Do you have any idea how important Local chickens are? they play an important role in the livelihood of most rural families in Eastern Africa.
Despite increased use of commercial breeds by large-scale producers, around three-quarters of chicken in the region are indigenous breeds.
Facts about indigenous chicken
The following are some of the basic facts you should know about indigenous chickens:
-Meat and eggs are tastier and preferred by most consumers to those from commercial breeds.
-Initial investment is less than that needed to keep commercial breeds.
-More tolerant to harsh conditions, including diseases, than commercial breeds.
-Can be fed on cheap, locally available feeds.
-When allowed to range freely, they need less supervised feeding or other care.
-Local markets are readily available for both eggs and meat.
-Droppings are rich in nutrients: can be used for composite making, pond fertilizing and as feed for livestock.
How to start
Some of the basic things or items you will need when trying to start raising local chickens will include:
-A farmer will need one cock for every 10 hens
-Water and feed containers
-Carton with ventilation holes
-A sisal sack or wood shavings and A source of vaccine
Selection of the breeding stock
Select a hen that is broody, does not abandon her eggs during hatching and looks after her chicks well.
Select a healthy, strong cock.
Housing space (2mx3m) The poultry house can be used as a brooder basket for chicks, either inside or outside the house.
.House should be raised to protect birds from predators.
l Perches should be provided in the house for chicken to roost at night.
.The house should be well-ventilated.
Improved management practice
-Provide a balanced diet. For example, a handful of maize or local fishmeal and some fresh greens in addition to scavenged feeds like insects, will provide a good diet for one chicken in a day.
-Provide clean water at all times.
Collecting the eggs
.Provide a safe, dry, dark place for the hens to lay.
.Collect eggs daily; write the date on the egg in pencil and store with the broad end fencing upwards.
This helps to ensure the embryo develops properly.
Use only eggs that were laid in the last 14 days.
. Hatch eggs using the mother hen, another broody hen, a surrogate duck or an incubator.
.For hens, make sure the number of eggs chosen for hatching corresponds to the bird body-size. All eggs must fit under the bird.
. For successive hatching (the hen or the surrogate duck sits on eggs for two consecutive clutches), chicks are removed when they hatch and replaced with new eggs.
.After hatching, dispose of egg shells, clean the nest and transfer chicks to a brooder.
.Turn the eggs regularly, especially when using an incubator.
You can use the hen that hatched the young ones or make a brood house for them.
.Provide clean water at all times in shallow, clean troughs.
.Provide soft feeds like flour from cereals or tubers.
.Allow chicks to roam freely when they reach three to four years old.
.Vaccinate chicks against Newcastle disease when they are four days old
Qualities of a good Cock and Hen
A good cock should have clear and shining eyes, alert and protective nature, clean, dry beak and nostrils, clean feathers around the vent, large size relative hens, straight legs, toes and without scaly.
A fibrous hen should appear health and lively, legs less colored in lay, clean, dry beak and nostrils, red comb, the breast born should not be too sharp, straight legs, toes and with no scaly.
Ideal Chicken Housing
An ideal housing structure should have its two long side walls built up to 2.5feet to 3feet from the ground and the rest of the walls fixed with either chicken wire mesh or sticks for good ventilation.
If possible the floor can be of concrete but, a well rammed soil floor is adequate for the poor farmers.
The walls should be smooth to avoid parasites from hiding in the cracks. This can be done by cement and sand or mixture of cow dung and sand to the low income people. The roof should not be leaking to avoid dampness of the litter.