Preventing Disease Entry into Your Kienyeji Farm

The key to preventing diseases from getting into your poultry farm is biosecurity.

Biosecurity in kienyeji chicken farming or any other poultry farming system refers to set of management practices that have been designed to limit or prevent the entry of diseases into the poultry farm. Good biosecurity is essential to successful animal husbandry and good productivity in your poultry enterprise.

Biosecurity is the most effective and also the cheapest mode of disease control in a poultry farm. It ensures that the health as well as the wellbeing of the birds is taken care of and this has the impact of reducing the performance and immunity of your poultry flock.

Every single poultry farmer must ensure that they have put in place strong biosecurity plans that will help keep out the diseases out of the poultry farm. Infectious diseases are usually introduced into the poultry farm in a number of ways. These include the following:-

  • Through the introduction of carrier or sick birds.
  • Through the visitors’ or farmers’ shoes, clothing or vehicles.
  • Through poor disposal of the poultry carcasses and litter.
  • Through contamination in the drinking water that is provided to the birds.
  • Via rodents and wild birds.
  • Through egg transmission
  • Via contaminated feeds and the feeding equipment
  • Via the farmers’ pets
  • Through airborne infections

For you to put in place an effective biosecurity plan that will help prevent the entry of diseases into the poultry farm, there are three important aspects that you will need to factor in. These include the following:-

  • Isolation
  • Control of human traffic
  • Proper Sanitation

Isolation can be done in multiple ways in order to offer optimal biosecurity for your kienyeji chicken. The basic purpose of isolation is to confine the birds in a controlled environment while keeping all the other birds and animals out. The isolation can be achieved in a number of ways:-

  • Through the construction of fences
  • Incorporating an all-in-all-out poultry management: the birds should be kept as a flock from the day they are introduced into the poultry farm to the day they are slaughtered. They shouldn’t be mixed with new flocks. After the slaughter, the house should be washed thoroughly and be disinfected and left vacant for at least two weeks before a new set of birds is introduced. This will ensure that all the pathogens have been killed before they infect the new flock.
  • New birds that are incorporated into the poultry house are likely to be carriers. In case you plan to introduce new birds into the poultry house, make sure that you put them in an isolation unit away from the resident birds. An introduction of new birds into the house may end up wiping out your entire flock. The new birds introduced into the poultry house need to be isolated for between two and four weeks. During this duration, you should observe the birds for any signs of diseases and then treat these as soon as possible.
  • Make sure that you handle the new birds introduced into the farm after you have handled all the other birds. You should also take measures that you obtain the new birds from a reputable supplier who takes extra measures to vaccinate birds and observe proper biosecurity in their farming practice. If you procure your birds from a reliable breeder, chances are that you are going to get high quality disease-free birds.
  • Birds of the same species and which are of the same age should be grouped together. There are certain chickens that may be carriers or resistant to diseases and these may be harmful to other chickens in your farm that are of a different species.
  • Take proper biosecurity measures in order to keep the wild birds and rodents away. The rodents will spread diseases into the farm through their secretions and droppings. You can keep these from your poultry farm by installing wire nets or chicken wire. You should also ensure proper cleanliness and minimize spillage as much as possible. Make sure that there are no dams close to the poultry house as this may likely attract water birds.
  • To keep the birds from stress, ensure that you clear the bushes and shrubs that are situated around the poultry house as these may provide hiding places for some predators and various wild animals.

Human Traffic Control

Human beings pose the biggest risk to the spread of diseases. They can transfer diseases through a number of ways including through their shoes, equipment, hands and clothing among others. You should control how people get into the farm and put in place sanitation measures that will help minimize the spread of diseases.

Download Kienyeji Chicken Farming Manual for additional tips on profitable kienyeji chicken farming.

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Can Sweet Potatoes Be Used as Poultry Feeds?

My area is a major sweet potato producing region so naturally, we have lots of cheap surplus sweet potatoes and over the past month, I have been experimenting with these on poultry feeds in small amounts and the result so far has been great, the chickens have put on weight and are as healthy as ever.

Cooked sweet potatoes
Cooked sweet potatoes

But that led me to dig further to establish the suitability of sweet potatoes as a poultry feed. Like other grains used in poultry feed formulation, sweet potato also contains 90% starch so it should be great for poultry feeding but why isn’t it being used on a large scale in poultry feeds? I did a little research on the internet to establish if this is already happening in other regions, its suitability and the optimal amounts of sweet potato raw materials in poultry feed ingredients that could be considered suitable in terms of the nutritional advantage.

Sweet potato has been used in poultry feeding in some countries like Japan and other Asian nations since the mid 50s. Research has shown that cooked sweet potato is 90% digestible in chicks and can also serve as a protein supplement in the chicks. Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of some essential vitamins and minerals for the poultry.

However, it has been found that chicks that are fed on a starter diet that consists of the traditional grains such as maize reached a slaughter weight faster than those fed on a sweet potato poultry feed diet. Research however shows that meat from poultry that are fed on a diet where the 75% of the corn was replaced with sweet potatoes had a great flavor.

The carbohydrate component in sweet potatoes is 90% digestible in chicks. As an energy source, sweet potatoes are as efficiently used as maize in poultry. However, you have to watch out on the substitution levels. Researchers don’t recommend substituting 100% corn or maize with sweet potatoes. The best feed conversion efficiency has been found where the sweet potato tubers replaced between 25% to 40% of the glucose that is in the basal diet. At this rate, you can get efficient carbohydrate utilization. This can help farmers radically cut down on the cost of feeds. Grains are highly costly and if you can safely substitute 25% to 40% of grains with sweet potatoes and still get an optimal feed conversion, then sweet potato will help a great deal in lowering the cost of poultry feeding.

The research was further extended to two week old birds which were fed sweet potato rations that replaced 0%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the corn between the age of two weeks to six weeks. A comparison on the birds was done based on the feed intake, the weight gain, the feed efficiency, digestibility and dressing percentage. According to the research, the performance of the birds that were fed sweet potatoes was satisfactory at lower rates of substitution but tended to drop at higher levels of substitution which buttresses the first point that sweet potato substitution is most effective when done at lower percentages. Researchers recommend that sweet potato should at most replace only 50% of corn. That is, if you are planning to formulate poultry feeds using sweet potatoes, it should not constitute more than 50% of the carbohydrate content in order to get the best performance from the birds.

I found another interesting research from New Zealand that gives different optimal proportions for use of sweet potatoes in the poultry feeds. This one recommends that:-

  • For young birds that are less than 8 weeks old, you should not use more than 20% sweet potato meal. So if you are mixing a 10kg ration, the sweet potato meal should only constitute 2kg.
  • As the birds grow old, you can gradually increase the ration of sweet potato meal. In laying chickens, the sweet potato meal should never exceed 30%.
  • The main issue is that sweet potato meal is powdery and dusty and this may pose a feed conversion problem.

Another research on use of sweet potato tubers in poultry feed rations.

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Important Factors to Keep in Mind When Preparing Kienyeji Feeds

A growing number of Kenyans are now preparing their own kienyeji feeds for their flock mainly to cut down on the cost of production. However, some still do this in a haphazard manner. They put together all they can lay their hands on be it ugali, food scraps, omena, rotten maize and mix them up and serve their chickens. But is that really the right way? Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you are planning to prepare kienyeji feeds(kienyeji feed formulation) for your flock:

Don’t Use Rotten Maize

It is easy to understand why many farmers use rotten maize to prepare their kienyeji feeds. Not only is it a cheap source of raw material but the farmers feel they are putting maize that could have gone to waste into good use. In my area, the rotten maize is called “makonde” and is quite popular with many poultry farmers due to the low cost.

Avoid Using Rotten Maize in Making Your Kienyeji Feeds
Avoid Using Rotten Maize in Making Your Kienyeji Feeds

But there is a danger in using rotten maize as poultry feeds. The rotten maize may likely contain mycotoxins and chickens can be very sensitive to these. When choosing raw materials for your chicken feeds, go for the best quality. Don’t lower your standards just because you are preparing chicken feed. If the raw material is contaminated, the contamination is most likely going to affect your chickens.

Use Quality Fishmeal

Another popular raw material used in preparing poultry feeds is fishmeal, particularly omena and ochong’a(very tiny fishes, smaller than omena). These are a great source of proteins and omega 3s.

Get Your Omena from a Reputable Source
Get Your Omena from a Reputable Clean Source

However, make sure you source your omena and other fishmeal from reputable sources where the raw material has been handled well and has not undergone a lot of contamination. If you have the means, you can procure these raw materials directly from the beaches instead of buying them in the open air markets.

Do Experimental Trials

If you are making homemade poultry feed rations, make sure you do experimental feed trials on your first feed formulation. Isolate a few chickens and feed them on your homemade feed and monitor their health and performance. If the chickens are still laying eggs normally and blooming normally and are not showing any signs of complications, then you are good to go.

Do a Pre Trail to Establish the Safety of Your Poultry Feed
Do a Pre Trail to Establish the Safety of Your Poultry Feed

Mix the Micronutrients Beforehand

If you will be adding micronutrients and other pre-mixes that you have purchased in the poultry feed, make sure these are mixed beforehand before you mix them with the rest of the poultry feed. Know the right proportion to add in the poultry feed. (Check out kienyeji feed formulation manual for information on the proportions of nutrients that you should have in a well formulated poultry feed).

Use Drum Mixer

The cheapest poultry feed miller and mixer will cost you about Ksh.100,000 to import from China via platforms such as Alibaba. If you can’t afford this, try to improvise. Avoid using a stick or a shovel to mix the ingredients in the poultry feed. Instead, get a simple drum mixer from a local juakali artisan and use this to mix the content of the poultry feed ingredients uniformly.

A Drum Mixer Can Help You Obtain a More Uniform Poultry Feed Mixture
A Drum Mixer Can Help You Obtain a More Uniform Poultry Feed Mixture in the absence of a poultry feed milling machine. You can even use a juakali one.

Know the Dangers of Spoilt Maize

We can stress this enough. Get quality maize with which to formulate your kienyeji feed. Spoilt or rotten maize may have mycotoxins that will not just affect the poultry performance but may pass on to the human system through poultry meat and eggs and end up causing some health complications.

Take advantage of group buying

If you can form a small buyers’ group with other farmers, you can buy some of the poultry feed ingredients such as amino acids and pre-mixes in bulk and then share these equally amongst yourselves. This will make it easier for you to acquire hard to get poultry feed ingredients and additives.

Group Buying Can Help You Save on the Cost of Poultry Feed Additives
Group Buying Can Help You Save on the Cost of Poultry Feed Additives

Test Your Poultry Feed in a Lab

In order to constantly improve the quality of your formulated poultry feed, you should constantly take your formulated poultry feed to a lab for testing purposes. The KARI Centre in Naivasha has a modern well-equipped lab where you can take your poultry feed of testing to determine if it is well balanced for the age of the birds. The KARI lab can even test the quality of the feed ingredients used in the poultry feed formulation. Testing a sample costs about Ksh.1000. Once you have formulated your poultry feed, take 1kg to the KARI lab for testing.

Raw Material Suppliers

Most of the raw materials such as soybean, maize, wheat bran, fishmeal etc are easy to procure. However, if you wish to buy some supplies such as poultry feed additives and pre-mixes, you can go to some specialty stores such as Tarime Suppliers located close to City Stadium in Nairobi and Essential Drugs Ltd situated along Mombasa Road.

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Best Feeds for Kienyeji Chicken

The typical farmer raising Kienyeji chickens does not have to stick to a very rigid feeding routine. Typically, the farmer will start with chicken mash up to 8 weeks and then transition the chickens to growers mash from 8 weeks onwards. After that, the chicken feed is supplemented with other food waste from the house such as ugali as well as with fishmeal and the feeds they pick up when roaming about in a free range environment.

Chicken Feeding
Chicken Feeding

From 8 weeks onwards, you can begin supplementing their formulated feed such as growers mash with other food sources which should mainly consists of grains. From here, some farmers will simply feed the chickens on maize, some soya and fish meal. If your kienyeji are layers, you may also try and supplement their feed with some layers’ mash in order to boost laying performance. However, there is still a great deal of confusion on what to feed your kienyeji beyond the age of eight weeks. Farmers have varied approaches. While some will go the route of the formulated feeds, some allow the chickens to fully forage in order to cut down on the cost of production. To clear the confusion, one company has entered the fray in order to offer farmers a reliable kienyeji mash that they can feed their chickens from start to finish. This is Unga Farm Care and their Fugo Kienyeji range is proving popular with many commercial kienyeji farmers in Kenya.

Unga Farm Care Kienyeji Mash

This is a product that many Kienyeji farmers have been waiting for a long time. The manufactured Unga Farm Care kienyeji mash is already available in numerous outlets across the country.

The Fugo kienyeji range has been specially formulated to serve as a supplemental diet for kienyeji chickens.

The product has been formulated in such a way that it is suitable for both birds that are free ranging and those that are kept in confinement. This is product is a godsend for the industry where hundreds of thousands of farmers across the country are already involved in small to medium scale kienyeji chicken farming.

You can’t feed the same kind of formulation to the bird right from hatching to slaughter. It is important to keep in mind that every stage of the bird’s growth has unique nutritional requirements and these must be provided in order to attain the required growth and production. The bird will only reach its genetic potential if its nutritional requirements are adequately met.

Unga Farm Care has formulated different categories of poultry feeds that will cater for each and every stage of the bird’s growth. This will ensure that there is better productivity and maximum return on investment for the farmer.

While kienyeji birds are generally considered has hardy birds, they should be provided with good housing, the right stocking density, vaccination and optimal feeding programs to help the birds hit their genetic potential.

 

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Constructing a Chicken House in Kenya: Simple Requirements

 

Building Kienyeji chicken house doesn’t have to be rocket science yet it is one area that many farmers generally get wrong. Many poultry diseases and productivity issues are a result of poor poultry housing. As a poultry farmer, you can get this process right from the word go by constructing poultry house that will meet the minimum requirements and create an optimal environment for your kienyeji chickens.

Kienyeji Chicken House
Kienyeji Chicken House

Here is a look at some of the simple requirements that you need to keep in mind when constructing a poultry house for your chickens:-

Watch on the Chicken House Orientation

The kienyeji chicken house or any other poultry house should have an orientation (width) that is in the east-west direction. Such an orientation will ensure that all parts of the poultry house receive adequate sunshine. Lighting is very important in a poultry farming enterprise as it helps in stimulating ovulation and helps boost the egg laying performance in the chickens. Optimal lighting will also help the chickens to easily locate the feeders and drinkers in the chicken house and this helps facilitate optimal feeding, leading to better productivity.

The Height of the Wall

The height of the chicken house from the ground should be 3 feet while the height from the ground to the roof should be 7 feet. Two sides of the poultry house should have at 3 feet of solid wall and 4 feet of the wire mesh. The ends facing the east and west direction should be fully solid.

Flooring

The poultry flooring should be made from concrete to ensure ease of cleaning. This will also help prevent dampness in the poultry house.

Foot dip

Put a foot dip with some disinfectant at the entrance of the poultry house. Everyone entering the poultry farm or poultry house should dip their feet in the poultry house before getting in to help prevent diseases and infections.

Stocking Density

Before you embark on the construction of the kienyeji chicken house, factor in the number of chickens that you plan to raise. For kienyeji chickens, the ideal stocking density should be one square feet per bird. If you are planning to keep 500 kienyeji chickens, then the you should build a chicken house that is 500 square feet.

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