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Reports from Projects and Studies (Cont.)

Improving the Health and Productivity of the Rural Chickens in Africa:
Report of Phase 1 of an Enreca Sponsored Project

M.M.A. Mtambo

Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine (Poultry Diseases)
Department of veterinary medicine and Public Health
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Box 3021, Morogoro, Tanzania
[email protected]


In 1996, DANIDA approved an ENRECA project entitled Improving the Health and Productivity of the Rural Chickens in Africa. In this project, intervention in livestock was focused on rural Chickens kept by small holders in rural areas of Tanzania. The main objective of the first phase was to collect baseline data on production, diseases and types of local Chickens available and to train personnel to MSc level. Thus DANIDA has built a reasonably good research and training capacity in Tanzania. Although activities were concentrated in Tanzania in the first phase, contacts were maintained with other countries with a second and third phase in mind. Based on results drawn from the pilot phase it can be concluded that productivity of the rural Chickens is still low; approximately 40 eggs per hen per year, the mature body weight varies ranging between 1 and 2 kg and growth rate of scavenging Chickens is as low as 5 g per day. The results also showed that over 50% of chicks are lost before they reach the age of 2 months. The main causes being infectious and noninfectious diseases and birds of prey. Of the infectious diseases, Newcastle disease is the most important and causes the greatest losses in adult Chickens. It was established that whereas fowl typhoid is the most important disease in commercial Chickens, it seems to be of less importance in village Chickens. The pilot phase revealed that the local Chickens population is a pool of heterogeneous individuals, which can be separated by geographical locations henceforth, referred to as ecotypes. Differences in adult body weight and size, comb type, body and shank lengths, and egg weights were shown to exist. It was revealed that all local Chickens ecotypes are susceptible to Newcastle disease, which remains the number one killer in the local Chickens sector. It was further shown that one ecotype showed resistance to Salmonella gallinarum infection. The preliminary results indicate that if mortality is minimised, the total yearly income from sale of surplus rural Chickens meat and eggs in the country will be up to Tshs. 118.5 billions, and hence an industry of considerable magnitude. This confirms the potential of the rural Chickens as a small-scale industry.

Key words: Chickens rearing in rural Africa, Enreca Project, ecotypes, Newcastle Disease, Molecular Epidemology


Poultry production in Tanzania and generally throughout the world is carried out by two systems of production. The first is the scratcher system, which is mainly based on the scavenging poultry in the rural and peri urban areas. The second is the semi-intensive and intensive systems, which are based on the commercially improved poultry, concentrated in urban or peri urban areas.

According to the National sample census of Agriculture of Tanzania mainland 1995, there were 27,065,000 Chickens of which 26,594,000 (93.3%) were rural, scavenging Chickens; 289,000 were commercial layers and 184,000 commercial broilers. Other poultry were 43,000 guinea fowls and 1,214,000 ducks and geese. Thus, it is evident that the poultry industry in tanzania is dominated by the scavenging poultry (mainly Chickens and ducks) in rural areas, where 83% of the 30 million human population live (Mwakatundu, 1995). About 2,778,000 (72%) of the total households in the rural areas keep Chickens with an average of 10 Chickens per household.

The commercial poultry production currently has a total annual hatchery capacity of 39 million eggs. They are mainly owned and run by three private companies (Interchick, Polo Italia and Kibo Poultry). Others at a lower scale of operation include Boko Hatchery, Marangu Farms, Kibaha Education Centre, Joester Farms, J.K.T. hatchery and Arusha Poultry Farm. The regional poultry hatcheries, which were run by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), have been closed with the exception of Morogoro and Kagera regional hatcheries. The National Poultry Company (NAPOCO) Ukonga Hatchery that was producing over 40,000 day old chicks (DOC) per week is now producing only 1,000 per week.

Despite the poor performance of the commercial sector, figures from rural poultry show that Tanzania is endowed with rich poultry resources. However, this potential has not been utilised. The level of protein deficiency in Tanzania is very high especially in children as an outcome of low intake of animal protein. This could partly be attributed to the very low consumption of poultry products, 0.7 to 1 kg of poultry meat and 13 to 16 eggs per person per year compared to 3 kg of poultry meat and 34 eggs, respectively, for Africa. The annual per capita consumption of poultry meat in 1986 in other countries was higher than in Tanzania: (in kg) Philippines 4, Thailand 7, Asia 9, Soviet Union 11, Eastern Europe 12, Western Europe 16, United Kingdom 17, Saudi Arabia 28, and in developed countries more than 200 eggs per person per year (Gyles, 1989). Furthermore, the contribution of the poultry industry to the National agricultural GDP is rather low, estimated at less than 4.7%, but as 30% of the livestock GDP, which in turn contributed 25% of the Agricultural GDP.

Objectives and project implementation

The main objective of the pilot phase was to collect baseline data on rural Chickens production in Tanzania in order to identify factors that limit productivity, and to describe the production system in terms of genetic diversity. Specifically the project aimed at collecting baseline data on production, diseases and ecotypes and to train personnel to Master level.

Baseline production data were obtained during the course of two years' Masters of Science studies. During the practical part of the study, data on the management, nutrition, feed and productivity of rural poultry were recorded over a one-year period in selected villages in the area of Morogoro. Information obtained included farming systems, Chickens population per household, egg production per hen per clutch, cock-hen ratio per household, hatchability, age at first lay, weight of eggs and growth rate of chicks, type of shelter, type of feeds and type and amount of supplementary feed given by the farmers to the Chickens of different age.

Epidemiology of fowl typhoid in scavenging local Chickens was included in a two year MSc study. During the practical part of the study, data on prevalence of S. gallinarum in the flocks were estimated and the number of incidences collected over a one-year period was measured. Sero prevalence study, ribotyping of S. gallinarum isolates and outer membrane profiles of isolates of S. gallinarum were determined.

Baseline ecotype data were also collected as part of another two year MSc study. During the practical part of this study, Chickens ecotypes were identified in selected villages based on weight of adult Chickens, weight of eggs, body conformation, colour and distribution of feathers, colour of skin and length of leg and neck. The five most prevalent ecotypes were chosen for MHC typing.

Project output

Three MSc theses were produced from the work done during the pilot phase of the project. The first is titled Productivity and Nutritional status of local Chickens under village Management Conditions; the second one on the epidemiology of fowl typhoid is titled Molecular Epidemiology of Salmonella enterica subsp enterica serovar Gallinarum biovar gallinarum Infection in Chickens in Tanzania; and the third thesis is titled Ecotypes and Natural Disease Resistance among Scavenging Local Chickens of Tanzania. Based on results drawn from the pilot phase it can be concluded that productivity of the rural Chickens is still low; approximately 40 eggs per hen per year, the mature body weight varies between 1 to 2 kg and the growth rate is as low as 5 g per day. The results also showed that over 50% of the chicks are lost before they reach the age of 2 months; the main causes being infectious and non-infectious diseases and birds of prey. Of the infectious diseases, Newcastle disease is the most important and causes the greatest loss in adult Chickens. It was established that whereas fowl typhoid is the most important disease in commercial Chickens, it seems to be of less importance in village Chickens. The pilot phase revealed that the local Chickens population is a pool of heterogeneous individuals, which can be separated by geographical locations, henceforth referred to as ecotypes. Differences in adult body weight and size, comb type, body and shank lengths, and egg weights were shown to exist. It was revealed that all local Chickens ecotypes are susceptible to Newcastle disease that remains the number one killer. It was further found that one local Chickens ecotype showed resistance to Salmonella gallinarum infection. The preliminary results indicate that if mortality is minimized, the total yearly income from sale of surplus rural Chickens meat and eggs in the country will be up to Tanzania Shillings (Tshs.) 118.5 billions, and hence an industry of considerable magnitude.

Productivity and Nutritional Status of Local Chickens under Village Management Conditions
(MSc thesis by Nsajigwa A. Mwalusanya)

Objectives of the study

The main objective:

The main objective of the study was to obtain base line data on productivity of local Chickens under village management conditions.

Specific objectives:

  1. To determine the productivity of local chickens and describe the management as practiced by rural farmers.

  2. To determine the nutritional status of scavenging local chickens.

Materials and methods

Productivity and management studies

The study was undertaken in villages of Morogoro region, Tanzania. The study commenced in October 1997 and ended in July 1998. Six villages were randomly selected based on climatic condition and year round accessibility. The selected villages were Kiroka and Kibwaya (warm & wet zone), Kipera and Mlali (warm and dry zone) and Langali & Nyandira (cool & wet zone).

Eight families in each village were randomly selected for a longitudinal study on performance of their flocks. The farmers were given record sheets. Further, data were obtained by actual measurements, on the spot observation and interviews of members of the households, responsible for care of the Chickens. Growth rates were determined by starting with recently hatched chicks, which were initially wing-tagged and then weighed monthly.

Furthermore, a cross sectional study was undertaken to get an overview of production and management in the villages under investigation. Information from a total of 124 farmers was obtained through the aid of a questionnaire and interviews.

Nutritional studies

The aim of this study was to determine the nutritional status of scavenging local Chickens during the wet season. This study was concurrently carried out with the productivity and management study in the same villages. A total of 144 Chickens, adults and growers in equal number were randomly purchased and then slaughtered for crop content collection. These consisted of 48 Chickens from each of the three zones (warm & wet, warm & dry and cool & wet). 72 Chickens were slaughtered in each of the two seasons (short rainy & long rainy) and crop contents were physically and then chemically analyzed. Crop samples were analyzed for dry matter, crude protein, either extract, crude fiber, ash, calcium and phosphorus content. Samples of the common feed supplements used by rural farmers were also analyzed.

General results

Productivity and management studies

Approximately 90% of the families in the villages under investigation were keeping Chickens, which were also more popular than any other livestock. The flock size in the warm and wet zone was significantly higher (P<0.05) than in the other two zones. The overall mean flock size was 16.2 with a range of 2 to 58 Chickens. The overall mean clutch size, egg size and hatchability were 11.8, 44.1g and 83.6%, respectively.

Overall mean chick survival rate to 8 weeks of age was 59.7%. The mean live weight for cocks and hens were 1948 g and 1348g, respectively. The mean cock to hen ratio was 1:4.3. Mean growth rate to 10 weeks of age was 4.6g/d and 5.4g/d while that of 10 to 14 weeks of age was 8.4 and 10.2g/d for female and male chicks, respectively. These parameters did not differ significantly (P>0.05) among the three climatic zones.

Age at first lay ranged between 6 and 8 months with a hen having an average of 3 laying cycles per year. In general, most of the farmers left their Chickens to scavenge during the daytime, confining them at nighttime. There was little supplementation with maize or rice bran, while cereal grain supplementation was observed especially during harvesting season. Generally the productivity observed was low and management of the birds was poor. However, there were a lot of performance variation of individual Chickens in terms of egg production, egg weight, adult body weights and hatchability. This agrees with what other authors have reported on the heterogeneous nature of local Chickens populations. The differences observed in some reproductive traits like egg production, egg size and fertility might form the criteria for improving local Chickens by selection. The production potential of local Chickens could further be exploited if the present management in relation to feeding, housing and health care is improved.

Nutritional study

The main components of the crop contents could physically be categorized into cereal grains, cereal bran, green forages, insects, worms, earth and unidentified materials. Their average composition varied with season and climatic zone.

Dry matter (DM), Crude fiber (CF) and calcium (Ca) content did not differ significantly (P<0.05) between the two seasons while crude protein (CP) ether extract (EE), ash and phosphorus (P) content were significantly higher (P<0.05) during the short compared to the long rainy season. CP content was significantly higher (P<0.05) in growers than in adults while Ca content was significantly higher (P<0.05) in adults than in growers. DM, EE, CF, ash, and P did not differ (P>0.05) with age. DM content was significantly higher (P<0.05) in crop contents of Chickens from the warm and dry zone than in the other two zones, while EE was significantly lower (P<0.05) in the warm and dry zone than in the other two zones. CF content was significantly higher (P<0.05) in crop contents of Chickens from the warm and wet zone than in the other two zones. Ash, Ca, and P contents were significantly lower (P<0.05) in the warm and wet zone than in the other two zones. Chemical composition of the common feed supplement (bran) was 79.9, 10.8, 2.9, 9.6, 17.2, 0.29 and 0.57 percent for DM, CP, EE, CF, ash, Ca, and P, respectively.

The study on nutritional status of local Chickens revealed the variation of dietary status of local Chickens with season, age and zone. The differences in nutritional status probably correspond with differences in availability of feeds on the surroundings, which is influenced by season, and climate of the area. The feed (bran) given to Chickens cannot cover the deficiencies observed, especially with regard to calcium. It is suggested that when plans are made for improving feeding standards of local Chickens in rural areas, variation in nutritional status with season and climate should be considered.


These studies have indicated a low average productivity of local Chickens, but with variation among individual Chickens. Management in terms of housing, feeding and health care has been observed to be poor. Nutritional status is below the recommended level for optimum production. From these findings further research is recommended on:

Molecular Epidemiology of Salmonella Enterica Subsp Enterica Serovar Gallinarum Biovar Gallinarum Infection in Chickens in Tanzania

(MSc thesis by Robinson Hammerthon Mdegela)


The main objective of this study was to gauge the importance of S. gallinarum infection in Chickens in Tanzania and to investigate the epidemiology of S. gallinarum infection in Chickens using molecular typing techniques.

The following were the specific objectives:

Summary of the results and conclusion

Sero and cultural prevalence studies of S. gallinarum infection in scavenging local Chickens and commercial layers was conducted between August 1997 to 1998. A total of 672 scavenging local Chickens were randomly selected from Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, Tabora and Mwanza regions for this study. Blood samples were collected from all selected Chickens whereas cloacal swabs were collected from 586 of the total 672 Chickens. On the other hand, a total of 480 commercial layers were randomly selected from Dar es Salaam and Morogoro regions. Blood samples were collected from all the selected commercial Chickens while cloacal swabs were collected from 326 of the total sampled commercial Chickens. Among the scavenging local Chickens, the sero and cultural prevalences were 6.3% and 0% respectively whereas in commercial layers the sero and cultural prevalences were 26.9% and 11.3% respectively. The sero and cultural prevalences were found to be significantly higher (P<0.001) in commercial layers than in scavenging local Chickens. Also, the risk of infection in scavenging local Chickens kept in contact with commercial Chickens was found to be five times higher than the risk of infection in scavenging local Chickens with no contact with commercial Chickens. The difference in infection rates between the scavenging local Chickens and commercial layers was speculated to be due to the management systems they were subjected to, e.g. extensive and intensive, respectively. However, longitudinal and experimental studies need to be conducted in order to describe the differences.

The genetic diversity of 63 S. gallinarum isolates from Chickens in Tanzania was determined using plasmid profiling and ribotyping. Plasmid profiling demonstrated two plasmids of different molecular weights (85kb and 2.5kb). Basing on plasmid carriage, three different plasmid profiles were observed. Fifty-one isolates carried both 85kb and 2.5kb plasmids, five isolates carried only 85kb plasmid and seven isolates had no plasmids. Seven different ribotypes designated Ha through Hg were demonstrated indicating the chromosomal differences that exist in Tanzanian S. gallinarum isolates. Of the seven ribotypes, ribotype Ha was the commonest. Both typing methods, plasmid profiling and ribotyping, were capable of tracing the source of infection and in identifying one strain which had persisted for many years. However, ribotyping using HindIII restriction enzyme was more discriminatory than plasmid profiling. Forty-seven of the total isolates typed had similar results on plasmid profiling and ribotyping indicating that probably they belong to one clone. The results indicated that S. gallinarum strains present in Tanzania differ genetically and one strain from Chickens originating from a Dar es Salaam hatchery was found to be the most common according to both typing methods.

The experimental study on the pathogenicity of S. gallinarum infection in local and commercial broiler Chickens was conducted for a period of 14 days on 19 local and 19 broiler Chickens. Based on clinical signs, mortalities, pathological features, serological responses and antibody titres, both groups of Chickens were found to be susceptible to S. gallinarum infection. However, basing the work on severity of the disease and mortality, local Chickens were found to be more susceptible than commercial broilers. It was concluded that, under experimental conditions, local Chickens are more susceptible to fowl typhoid than commercial Chickens. This suggests that, the low infection rate observed in scavenging local Chickens in the field studies was likely to be due to the extensive type of management and not resistance mechanisms to fowl typhoid. Nonetheless, within local Chickens, some were found to be less susceptible to S. gallinarum infection as they did not die during the end of the experiment.

Ecotypes and Natural Disease Resistance in Scavenging Local Chickens in Tanzania
(MSc thesis by Peter Lawrence)

The study was conducted between August 1997 and September 1998. The main objective was to obtain baseline data on rural Chickens' ecotypes. Investigations were carried out to determine phenotypic characters, immunocompetence and natural disease resistance of scavenging local Chickens from four mainland regions of Tanzania namely Mbeya, Morogoro, Mwanza and Tabora.

Scavenging local Chickens have always been considered as a distinct breed of Chickens different from the known commercial hybrids such as commercial layer or broiler Chickens. This study has provided preliminary data, which reveal that the local Chicken population is a pool of heterogeneous individuals, which can be separated by geographical locations and henceforth are referred to as ecotypes. Differences in adult body weight and size, comb type, body length, shank length and egg weight were shown to exist in the ecotypes studied. The results are in agreement with the findings by other workers who reported differences in phenotypic characters of scavenging local Chickens. In this study, five types of scavenging local Chickens were identified namely, Mbeya, Morogoro-medium, Morogoroshort, Mwanza and Tabora.

In assessing the immunocompetence of the Tanzania scavenging local Chickens ecotypes, using both humoral and cellular immune responses, it was found that differences were as pronounced within as between ecotypes whereby some individuals had a high response while others had a lower response. The results from this study suggest the existence of high and low responding Chickens in all ecotypes with reference to the multi-determinant antigen system (sheep erythrocytes).

An investigation on the susceptibility of the Tanzania scavenging local Chickens ecotypes to experimental infection with Newcastle disease virus and Salmonella gallinarum was carried out. Results from the Newcastle disease experiment revealed that all Chickens included in the experiment were susceptible to the virus. This is in agreement with the current view that Newcastle disease is the number one killer in the local Chicken sector. However, in the S. gallinarum experiment, Chickens from Mwanza locally known as Kuchi survived the challenge, suggesting a possible natural resistance to this pathogen. This is the first report on resistance to experimental infection with S. gallinarum in scavenging local Chickens in Tanzania. Other reports on resistance to S. gallinarum were in some lines of White Leghorn Chickens.

Results of the preliminary serological MHC typing of the scavenging local Chickens ecotypes suggest that the Chickens may share some cell membrane antigens (B-G and B-F) with some of the standard B haplotypes of International reference populations. Inability of some of the standard alloantisera to type the local Chickens was interpreted as a testimony of a possible existence in the local Chicken population of B haplotypes outside the standard repertoire.

The present study has revealed phenotypic differences between scavenging local Chicken ecotypes. Furthermore, an ecotype from Mwanza has indicated a possible resistance to S. gallinarum and a possibility of the presence of B-haplotypes of known potency in disease resistance and productivity has been revealed. Taking these three major findings and that of differences in immunocompetence between individual Chickens within ecotypes, it is evident that more work is required to expound the role of each of these findings in relation to the survival of the scavenging local Chickens as well as their productivity.


In Tanzania the scavenging poultry production represents the backbone on which a sustainable well-adapted semi commercial subsector could be progressively developed. The pilot phase of the project focused mainly at technical constraints. Further studies are, however, required to determine optimal and efficient management, feeding and disease control systems under rural conditions and to implement such systems in selected villages. Also, studies should be conducted in order to identify and breed the most promising local haplotypes in terms of disease resistance and productivity, to test a thermostable disease vaccine under field conditions, to study and explore the marketing strategy of rural Chicken products, to train extension workers and rural farmers better, but affordable management, disease control methods and marketing strategies and strengthen research capability of Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya and Uganda including manpower training and transfer of technology.


Gyles, N.R. (1989). “Poultry, people and progress”, Poultry Science, Vol. 68, No. 2, 1–8.

Mwakatundu, G.A.K. (1995). “Nomadic pastoralism in Tanzania and its effects on environment”, in Livestock Production and Diseases in the Tropics - livestock Production and human welfare - Proceedings of the VII International conference of Institutions of Tropical Veterinary Medicine held from the 25 to 29 September, 1997 in Berlin, Germany, Vol. II, 416 – 422.

National sample census of Agriculture 1994-/95 Tanzania Mainland - Ministry of Agriculture Report, Volume II.

The Poultry Development Strategy of the Participatory Livestock Development Project in Bangladesh

Stephen E.J. Swan

Chief Technical Advisor
Participatory Livestock Development Project
Rangpur Project Management Unit, Bangladesh
E-mail: [email protected]


Recent livestock projects in Bangladesh have focused on poultry production as a tool in poverty alleviation by application of the Bangladesh Poultry Development Model that has been developed by the Directorate of Livestock Services and the NGO BRAC. Thus, the Danida and Asian Development Bank sponsored Participatory Livestock Development Project (PLDP) was designed on the basis of the experience of the Smallholder Livestock Development Project (SLDP-1) implemented during 1993–98, which was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Danida. More projects are in the pipeline. This paper discusses the lessons learned from SLDP-1 and the new strategy as it has been applied in the first year (1998) of five years planned to fully implement the PLDP.

Key words: Livestock projects, Bangladesh, poultry, poverty alleviation

Introduction: Danida and Bangladesh in perspective

The territory that is now Bangladesh had a population of 31 million (M) in 1947 at the time of partition from India. In the 50 years to 1997 the population has grown to 125 M with a density of over 800 persons per sq km, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. However, Bangladesh is still one of the poorest countries with a GDP per capita income of approximately $250 (1995). Indicative of the extent of the poverty problem according to the Aide Memoir of the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) Appraisal Mission (3rd Feb 1997) approximately 47% (1991–92) of the population has a calorie intake below 2122 calories per day (World Health Organization and UNICEF standards for average daily per capita food intake), which is called the upper poverty line, and 28% fall below the lower poverty line of 1805 calories per day per person.

Danida development assistance to Bangladesh began in 1971 and 28 years later, in 1998, was US$ 38 M, of which 35% was for agriculture (including fisheries and livestock). In the same year the World Bank loaned Bangladesh US$ 650 M and AsDB US$ 300 M, with Japan as the largest bilateral donor at US$ 200 M. Total bilateral support contributed 20% (US$ 600 M) of the development budget of US$ 3000 M. Bangladesh now manages to provide 50% of this budget and the Danida input was 1.2% (Finn Thilsted, personal communication).

In terms of the total Danida world development assistance, Bangladesh ranks third after Tanzania (US$ 69 M) and Uganda. In the 28 years since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has received external aid amounting to an average of US$ 1000 M/year.

Livestock and Poultry Development and the Department of Livestock Services (DLS)

Livestock, next to crops, is the most important sub-sector of agriculture in Bangladesh. The contribution of the livestock sub-sector to the nation's agricultural gross domestic product is about 11%. This sub-sector accounts for more than 18% of the agricultural export earnings and employs about 20% of the total labour force. It supplies animal protein through milk, meat and eggs for human consumption, draft power for ploughing and dung for utilization as manure. The annual growth rate of the livestock sub-sector in the 1996–97 year was 8%, which was one of the highest in the economy. The livestock population in Bangladesh is estimated to comprise 24 M cattle, 0.9 M buffaloes, 35 M goats, 1.2 M sheep, 153 M chicken and 14 M ducks in 1996–97. Livestock is regarded as the most important activity of the smallholder farmers for creation of employment and generation of income. Poultry rearing is an integral part of agri-business of the farming community. Those villagers who cannot afford to rear cattle or goats, can easily maintain a small number of poultry. About 89% of rural households rear poultry. It is an important source of cash income for the poor rural families, particularly for women. The number of poultry grew at an annual rate of 6.7% over the period 1990–97. The share of poultry in the animal protein of the human diet increased from 14% in 1977 to 23% in 1987 and is estimated to reach 32% in 1997 (Alam, 1997).

Local chicken dominates poultry production in Bangladesh. Most birds are kept in small flocks under a scavenging system with feed generally available from household waste, homestead pickings, and crop residues. Productivity of the local hens is low and losses due to diseases and predators are high. The ownership of backyard poultry is almost entirely in the hands of women. An impact study of the SLDP-1, which formed the basis of the PLDP, indicated that women coming forward for poultry development were among the most destitute of the country (Alam, 1997).

From 1983 the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), realising that it had insufficient field staff to effectively extend concepts of good scavenger poultry management, sought co-operation with the NGO BRAC (See papers by Fattah and Saleque, respectively, in these proceedings) to provide farmer contact through their modified Grameen Bank credit approach of collective debt responsibility - in groups of five credit beneficiaries, with about eight groups making a Village Organization. The point of contact in terms of technical poultry extension and debt collection is an NGO Programme Assistant who regularly contacts 10–15 Village Organisations representing 400 – 600 farmers (usually women) on a weekly basis.

This approach was initiated by the DLS during a seven-year period of FAO/UNDP poultry project assistance (from 1980–87, BGD/73/010 and BGD/82/003), and further developed by the DLS with SLDP-1 (1993–98) in 80 sub-districts (Thanas) in the western part of Bangladesh.

The Danida financing (US$ 11 M) is a grant for Technical Assistance delivered through the Danish consultancy company Darudec, support to Bangladesh NGOs, training and field research. The AsDB contribution is a US$ 20 M loan for DLS support and credit, with the DLS as the implementing agency. The PLDP covers 89 sub-districts (Thanas) in 17 districts of the northwest of Bangladesh. The project will provide loans averaging Tk2300 (US$ 48 with the current exchange rate of Tk49/US$)1 each to 364 000 beneficiaries through 10 NGOs. The three main NGOs who are the same ones that provided assistance in SLDP-1. The credit funds are channelled from AsDB in Manila through a semi-autonomous apex micro-financing organization in Bangladesh “Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation”2 (PKSF) to the NGOs who are registered as partners with PKSF and have a livestock credit programme experience.

The development objective of PLDP is different from SLDP-13 and is “to enhance the status of women and reduce the level of poverty”. This is broken down into three immediate objectives:

1. March 1999.
2. More details are available on
3. The SLDP-1 development objectives were (i) increased per capita income; and (ii) increased animal protein consumption among rural poor in Bangladesh.

PLDP methodology and strategy

Of the 364 000 beneficiaries, over 70% will be women, and their income will be increased by at least 30% as a result of membership in the credit scheme. The impact study of 1996 (Alam, 1997) at mid-term (after two project-years) showed an increase of income per household of 49%, however this fell to 31% taken over a longer 4-year period as indicated in a later impact study (Alam, 1997 unpublished). This is still a very significant impact on income.

It is also expected from SLDP-1 experience that the women farmers will control most of the income from livestock activities and that this will increase their influence on decision-making in other family activities such as whether their daughters will go to school or not. Before participation in SLDP-1 the women contributed about 10% to total household income, and afterwards their contribution was 30%.

Major problems are anticipated with the supply of essential inputs for poultry farmers. Day-old chicks and vaccine to control Newcastle Disease (known as Ranikhet in the Indian sub-continent, as the virus was identified in northern India at the same time as it was in Newcastle) are produced by DLS State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and face problems common to all such institutions.4 Some of the larger NGOs are already producing their own day-old chicks (though the suitability of breed may be questioned) as the DLS hatcheries are not able to supply the best known (in Bangladesh) scavenger crossbreed named the Sonali (golden one), obtained from the cross of an Rhode Island Red (RIR) cock over a Fayoumi hen. BRAC is hatching a commercial brown egg-layer cross from a RIR cock and a Barred Plymouth Rock hen. There are three international companies producing this commercial cross for about US$ 4.50 cif5 per day-old chick. Males from this cross may be suitable for using with Fayoumi hens as pure-line RIR are difficult to find and very expensive. The same can be said for Fayoumi in terms of difficulty of supply.

If the appropriate breed combination can be found which will produce sufficient eggs while still retaining scavenging ability and disease resistance when crossed with the local “desi” hen, then this will contribute significantly to the income-generation ability of the beneficiaries in the project. Much work remains to be done to determine this “best” breed combination, and Danida has allocated US$ 800 000 for this and other field research topics within the project.

4. In Bangladesh in 1997/98, SOEs together lost a total of US$ 360 M.
5. Cost, insurance and freight.

Imported vaccine is also commonly used and NGOs are field-testing the haemagglutination response of these vaccines in the field. There is also a need for testing these vaccines, as well as the locally produced DLS vaccine in controlled and confined conditions of challenge from the local virulent Ranikhet virus. Heat tolerant V4 Newcastle vaccine strains (see Spradbrow in these proceedings) have been field tested by BLRI (the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute) under contract research from the NGO BRAC, but further tests will be undertaken before large scale usage.

The project beneficiaries

In cash terms, the poverty line is about Tk 6300 ($150) /household per year in rural areas since the mid 1980s, suggesting a fall in living standards of those near the poverty line and the poorest of the poor. The high growth in population (approximately 1.63% annually) is leading to increasing landlessness. In 1990–91, nearly half the rural households were reported as landless or near landless (owning less than 0.5 acre (0.21 ha)) and 17% of these were completely landless. Women tend to dominate the ranks of the poor in Bangladesh, being considerably more vulnerable than men. AsDB's (1996) “Bangladesh: Gender Strategy Study” (draft), noted that the burden of poverty falls disproportionately on women. While female-headed households comprise 15% of all households, they earn only 55% of the average household. About 96% of female-headed households were below the poverty line, and 33% were among the hard-core poor. Women are also worse off in terms of nutritional intake (88% of male intake), wages (40% of male wage rates), and literacy (45% of the male level). (Aide Memoir of the AsDB Appraisal Mission of 3 Feb 97).

Criteria for determining the incidence of poverty at the Thana level were jointly developed in 1996 by World Food Programme and the Government of Bangladesh. The project agreement identified the target beneficiaries as:

In the 4-year impact study of SLDP-1 (Alam 1997, unpublished) the following improvement was noted:

The integrated poultry model

The PLDP development model is identical to that tried and tested with SLDP. Different groups of beneficiaries identified for the project are as follows:

Poultry Worker: Poultry Workers (about 2.5% of the loanees) are vaccinators, mostly women, one in each village, who are given some vaccines by the DLS on payment of cost and buy some medicines. They vaccinate poultry and are paid in cash or kind by villagers for the vaccination and supply of medicines.

Key Rearer: Key Rearers (about 95% of the loanees) buy 12 HYV chickens Rhode Island Red, Egyptian Fayoumi and their cross, known as the “Sonali” from the Chick Rearers and raise them for egg and meat production together with chickens of the local breed (“desi”).

Chick Rearer: Buys about 250 HYV day-old chicks per batch from government hatcheries or from Mini Hatchers and raises the chicks in confinement. These chicks are sold at the age of 8 weeks to the Key Rearers.

Model Rearer: Model Rearers produce fertile eggs from improved breeds for sale to Mini Hatchers. They keep about 25 hens in confinement.

Mini Hatcherer: Buys fertile eggs from the Model Rearers and produces chicks for sale to Chick Rearers.

Feed Seller: Feed Sellers collect and purchase ingredients, then mix and sell to the different types of rearers.

The project considers these different activities of the beneficiaries as a tightly integrated and inter-dependent package programme and provides assistance to perform those activities within the same area.

Because the concept of the Poultry Model works better in some places than others, a computer-based Poultry Model Monitoring System (PMMS) will be established at the DLS Dhaka office to centralise data collection and reporting, and enable the DLS to manage the Poultry Model as part of their overall Management Information System (MIS).

The participatory approach

With the majority of Project activities focused at the Thana level, the Project employs an integrated systems approach that involves all stakeholders. The participatory planning process to be employed under this Project will work to develop a collective commitment to, and ownership of Project activities, both downward and upward, necessary for the effective and sustainable achievement of Project objectives (para 39 Aide Memoir of the AsDB Appraisal Mission of 3/2/97). The participatory aspect is also indicated in the contributions made by each of the partner organizations in the project: in million US$:

Partner organizationMillion US$

Project coordination

There are a series of committees, which meet regularly to provide feedback on the project at various levels. The first is at sub-district (Thana) level, the Thana Project Coordination Committee (TPCC), chaired by the Thana Livestock Officer, on which village farmers are represented. At the next level is the Project Coordination Committee (PCC), chaired by the Director General of the DLS. Finally at ministerial level, the Secretary for Livestock chairs the Project Steering Committee (PSC).


With 70–80% of the beneficiaries as poor women farmers, the project pro-actively favours women, and all of the NGOs have similar pro-active policies. The development objective of the project is “to enhance the status of women …” and the impact studies (Alam 1997) of SLDP-1 confirm that as credit group members their status within the family and within the community was enhanced.


Alam, J. (1997). “Impact of smallholder livestock development project in some selected areas of rural Bangladesh”, in Livestock Research for Rural Development (LRRD.) Vol 9(3) 1997.

Alam, J. (1997, unpublished). Socio-Economic Impact of Smallholder Livestock Development Project. Field Survey. October 1997.

Asian Development Bank (1996). Bangladesh: Gender Strategy Study (draft).

Fattah, K.A. (these proceedings). Poultry as a Tool in Poverty Eradication and Promotion of gender Equality.

Saleque, Md. A. (these proceedings) Scaling-up: Critical Factors in Leadership, Management, Human Resource Development and Institution Building in going from pilot project to large scale implementation. The BRAC Poultry Model in Bangladesh.

Backyard Poultry System in the Tribal Areas of Shahpura Block in Jabalpur District, Madhya Pradesh, India

Vijay A Kumtakar

Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
E-mail: [email protected]


This study was undertaken among the ‘Gond’ tribe, which is primarily residing in central India in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The study was undertaken on the existing backyard poultry production system. It was found that poultry keeping was the women's domain and the main reasons given for keeping poultry were (46%) as a source of supplementary income and (45%) consumption during festivals and special occasions. Input and output transactions were mainly conducted in the village. Egg production per hen was in 63% of the cases in the range of 31 to 50 eggs, while 90% of the respondents hatched from 1 to 30 chicks per year. No separate feeding was arranged for chicks and adults. The supplements were broken grains and left-over from the house. Mortality in chicks was high the first 40 days of life. Newcastle was the main disease reported for all birds, but there was no medicine available or vaccinations conducted. It is concluded that there is a need for awareness building, training and systematic planning. It is strongly recommended to establish this neglected sector as a viable ‘semi-organized’ venture in the future.

Key words: Tribes, poultry, production system, India.


The State of Madhya Pradesh occupies an important place in tribal India. The tribal population in the state is about 10.2 million, which is nearly 23 percent of the total tribal population in the country (1991 census). The scheduled areas extend to nearly 13 districts, covering about 65,670 square kilometers. The basic problem of the tribals has been mainly poverty and exploitation.

The ‘Gond’ is a primitive tribe who has been primarily the residents of central India. Traditionally, the Gond practice cattle, pig, sheep and goat rearing and keep poultry as supplementary income. Due to poverty and exploitation, the tribe was almost going into oblivion. A Tribal Commission and a Tribal Welfare Board are constituted to give them protection and plan schemes for their improvement. More than fifty Gond sub-tribes are recognized. In the Shahpura block of Jabalpur district, about 105 small villages have a majority of Gond population, while the proportion is smaller in other villages. Their main occupation was ‘hunting’ and collection of forest produce. They specialize as ‘Tendu Patta (leaves) collectors’. Due to restrictions imposed by Government, the hunting has reduced drastically.

This study is on the existing backyard poultry system with the objective to pave the way for development of backyard poultry into a sustainable income-generating activity for the tribal households.

Definition and terminology

The Backyard Poultry (BYP) terminology as per this study includes the poultry rearing units in which the farm families have 1–10 scavenging adult birds feeding on broken grains, insects, kitchen wastes, green vegetables and leaves and anything edible available in the surrounding areas.

Importance of study

Despite the large number of tribal households having BYP as a traditional practice few studies have been done on the subject in the Central or Eastern Madhya Pradesh and the backyard poultry has not been identified as a focus area in the tribal development programmers. However, according to the literature relating to development and the schemes being implemented BYP seems to have taken a backseat. The state veterinary department did implement a scheme wherein it distributed a few units of ten exotic birds each to a large number of the families, but this program has not been successful. There was yet another scheme in which 200 birds of the White Leghorn breed were being given per selected family, but this too did not succeed.

Why did these Government plans fail and are now given up when most of these tribal families do rear poultry? Thus, for any developmental intervention it was felt necessary to study the realities on the ground as existing in the area.

Objectives of the study

Due to lack of literature, one of the objectives of my research work has been to study the existing system of BYP and the related problems and constraints experienced by the tribal families. The objectives of the study were as follows:

  1. To study the present backyard poultry system in the Gond areas and their poultry rearing practices.

  2. To study the constraints in the backyard poultry practices as listed by the tribal people and their possible solutions.

  3. To suggest simple, low cost practices to enhance sustainable income generation through backyard poultry.

Limitations of the study

There is not much literature available on poultry, which relates to areas where the Gond tribe predominates. BYP is unorganized in the Gond area and that makes it difficult to get reliable data. The sale and purchase of poultry products are ad hoc. It is therefore difficult to get authentic data on their marketing. Feed supplements to the birds are ad hoc making it difficult to study the nature and quality of intake of feed by the birds.

Methodology and location

The study was conducted in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh in central India. The Jabalpur district comprises 13 blocks of which two, i.e. Shahpura and Kundam have a large tribal population. Shahpura was selected for the study. Of the 105 tribal villages in Shahpura block, 12 villages were selected at random for the study. In these villages 54 per cent of the households had BYP. From the households having BYP 100 respondents were selected at random. The majority of the respondents, 46 percent, belonged to the Gond tribe, 14 per cent to the Bharia tribe and 40 per cent were from the scheduled caste and other backward classes as other households besides the tribals rear poultry. With the help of an interview schedule in-depth interviews were conducted with individual respondents. The data were systematically recorded, interpreted and analyzed.


Total income and income from poultry

The data indicated that 67 per cent of the respondents had an annual earning of up to Rs. 700 from poultry. 70 per cent earned up to Rs. 6000 from labor work (agriculture and construction) and 26 per cent earned up to Rs.4000 from agriculture. The data indicated that as income from agriculture was low, there was a dependency on non-farm activities for supplementary income. The climatic conditions are unpredictable and the landholdings becoming smaller with each generation and these factors put pressure on the rural families to look for other sources of income.

The analysis on the socio-economic aspect of BYP indicated that at all levels of rearing, whether eggs, chicks or chicken, BYP has a strong potential as an incomegenerating activity in the tribal areas. The respondents indicated that majority of them earned reasonably from poultry. 45 percent estimated that they sell poultry produce only if there is an urgent necessity of cash. 33 per cent of the respondents expressed that earning from poultry was nil (as they do not consider the barter system as a source of earning), 50 per cent said that their earning was between 0.1 to 4.9 per cent of the total earning, 9 per cent expressed that it was between 5.0 to 8.9 per cent. The remaining 8 per cent earned between 9.0 to 14.9 per cent of the their total cash income from poultry. The families expressed that the income from poultry was meager and that they were afraid to rear poultry in larger numbers for the fear of an outbreak of an epidemic that would kill the entire poultry population.

Percentage of households having BYP

It was found that the higher the percentage of tribal population in a village, the more households had poultry. The number of adult birds ranged from 2 to 10 with about 5–10 chicks. The villages Bothia, Somathy, Chargawan, Ahmedpur, Dongarjhansi, Kohali and Bijouri had on average 50–55 % households with BYP. Families with no backyard either had none or just 1–2 hens. Some villages like Piparia, Chhapra, Jamunia and Ghungri had about 35 % households with BYP. The rest were poor farm families, who either did not have backyard space or migrate for work. They sell their stock of birds prior to migration and acquire new ones upon their return.

Reasons for chicken rearing

76 of 100 respondents said that BYP could be a good source of income. 75 expressed that the birds are used for consumption during festivals and on special occasions. 9 respondents said that bird rearing was their hobby and interest. Only 2 respondents answered that the birds were for traditional rituals and sacrifices. This situation differs in the case of tribal households in Mandla district, also dominated by Gond tribes, where a large percentage of the rural households make use of poultry birds for traditional rituals and sacrifices.

Procurement and sale

91 per cent of the respondents found that there was no problem in procuring or selling birds in the village itself. As far as the sales go, 83 per cent indicated that the avenues were within the village itself and 17 per cent sold to others. The selling price in the village per egg was Rupees 2–3, as expressed by 99 per cent of the respondents; Rupees 35–80 (according to 89 per cent of the respondents) per hen and Rupees 50–120 per cock as indicated by 82 per cent of the respondents.

Nearly 16 per cent expressed a demand for cocks, 45 per cent said that there was a demand for hens, while the remaining 39 per cent expressed a demand eggs.

Preferred poultry breed, egg laying and hatching

96 per cent said that their preference was for the indigenous poultry breeds. It was only 4 per cent, who preferred the exotic birds mainly due to their higher egg laying capacity. 8 per cent of the respondents said that their birds lay between 11–20 eggs/hen/year. 19 per cent that it was 21–30 eggs, 28 per cent had their hens laying 31–40, while 35 per cent said that their hens laid 41–50 eggs per year each. 9 per cent said their hens laid 51–60. The remaining 1 per cent had egg production of 61-70. 31 per cent hatched between 1–10 chicks per year, 59 per cent between 11–30 and 10 per cent had 31–40 chicks hatched per year. The respondents said that they generally do not sell the eggs and prefer to hatch them and rear the chicks, as this is more profitable.

Feeding and annual expenditure

82 per cent of the respondents feed their birds with broken grains as available in the season, but the feeding practices are very casual with no separate feeding for chicks and adults. Household left over food is given to the birds by 18 per cent of the respondents. It is difficult to estimate the diet pattern of the birds because of the ad hoc supplementary feeding pattern. 76 per cent of the respondents said that they do not spend any money on supplementary feed (this meant that they give supplementary feed but did not purchase any). 24 per cent spent Rupees 50–500 annually on feed. This ad hoc feeding system could be a major contributor to under nutrition and malnutrition, leading to unhealthy chicks and their early death.

Early chick mortality and rearing

58 per cent said that the largest number of chicks die in the age group 1–10 days. 19 per cent said that the largest mortality was between 11–20 days. Once the chicks attain the age of 31–40 days, mortality is greatly reduced unless there is an outbreak of viral disease or an epidemic. The indigenous (Desi) birds are generally resistant to the parasitical diseases but not viral diseases. 62 per cent rear the chicks under a bamboo basket, 14 per cent put them in an almirah, 17 per cent have small mud chick houses and 7 per cent said that the chicks find a place for themselves inside the house along with the hen.

Awareness of medication and vaccination programs

Though there is some awareness of the ailments and disease outbreaks in the birds, lack of veterinary services in the villages has led to no control on mortality. Thus, poultry is considered to be the most risky venture by the tribal households as any outbreak of disease or epidemic can wipe out the entire poultry population. The people were able to identify some common diseases, but have no remedy for their control or cure. 66 per cent of the respondents explained that their birds suffer and die of ‘Kata’ (i.e., Newcastle Disease), 4 per cent could identify ‘Fafoondi’ (fungus and toxicity) as the reason for mortality. 30 per cent expressed that they were not aware of and could not identify the diseases. There is a constant fear of disease outbreak and the entire flock getting wiped out. This fear prevents people considering poultry as a sustainable income-generating activity, although a large number of households do rear poultry birds.

General problems

After the interviews and following the discussions with the tribal families the problems that have been observed are:

Other problems were attack by predators (79 per cent), 64 per cent mentioned ‘disease’ as a major problem while 3 per cent mentioned non-availability of feed and medicine. 52 per cent felt that the adult birds are able to look after themselves and they do not need any special protection or security measures, while 17 per cent said that the birds find a place for themselves within the house in a basket or some secure corner. 31 per cent felt that the birds need personal care particularly to prevent attacks of wild cats and snakes.

Recommendations and suggestions from the study

There is a need for awareness building, training and systematic planning which will help develop BYP into a sustainable project for the upliftment of the rural population. Introduction of a dual-purpose bird with a black barred brown plumage (Krishna-J female x Synthetic male) with a higher genetic potential and resembling the ‘Desi’ (indigenous) birds in their physical characteristics, being developed by the scientists of the Agricultural University at Jabalpur, should be popularized with the farm families. This dual-purpose bird will have a triple advantage of the characteristics of the indigenous bird in terms of hardiness and color, high egg laying capacity and high weight gain like those of the exotic birds.

This dual purpose bird will have an egg laying capacity of 120–130 nos. per year in the scavenging (free-ranging) system, and 220–240 nos. per year in the intensive system (characteristics from Krishna-J female) and attains a body weight of 1000 gms. in 6–8 weeks. The egg weight at 40 weeks age would be 50–51 gms having a tinted brown colored eggshell, similar to that of an egg of the ‘Desi’ bird.

Since BYP is an arena of women, a planned effort should be made to develop BYP as a group activity by training a few women as vaccinators and some for manufacturing low cost feed formulations at the village level. If these resources were made available locally and with the synergy available in BYP, family poultry would contribute towards sustainable supplementary income to the tribal households.

The findings of this study indicate that the maximum mortality occurs in the young chick stage. Simple management skills like covering the bamboo baskets with news paper or cowdung for insulation during brooding and protection in winters, creep feeding, low-cost balanced feed formulations, awareness about hygiene for feeding and watering of birds, burning of a lamp or charcoal burner inside the brooder in winter to give warmth to the chicks are some of the simple low-cost management practices suggested by this study to reduce early chick mortality.

The study emphasizes that with the synergy for BYP already existing in the rural areas and with minimum extra labor needed by the women despite their busy schedule, poultry has a possibility of success as a rural cottage industry. The precondition to that would be that a basic minimum medical facility is made available locally.

The results strongly supports the possibilities of establishing this presently neglected sector as a viable ‘semi-organized’ venture in the future by the national and international development agencies as an element of economic development in rural areas.


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