The Bangladesh Model and Other Experiences in Family Poultry Development
Production, Management and Marketing Dynamics of the Rural Scavenging Poultry in Uganda
Byarugaba, D. K., Olsen J. E. and Katunguka-Rwakishaya, E.
A study was conducted in the districts of Kumi and Bushenyi to collect baseline information about the production, management and marketing dynamics of the rural scavenging poultry in order to design strategies for the improvement of the production and marketing of the rural scavenging poultry in Uganda. A questionnaire was administered to selected rural poultry farmers in the two districts by trained interviewers during the year 2000.
Most of the households were headed by males and all of them were engaged in farming besides other activities, and 97% of them kept chickens and 67% kept turkeys for many years. The numbers of poultry varies from 6-20 excluding the chicks and poults. These poultry are mainly kept under scavenging system (90%) with a few (10%) practicing semi-scavenging system and the daily management is done by women and children (90%).
Production also varies with seasons associated with outbreaks of Newcastle disease while the markets are variable ranging from 2,000- 3,000 Ugshs depending mainly on the weight of the birds. Turkeys go for a much higher price (5,000- 15,000 Ug shs) and have been observed to survive during Newcastle disease outbreaks. These farmers experience problems of disease (especially Newcastle disease and parasites). It was apparent that these farmers require support in extension services to advise them on improved management, and disease control with the available technologies.
Key words: Rural, village, scavenging, poultry, production, marketing, management
Poultry provide an acceptable form of animal protein to most people through out the whole world with their perceived healthfulness of their meat in human diets and their competitive costs in most countries (Gueye, 1998). Despite the tremendous expansion of the commercial poultry sector in the last three decades, scavenging poultry have not undergone drastic improvement but still account for more than 80% of the total poultry production in developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and South Pacific (Sonaiya, 1990). They are kept in rural areas contributing substantially to annual egg and meat production. The total fowl population in Africa was estimated at 1,868 million in 1995 producing 1,695,620 metric tones of eggs and 2,096,000 metric tones of meat (FAO, 1996). In Uganda the poultry population was estimated at about 30 million of which rural scavenging poultry were estimated to represent 26 million (about 90 % of the total) in 2000 and until recently very little attention has been paid to them (FAO, 1996).
While poverty reduction interventions that the rural poor especially women can profitably undertake are difficult to identify, there is high positive impact on women's and children's lives recorded in impact studies of the semi-scavenging poultry model developed and applied in projects in Bangladesh (Alam, 1997). Despite this enormous potential of scavenging poultry for alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life of the hardcore poor and their children, who account for about 45% in Uganda, little attention has been paid to it as judged by records of scarce funding and limited expertise, and less regard of smallholder poultry as an area of importance in terms of political aspects or scientific prestige.
This study was therefore designed to collect baseline data about production, management, marketing practices and diseases in scavenging poultry in order to be able formulate appropriate strategies to improve their production and health in order to improve the quality of life of the poor people through improved poultry production.
A survey was carried out in the districts of Kumi and Bushenyi, which are, socio-economically, geographically and climatically distinct. A questionnaire was used to gather baseline data about the management, production and marketing dynamics of the rural scavenging poultry. The demographic data of the owners was also collected.
Selection of households
The two districts were considered as the target distinct populations on the basis of their differences mentioned above. The number of households to be included in the study per district was 100 households selected randomly from a list of households from two villages that were also selected randomly.
Data was coded and entered into a computer and analysed using the Statistical Programme for Social scientists (SPSS). Frequencies and means were compared.
Household demographic characteristics
The household were mainly headed by males (80%, n=203) aged between 21 to 50 years most of who were married (83%, n=203) with a few widowed (3%) and separated or divorced (1%). Most of the household heads had attained primary level education (41%), and other attended secondary education (27.6%) and 17 % had attended tertiary institutions, while a reasonable number (10% had not attended any formal schooling.
All the households were engaged in farming (100%) and almost all of them (97%) were keeping local scavenging chickens, while 67% of them also kept turkeys (with other livestock like cattle (55%). The households also kept crops which varied from millet, sorghum, bananas, cassava and several cereals. Others were engaged in formal employment such as civil service (13%).
Over 75% of the households have been keeping the local poultry (97%) for more than five years. Eighty percent of the household keep 6-20 chickens (this excludes chicks) and only a few (1.5 %) keep over fifty chickens. The number of cocks in the flocks ranges from 1-5 (80%) with about 5-10 hens (75%). The chickens are kept by most households because of ease of management (96%), resistance to disease (20%), growth rate (10%) and several other reasons such as availability, ceremonials and religious reasons. The sources of chickens are usually from markets by purchase (75%) and a few as gifts or inherited. The number of turkeys kept ranged from 2-25, with an average of six.
The chickens are managed almost entirely on free range system (90%) with only a few (10%) practicing semi-intensive management. The management is mainly done by children (60%), women (30%) and the husband only participates little (10%).
The chickens are not housed (96%), but the few who house the poultry do so in kitchens (55%), separate shelters (30%) or in the sleeping houses (15%).
Fourty seven percent of the farmers provide supplementary feeds which are mainly leftovers from the house or cereal grain during bumper harvests. This is done any time of the day but more so in evenings as the chickens come back home. No water is provided to the chickens (90%) because most farmers (89%) think that the water is not necessary.
Problems encountered in management.
Eighty percent believed that disease was the biggest problem while predators also contribute significantly (49%). Others problems associated with management include quarrels with neighbours and thefts. These problems lead to low morale (60%) and eventually they resort to keeping a few birds.
All the farmers experience chick losses caused by diseases (95%), predators (95%), accidents (2%).
Often more than 50% of the chicks are lost before they mature.
Most of the farmers make no effort to control disease (60%) and the rest make attempts. Those who control diseases do so by use of indigenous knowledge (60%) such as herbs and application of paraffin to control external parasites, while 20% using modern medications while some use both. Many of them do not control predators. All the farmers required advice on how to control Newcastle disease.
The farmers (80%) rarely get advice from extension agents about poultry management as they are not regarded as an aspect that requires serious attention. It is only for a few of the farmers who are going into semi-intensive that go to seek for advice
The chickens begin laying at six to seven months, laying 11-20 eggs per clutch and no nests (97%) are provided for this. The chickens normally have three clutches per year. Most of the hens are left with 10-15 eggs for hatching of which 45-75% may hatch into chicks. The rest of the eggs are usually either eaten or sold. The eggs for hatching are usually (99%) from the household flocks. Often less than 50 of the hatched chicks survive to maturity and farmers never bother to sex the chicks and neither do they consider them as chickens until they are about ready for sale or laying, so quite often they are not even counted. Few farmers (41%) realise the change in production with season as such except in association with outbreaks of diseases that almost wipe out the flocks especially Newcastle disease which comes during certain seasons.
The major products for sale in the rural chickens are mainly the chickens and eggs. Accordingly about 32%of the farmers sell eggs while the rest do not. The eggs are mainly sold at the trading centres at a cost of between 50 and 100 Ug Shs and 52% of the farmers think that the market for eggs is not reliable. The chickens are mainly sold off in large numbers at periods when they expect Newcastle disease outbreaks, that is, in January, and November. There are also higher sales around festival periods such as Christmas. The prices vary between Ug shs 2000 - 4000 for cocks and 2000 - 3000 Ug shs for hens depending on the size/weight of the chickens and the season. The turkeys fetch much higher prices vary from 5,000 to 15,000 Ug Shs. The majority (60%) believe that the marketing is not sufficiently organised and hence there are problems of low prices (80%) and the buyers are sometimes few also or not available when wanted.
Improvement of Production
Eighty one percent suggested that housing could tremendously improve production and many also indicated that besides housing, feeding and disease control also need to be improved to increase production especially control of Newcastle disease. Extension services were highly demanded (65%) to train the farmers how best to improve their production and marketing.
Domestic fowl are the most important type of poultry kept in Africa. Because of low productivity, indigenous fowl production in Africa has been neglected and is frequently considered by farmers as an insignificant occupation compared with other agricultural activities. Nevertheless, village fowl provide the population with a vital source of protein and income. In addition, they play an important role within the context of many social and /or religious ceremonies. Rural scavenging poultry contribute more than 90% of the total poultry population in Uganda and like in many other countries there is still little information available on these forms of poultry.
This study therefore collected baseline data about rural scavenging poultry, which would form a basis for prioritising research and intervention strategies to improve the production as well as marketing. The study revealed that the rural household have kept poultry for many years basically on scavenging system of management similar to other areas in Africa and in Asian countries (Gueye, 1998). The households keep flocks of between 6 and 20 chickens per household excluding chicks and growers, with very few who keep over 50 birds under semi-scavenging system of management. Similar numbers of turkeys are often kept along with chickens. Flock sizes over 100 chickens were reported in Tanzania (Kitalyi, 1996) which was attributed to vast empty land available as opposed to other countries. In this study, this was observed between Kumi and Bushenyi where the numbers were relatively more in Kumi (average 15 chickens) as compared to Bushenyi (average 7 chickens) due to the differences in the land availability and utilisation.
The numbers of poultry vary with occurrence of certain diseases such as Newcastle disease, which wipe out more than 60% of the chickens when it strikes. Farmers therefore sell many of the birds prior to such disease occurrence in order not to make losses from the outbreaks. This creates differences in the flock structures at different times of the year and thus the flock dynamics. At the time of this study the flock structure was on average 12.6 hens, 4.3 cocks, 14.2 growers and 20.3 chicks with an approximate ratio of hens to cocks of three to one cock. Due to the vulnerability of the chicks to several problems of disease and management the flock characteristics change the desired flock ratios. These are also influenced by egg production.
The study showed egg production to range from 11-20 per clutch, which is similar to what has been reported for other countries such as Tanzania. (Minga, et al, 1986) BurkinFaso (Bourzat and Sauders,1990). Some countries however have reported higher egg production of upto 50 eggs per clutch. This was attributed to management practices that discourage brooding and could be used to increase egg production. While egg production and chick survival are the major determinants of flock productivity, chick mortalities account for very high losses in most villages. Management practices that minimise chick losses therefore could be used to increase output from the scavenging chicken. Egg production is also a function of egg production per hen and the proportion of mature laying hens in the flock. The proportion of laying hens in this study was on average 24%. This factor can also be manipulated to increase the proportion of the laying hens and egg production and hence output.
The hatchability of the scavenging chicken has been considered to be low. This study showed hatchability of between 45-75% and this falls within the range reported by others (Wilson, et al., 1987, Van Veluw, 1987). Some have even reported up-to 100% hatchability (Minga, et al., 1989). Improved management such as provision of nests for laying could help achieve optimal hatching potential of these birds.
The poultry are generally raised on a free-range system and they survive as scavengers. Women and children play a key role in their day today management (90%) with very little of men participation (10%). Supplementary feeding sometimes is given in form of leftovers from household surplus. There is very little information regarding feed resources in Africa. A few studies ( Musharaf, 1990) that have reviewed feed resources for the rural poultry include data on crops such as cassava, millet, plantain which are considered unconventional energy feed resources which seem to be cheaper that the commercial rations with no significant differences in growth rate (Sonaiya ,1993). Rudimentary coops or shelters may be provided to give some protection against bad weather and night predators. This is the typical low input low output system affordable even by the poorest social strata of the rural populations.
One of the major constraints to village poultry production in Africa is undoubtedly the existence of various diseases (Ojok, 1993, Minga and Nkini, 1986). The problem of diseases in village chickens is compounded by the interaction of different entities that are of significant importance to disease epidemiology. There are uncontrolled contacts in the villages between birds from different households as well as frequent introduction of birds from markets, gifts or other purchases. These and other wild birds may play a significant source of infection as they roam freely in villages.
Among the diseases most commonly recognised is Newcastle disease, which was ranked the most important. Besides Newcastle disease, there are also parasites both external and internal, which are well recognised by the farmers. Some of the parasites such as stick tight fleas are known to cause serious losses especially in the chicks. In these villages, local remedies are usually used to treat many of these diseases such as use of paraffin to clean off external parasites and many herbs for internal parasites. Because of virtually no extension services there is very little of modern medicine used in control of diseases. As a result Newcastle disease has continued to wipe out many of the chickens when it strikes although vaccines are available.
According to reports from the various countries including Uganda, the most prevalent diseases include Newcastle disease, respiratory disease complexes, fowl pox, diarrhoea, salmonellosis, collibacilosis, fowl cholera, parasites and several others (Thitisak, et al.,1988, Sirinivasa, et al., 1989, Ojok, 1993) . Rearing losses are very severe, with high mortalities in the young being an important component. It is estimated that mortality of indigenous poultry under scavenging conditions is 70% and above in chicks up to 8 weeks of age (Sonaiya, 1999, Thitisak,et al.,1988). These high cumulative levels of mortality influence the structure of the flocks whereby 30-50% of flocks are normally chicks. Efforts to increase productivity through improvements in health, feeding, housing, genetics and management have been very minimal until recently (Scola, 1992; Kitalyi, 1996; Gueye, 1998).
While rural poultry do not rate highly in the mainstream national economies because of lack of measurerable indicators of its contribution to macroeconomic indices such as domestic gross domestic product, it has been recognised in national economies of developing countries regarding its role in improving the nutritional status and incomes of many rural poor families (FAO, 1982, Bembridge, 1988, Creevey, 1991, Mokotjo, 1990).
There is still paucity of quantitative data regarding the rural poultry systems and its importance. Sustainable production systems for rural poultry must be dealt with on a systems approach as they form part of an integrated farming system in most rural settings. The two highly ranking problems of the system as identified in this study were Newcastle disease control and management. The tools and technologies for tackling these problems are available and have been proved elsewhere and wait to be directly adopted with a few modifications while further baseline studies continue.
For the control of Newcastle disease, there are currently several vaccines available including the thermostable vaccines while management will involve all aspects including providing appropriate housing using local cheap materials, and proper use of all the available feed resources. The resistance and survival of turkeys during Newcastle outbreaks was an interesting observation that is being investigated. If the findings are favourable, turkeys will be another poultry species deserving promotion as it fetches higher prices and its meat is healthier. In conclusion, the strategy for improving production in rural poultry requires community participation through farmer training programmes by extension agents for increasing management skills and control of diseases.
This work was supported by a DANIDA ENRECA Programme on a project on Improvement of Health and Production of rural chickens in Africa (IHEPRUCA). The authors also wish to acknowledge the valuable time and cooperation of the farmers and extension agents in Bushenyi and Kumi districts.
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Table 1: Demographic characteristics of the households