exotic birds do not survive under this system. There are reports of local birds having the ability to use high fibre feeds (Diambra, 1990; El Houadfi, 1990), and for fast growth rate (Olori and Sonaiya, 1991).
The identification of birds as local is purely for convenience as there has been at least one attempt at cross breeding in most countries. This being so, the existing birds are crosses, to various degrees, of the local birds with the exotic breeds of choice for these programmes, that is: Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Australop and Wyandotte for chicken; Aylesbury, Rouen, Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell and Pekin for ducks; and White Roman and Chinese for geese (Sonaiya, 1990b).
Except in the absolute free range system, all birds receive some supplementation, based on available grains, by-products, food scraps and compounded feed. Productivity increases in direct proportion to the level of confinement and hence management. Under the free-range and backyard systems, egg production by chickens is 20-100 per year.
Under these systems, ducks produce 30-80 eggs, turkeys 60-80 eggs, and guinea fowls 100-120 eggs per year. In Mali, hatchability was reported to be uniformly high in guinea fowl (80-84%) but much lower in chickens (60-70%). In Nigeria, Ayorinde (1990) reported that because of the extreme nervousness of guinea fowl, chickens are used for hatching guinea fowl eggs and brooding keets. Body weight of about 1.2 kg (normal size) and 800 g (dwarf) is achieved in chickens in about 32 weeks. Productivity in the small-scale commercial system is similar to that of large-scale commercial poultry provided there is no disease outbreak.
Newcastle disease (NCD) is the most important disease recognized in virtually every country. Mortality due to NCD is however variable. Season also has an effect as severity of NCD is higher in the cold dry season in West Africa but in Ethiopia, most NCD outbreaks start at the beginning of the rainy season.
While the importance of NCD is recognized, conventional vaccination techniques are expensive to use and do not provide adequate cover and protection for rural birds which have been identified as reservoir source of infection for the commercial flocks (Bell & Mouloudi, 1988). Pilot and field studies on the use of orally fed NCD vaccines have been carried out in the Gambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Results in Africa are not really encouraging. Other diseases found in rural poultry include Gomboro, coccidiosis, fowl pox, fowl typhoid, fowl cholera, external and internal parasites. Pediculosis is a very pervasive plague of rural poultry.
Aerial (hawks, kites) and terrestrial (rats, snakes, dogs, cats, foxes and raccoons) predators account for far more mortality than is usually recognized. Prevention by means of proper housing, shelter and bush clearing is the best policy. Hunting, poisoning, trapping and the use of natural enemies of the predators are control methods available. Moreover, traditional remedies are widely used to control poultry diseases (Bizimana, 1994; Guye, 1997, 1998b)
On the range and in the backyard, a bird can certainly not find all the nutrients it needs for optimal production all the year round. During the dry season, poultry can quickly develop vitamin deficiency because of the scarcity of succulent vegetables on the range. There is thus a need to supplement their scavenging with sources of minerals and vitamins. Most of the materials available for scavenging are not concentrated enough in terms of energy because they contain a lot of crude fibre. There is a need to supplement scavenging poultry with energy sources. That is why grains are given to poultry in the traditional village system. It has been estimated that 35g grain supplement per hen per day is given to local chickens in the free range system in south-western Nigeria (Obi and Sonaiya, 1995). Insects and their larvae are identified as protein sources for scavenging poultry. Atteh and Ologbenla (1993) reported that maggots could make up 3% of the diets of chickens without compromising performance.
In the semi-intensive system, making well balanced feed is uncommon if not impossible for the smallholder. The feed situation for birds in this subsystem is therefore usually poorer than for birds in the extensive or fully intensive systems. Although calcium can be obtained from ground or pounded snail shell from sea and river shellfishes, or school chalk, phosphorus from burnt and ground bones and salt from the kitchen; these are hardly ever done.
Smallholders using extensive systems adopt cafeteria choice feeding of nutrients. Energy supplements such as maize, sorghum and millet are offered early in the morning and late in the evening. Birds scavenge during the day mostly for protein (insects, worms, larvae, etc.), minerals (stones, grits, shells), and vitamins (leafy greens, pepper, oil palm nuts) in-between these meals. There is evidence to show that such a cafeteria system is not inferior to the offer of complete feeds. The real need, therefore, is to determine the nutrient content of the available feed resources and to provide such nutrient sources to birds at the right time; not necessarily at the same time (Branckaert, 1990).
The possible feed resources for smallholder poultry production are:
1. Household wastes including the waste from households which do not keep livestock. In many areas, the by-products from making artisanal beer is available and is of great importance as a feed.
2. Materials from the domestic environment including worms, snails, shellfishes and insects; grains and by-products from the harvest and subsequent processing; by-products from other local industries such as palm and tree crops, fishing, meat processing, fibres (cotton, kapok, etc); green pickings; seeds.
3. Cultivated and wild fodder materials: grasses, herbs and fodder trees, grazed or cut and carried; water plants e.g. lemna, azolla, Ipomoea aquatica.
4. "Non commercial" feed materials which fall into the following categories:
4. A. Locally available sources such as cotton seed, kapok seed, rubber seed and citrus by-products which are already being utilized.
4. B. A group of potential sources of quality protein such as cultured snails, earthworms, termites, frogs and unicellular algae.
4. C. Potential sources of minerals and vitamins: snail meal and shells, shellfishes, fruits like papayas, fodder trees like Leucaena sp., Calliandra sp., Sesbenia sp., and aquatic plants.
5. Feed materials which may be available locally for purchase or by barter, such as by-products of small industrial units processing household crops and small estate crops.
6. By-products from larger industrial units such as breweries (breweries grain) and oil mills (oil cakes and meals).
7. Prepared commercial feed
The feed resources are listed in the rough order of the ease with which village families can have access to them. The basis for smallholder poultry is that producers do not have to provide all the inputs especially feed for the birds. It is therefore essential to find out what feed resource is available on the range for the birds to scavenge. Feeding poultry in the extensive and semi-intensive system depends on the possibility of scavenging. The feed resources which scavenging chickens utilize are available to even the weakest families in the community. For example, the more prosperous villagers in the rice growing areas of Bangladesh who have supplies of rice grain, rice paddy, rice bran and wheat can afford to keep ducks. The poorer villagers can only keep chickens which are able to scavenge. For the landless poor, it has been advised that they keep chicken for the market only in periods when grains can be picked up in sufficient quantities. Alternatively, chickens should only be allowed to scavenge under supervision, or when some additional source of feed could be utilized, such as aquatic weeds, snails, earthworms or cockroaches.
It is very important to know the amount of scavengeable feed available in a village and to monitor the effect of seasons on it. Any gap between scavengeable feed and the feed required is to be filled with supplemental feed. In South-east Asia, Roberts (1992, 1994) and Gunaratne and co-workers (1993, 1994) have carefully studied and classified the feed resources that may be available for scavenging which they call the Scavengeable Feed Resource Base.
Poultry products have social and spiritual benefits and play an important role in rural economy. In many customs of indigenous people, poultry is used for ceremonies, sacrifices, gifts and savings. In the Sahelian region of West Africa, guinea fowl, more than chickens are used as gifts to visitors. In cases when no poultry is available (e.g. after a NCD outbreak), in order to meet customary family obligations, the family will buy or borrow a bird. In the village, chickens are given or received to show or to accept good relationship, or to say thanks for a favour or a help. Besides, Poultry can serve as a unity of exchanges in societies where there is no circulation of money (Guye, 1998a). For example, in The Gambia five adult hens can be bartered for one sheep and 25 hens for one head of cattle.
For most socio-cultural and religious purposes, the required sex and colour of fowls are prescribed. Among the Mamprusi in Northern Ghana (van Veluw, 1987), chicken cocks are the most popular sacrificial animals. Guinea fowl cocks are not used. A red cock is sacrificed to ask for rain or a good harvest; a white cock is used when they are grateful; a black cock is for protection from evil like disease, war or quarrel. A white cockerel is given by one family to another at the moment when the accord is reached for two people to get married. Because of these customs, red, white and black cocks and cockerels have more value; sometimes the prices are doubled. Hence farmers never cull a black, white or red cock.
Poultry, particularly in the free range, provide meat, eggs, feathers, manure (convertible to fertiliser and natural gas), pest control, weed clearance, seed cleaning of grasses for mulch, scratching and foraging.
In family poultry production, egg production for sale is less significant than meat production. The consumption of eggs in the village is uncommon. In Mamprusi society, women, circumcised girls and first-born children are not allowed to eat eggs or meat. These products are only taken by elderly men, male visitors and young children (van Veluw, 1987). Women believe that their behaviour can affect their unborn child and this includes the food they eat during pregnancy. The belief is still strong that a child that regularly eats eggs will become a thief as the good taste of eggs will make the child want to eat eggs daily. In Bangladesh, eggs and meat are consumed mainly by the son, husband and guest and a little by the daughter. The women rarely eat eggs and meat themselves. The poor generally do not consume much eggs and meat. The products are mainly sold, and from the proceeds the most necessary items are purchased among which carbohydrate food is prominent.
Under normal conditions, birds are sold when the household is in need of money. The income from the sale of chickens is an additional revenue to earnings from cash crops from the field. The sale of birds and eggs takes place in the village market. Prices fluctuate during the year being low during the hungry season when the granaries are empty and the crops are still growing and every body needs ready cash. At such times, traders come to buy to resell in big cities. Sometimes, middlemen are involved. They buy the birds in the villages and sell them at the market or to traders. Poultry products which are sold contribute about 15% to the annual financial income of the household. Farmers are willing to save for agricultural equipment or other farm supplies like seeds. Livestock is used as a savings account. The offspring, like chicks, are the interest on the savings.
The objective of livestock development at the national level is to attain, as much as possible, self sufficiency in animal products. At the farm level, the objective is to increase income and to utilise family labour year-round. Livestock development requires a strategy to optimize production from available feed resources. The identification and careful study of feed and animal resources are essential first steps. Resources must be examined in the context of the agro-climatic zones and their linkage with other developmental elements such as markets, institutions, incentives and policies. New technologies should be introduced during on-farm improvements. The utilization of locally available feed resources must be maximized to reduce or eliminate the importation of concentrate feed.
Livestock development efforts in the past had laid primary emphasis on rapid genetic improvement arguing that improvements in feeding will be ineffective when animals with low genetic potential are raised. In recent years, there is a growing awareness of the need to balance the rate of genetic improvement with improvement in feed availability and management. There is also an increased realization of the potential of indigenous animals suited to sustainable production systems as efficient converters of locally available resources.
The presence of flourishing industrial poultry farms does not negate the need for a parallel family poultry system in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. What is needed is to determine the level of each kind of production system that is appropriate for each situation?
What is required to maximize productivity of family poultry production systems? First the whole interlocking factors affecting family systems, their advantages and constraints must be properly understood. Vaccination against Newcastle disease increases chick survival rate by 100 per cent. What is the best way to carry out such vaccination? Simple housing and other predator protection are required for chicks and young growers. What designs and management will ensure this protection? In addition to chickens, ducks and guinea fowls, pigeons and quails are of importance. What are the possibilities for each of these poultry classes? Supplementary feeds are important. How can available feed resources on the range be reliably estimated? Family poultry is a vehicle for rural development, incomes generation and nutrition enhancement. What development strategies will generate incomes, enhance family nutrition and bring rural development in a sustainable way?
It is becoming increasingly common to assume that small-scale farmers know best what is good for them and that changes from outside do more harm than good. However, it must also be said that there are inevitable gaps in farmers indigenous knowledge resulting from isolation and lack of scientific research and expertise. In addition, where technology transfers have floundered, this has invariably been because there was no clear understanding of the target production systems, the constraints of these systems and the ways of overcoming them. The real challenge for us who care about improving poultry production and the welfare of the rural poor is to assist in obtaining and applying this information. At the same time, it is important to be realistic about expectations. In Europe and North America the widespread uptake of new methods often takes five to ten years.
Improvement of productivity of local chickens
Wherever the trouble has been taken, it has been found that there are highly productive indigenous birds (Mathur et al., 1989; Nwosu, 1979). The task is to identify all such breeds, to determine and, if possible, alleviate factors which contribute to variability within and between them. The selected birds can then be used for crossing to improve production further.
Promotion of other poultry species
Waterfowl (ducks and geese) provide the opportunity for better utility of water and pasture resources in Africa that can generate additional food and income for rural communities. These birds are already efficiently combined with other systems such as rice and fish in Asia. They are more heat tolerant and less susceptible to disease than chickens. They use alternative natural feed resources, such as grass (especially by geese), water plants and snails.
There is, however, still a lack of information about production characteristics of locally available breeds managed under the extensive systems, and insufficient knowledge of the most suitable exotic breeds and breeding strategies.
The great differences in productivity between extensive and intensive poultry production are due largely to differences in how the animals are managed. In industrial poultry, housing and management and even the breeds and strains used are fairly stereotyped whereas under extensive systems these vary enormously. For example, there are millions of smallholder family farms where mixed flocks of poultry species are kept in the same area with other livestock (as in the cattle kraal system in Africa). Many of these farmers regard poultry as, at best, a secondary or tertiary occupation, something to be done before or after the real days work (Sonaiya and Olori, 1990). Instead of compounded feeds, the birds depend on insects, worms, left over food and the few grains used mainly to ensure control. It is only in a few cases that available feed ingredients are offered in a combination which, invariably, will not be balanced and may, in fact, be deleterious if the birds are restricted and so unable to scavenge for the balance of nutrients required.
These diversities in breeds and strains, in the feed resources available and in the environmental and management systems make it difficult to develop strategies for improvement which are of widespread applicability. In addition, very little research has been undertaken to determine existing or potential levels of productivity. This is the rationale for carrying out baseline studies. To determine the "state of the art" in family poultry production. This always seems to be the right place to start in the study and amelioration of the myriads of problems facing family poultry development.
The idea of the Scavengeable Feed Resource Base (SFRB) in extensive poultry production systems developed by John Roberts of James Cook University in Australia, has opened a window to real progress in research to improve productivity. The possibility of estimating the SFRB is of immense significance to appropriate supplementation of scavenging poultry in order to enhance productivity in a sustainable way. This idea is already contributing to the work of many family poultry researchers in Africa and Latin America who read Roberts paper in the proceedings of 1995 ANRPD workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was published in December 1997.
Family poultry suffer losses from predators and from diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. The losses attributable to morbidity are not known but it has been estimated that more than 750 million chicks, guinea keets and ducklings in Africa die each year as a result of various infections (Sonaiya, 1990c). In addition, predators particularly hawks, snakes, dogs, cats and rats kill or wound an approximate 75 million poultry every year. Surviving birds show various signs of sickness depending on the type of infection. Many lose appetite, do not grow, lay very few eggs (or do not lay), do not hatch nor brood their young, resulting in huge losses of revenue and food to the village, countries and Africa as a whole. There are further costs. Family poultry has been identified as reservoir hosts for pathogenic organisms causing NCD in industrial chickens which is more financially disastrous because of the high capital investment required in that sector. The annual cost of vaccinating all the family chickens against NCD by the conventional water route and intra-muscular injection for Nigeria has been estimated at US $ 3.8 million (Okunaiya et al., 1990). These methods are geared towards birds in captivity and not in free-range systems.
The challenge is clear, that is, to develop and validate specific methods of disease diagnosis, monitoring and control that are specifically applicable to the extensive and semi-intensive systems. The various methods of vaccine application on a large scale need to be critically evaluated and if necessary modified. Unfortunately, family poultry producers cross national borders freely with their birds. Hence, poultry disease outbreaks easily spread across national borders. This makes it more difficult for individual countries to devise their own programme for family poultry disease control. Rather, regional efforts, as the current NCD campaign centred on Zimbabwe and South Africa in the SADC area, are necessary. Such regional efforts should be co-ordinated at the continental level and assisted by such bodies as the Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (IBAR), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) section responsible for research on animal diseases (former ILRAD), the Scientific and Technical Research Committee of the Organization of African Unity (OAU-STRC) and technically supported by the FAO/IAEA.
The need is for a hardier vaccine and a more efficient route for delivery of such a hardy NCD vaccine. The I2 V4 strain of the NCD virus developed by Peter Spradbrow and his colleagues at the University of Queensland in Australia appears to be such a hardy vaccine. However, as stated before, the results of the different trials conducted in different FAO TCP projects (Ethiopia, Gambia, Zimbabwe) have not been conclusive. This question will be examined at a workshop to be held in Harare in December 1998.
The Joint FAO/International Atomic Energy Agency Laboratory has initiated a Co-ordinated Research Project titled: "To Increase Farm-yard Poultry Production in Africa by Improving Vaccination Strategies against Newcastle and Gumboro Diseases using Nuclear based Technologies". Effective and efficient vaccination against NCD is a major step towards higher productivity for the scavenging poultry system which has demonstrated its resilience through the years and is contributing significantly to food security in fragile and marginal areas.
With adequate funding from major international and bilateral donors, a continent-wide campaign to arrest the onslaught of Newcastle disease can be developed (i.e. PANDEC - Pan African Newcastle Disease Eradication Campaign) patterned after the Pan African Rinderpest Campaign, for it will similarly require the establishment of a sero-monitoring network and development of kits for rapid field monitoring and virus neutralization.
Growth is possible without development or research, but development represents true progress. Development itself involves research at all levels - from the most sophisticated laboratory to the smallest farm. There is need for a very close working relationship between scientists and neighbouring farmers in order to obtain local support within the farming communities for trying out new methods based on research. The research required at each of these levels must be clearly defined.
What is needed is a co-ordinated programme which:
- addresses the problems of breeding, feeding, housing and disease control and is specifically directed at the small farmer; and encourages research geared towards:
- understanding indigenous poultry production systems and their weakness;
- development and testing new methods which will not only overcome these weaknesses but will also be affordable and sustainable.
In short, the need is for a programme which encourages animal scientists, veterinarians, and social scientists to leave their laboratories and ally their knowledge with the local wisdom of farmers while at the same time imparting this knowledge to students and extension workers.
Examples of the activities required which are already on the way are:
- evaluating the local poultry genetic resources; e.g. The Global Data Bank for Domestic Poultry. (Contact: Animal Genetic Resources, AGAP, FAO)
- finding alternative feed ingredients; e.g. Tropical feeds available on diskette (Contact: Andrew Speedy, FAO Feed Resources Group); Special issue of World Animal Review Vol. 82 No. 1, 1995.
- developing vaccination strategies for NCD and Gomboro; e.g. FAO/IAEA Co-ordinated Research Project (Contact R. H. Dwinger).
Every effort must be made to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to solving problems. The alternative feedstuffs programme will require the support of a strong laboratory which will provide services to screen potentially useful feedstuffs for their nutritional value before these materials are used in expensive animal experiments and feeding trials. Such a laboratory centre can also serve to train poultry scientists in nutritional, statistical and extension methods that are necessary for successful projects in family poultry production and development.
The following activities should be considered in the family poultry development programme:
A. Breeding and reproduction
Evaluation and selection of indigenous breeds:
There are many types, breeds and strains of indigenous poultry which are well adapted to their environment. There is need for their genetic improvement in order to: improve their productivity within their local environment; make use of the improved indigenous birds in crossing with imported exotic birds; and conserve the desirable genes (e.g. for disease resistance) of the indigenous breed for future breeding (see report of EU project TS3*-CT92-0091 led by Prof. P. Horst, Humboldt University of Berlin).
Evaluation and adaptation of imported breeds to hot climate:
Basic breeding projects conducted in collaboration with foreign breeding firms should provide adequate data about local breeds and guidelines on the best route for genetic upgrading (contact: Prof. A. Cahaner, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Prof. D. Flock, Lohman Tierzucht, Cuxhaven, Germany; Prof. Horst).
Developing of hatching and starting centres (coorperative or private) to produce day-old-chicks, keets, ducklings, poults and goslings and to raise them to 28 days before delivery to farmers (see Sonaiya, 1992).
B. Feed research and development
- Alternatives, substitutes and supplements must be sought in order to minimize feed and ingredient importation.
- In countries with coasts, marine animal meal potentials must be exploited (e.g. shrimp head meal, fish offal, periwinkle); in landlocked countries, slaughter house by-products must be harvested, developed and utilized (e.g. vegetable carried blood meal) (see Sonaiya, 1995).
- The growth of small-scale feed mixing concerns (either co-operative or private) is essential for real development (see Sonaiya, 1992).
C. Health management
- Regional co-operation in vaccine production to maximize the efficient use of available human and material resources on the continent (see Spradbrow, 1997).
- Training on a regional basis in disease diagnosis, epidemiology, environmental sanitation and disease prevention, must be provided.
D. Entrepreneur development
- There is need for a strong effort to nurture (incubate) entrepreneurs in input sources for poultry production: feedstuff suppliers, equipment manufacturers, hatcheries, chick starting centres, pharmaceuticals, meat and egg producers, marketers, slaughter and processing plants, caterers, financial services (see Sonaiya, 1992).
- Co-operatives are strongly indicated in an effort to involve people in production and marketing, and to develop closer links between producers, retailers and consumers of poultry eggs and meat (see Sonaiya, 1996).
E. information management
- Development, documentation and dissemination of information on the appropriate methods of data generation, collection, collation, storage, retrieval and application in the field (see Proceedings INFPD MBour Workshop, 1997; forthcoming).
- Agricultural schools, Research Institutes, Universities, Government Ministries and Parastatals, non-governmental organizations and the private sectors must be encouraged to serve as vehicles for information dissemination to the next generation.
- The information gathered can be used to promote family poultry in primary and secondary schools as well as in a poultry advisory system.
Family poultry is a good topic for international co-operative research involving scientists from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The CGIARs ILRI does not work on poultry. FAO is keenly interested in family poultry as an important focus in its Special Programme for Food Security.
To co-ordinate these five activity areas and others that will be suggested, the International Network on Family Poultry Development (INFPD) formerly African Network on Rural Poultry Development (ANRPD) appears ideally suitable as a non-governmental organization with strong backing from the FAO. INFPD has more than 300 members from all over the world and facilitates contact between its members by means of a newsletter which is now published every three months and distributed by e-mail. There are plans to create a web site on the Internet before the end of the year.
The following joint INFPD/FAO activities have already been planned up to the year 2000:
- Video Conference with participants from AIEA (Vienna) AGA/FAO (Rome) and Wageningen (The Netherlands).[Held in November, 1998]
- First Electronic Conference on Family Poultry (December 1998).
- Workshop on the use of NCD vaccines in Harare (TCP) [December 1998]
- Contribution to the two ACIAR and WPSA Web sites.
- Second Electronic Conference on Family Poultry in 1999.
- Symposium on Family Poultry during WPC 2000 in Montreal, Canada (August, 2000).
- Since November 1998, a young professional: Dr. E. Fallou Guye, has been assigned to FAO/HQ in order to co-ordinate the various joint INFPD/FAO activities.
In developing countries, the backyard poultry sector represents the backbone on which a sustainable well adapted semi-commercial sub-sector could be progressively developed. As sustainability assumes preservation of natural resources, as well as economic feasibility and social acceptance, this evolution should be conducted in the most appropriate socio-economic way, taking into account the specific local features and constraints to be overcome.
That means, after collecting the appropriate data for the poultry sector in specific environmental conditions, an appropriate model must be designed and tested at farm level.
Such approaches have only started recently. A successful project is presently being conducted in Bangladesh under IFAD financial support and the first results were published in the Symposium on Rural Poultry Production which was held during the XX Worlds Poultry Congress in New Delhi in September 1996.
In addition, some small trials, as indicated above, are being conducted in Africa under support from FAOs Technical Assistance Programme (TCP), and with some NGOs assistance.
It is one of the responsibilities of the International Network for Family Poultry Development (INFPD) to collect and disseminate all information that can sustainably increase the sub-sectors productivity.
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