Choosing Between the Five “Kienyeji” Breeds in Kenya

If you are not planning to raise exotic breeds commercially either for meat or eggs, the other option is to go for the hybrid poultry breeds in Kenya that do not require intensive damage and can do well in free range or semi-free range conditions.

In Kenya, currently, there are five main poultry breeds that you can raise in “kienyeji” conditions. These are:-

  • The original Kienyeji chicken
  • KARI Improved Kienyeji chicken
  • Kuroiler chicken
  • Kenbrow chicken
  • Rainbow Rooster chicken

An overview of the characteristics of the original Kienyeji chicken

  • Purpose: They can be reared for both meat and eggs
  • Mature in 6 months
  • Produce 3 to 10 eggs per month
  • Cocks will weigh 1.3kg to 1.8kg when fully matured
  • Hens will weigh 1.2kg to 1.5kg when mature
  • Normal feeding
  • Excellent sitting or brooding behavior
  • Very high resistance to diseases

KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken Characteristics

  • Raised for both meat and eggs
  • Will mature in five and a half months
  • Lay 15 to 20 eggs per month
  • Cocks weigh 2.0kg to 2.2kg when fully mature
  • Hens weigh 1.5kg to 1.8kg when mature
  • Normal feeding. No intensive feeding requirements
  • Good sitting characteristics especially for the multi-colored variety.
  • High resistance to diseases

Kuroiler Chicken Characteristics

  • They are raised for both meat and eggs
  • They mature in five months
  • Lay 18 to 20 eggs per month
  • Cocks weigh 2.2kg to 2.5kg when fully matured
  • Hens weigh 1.8kg to 2.0kg when mature
  • Medium feeding requirements
  • Have poor sitting characteristics
  • Low resistance to diseases hence high cost for medication

Kenbro Characteristics

  • Raised for eggs and meat
  • Mature in 4 to 5 months
  • Kenbro chickens lay 20 to 25 eggs per month
  • Cocks weigh 2.2 to 2.5kg when mature
  • Hens weigh 1.9kg to 2.2kg when mature
  • Heavy feeding requirements
  • No sitting characteristics
  • Low resistance to diseases

Rainbow Rooster Characteristics

  • Can be raised for both meat and eggs
  • Mature in 5 months
  • Lay 20 to 25 eggs per month
  • Cocks weigh 1.9kg to 2.2kg
  • Hens weigh 1.9 to 2.2kg
  • Medium feeding requirements
  • No sitting characteristics
  • They have low resistance to diseases

Check out the table below for a side-by-side comparison of the various “kienyeji” or hybrid chicken breeds that you can raise in Kenya under less intensive conditions.

Comparison of the Five Kienyeji Breeds
Comparison of the Five Kienyeji Breeds
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Common Diseases Likely to Affect Your Kienyeji Chicks

Diseases are some of the common causes of high mortality in chicks. Some of the most common ones include the following:-

Omphalitis

Omphalitis is an infection of the navel. Characteristics include inflammation of the skin in the navel area as well as a soft and a distended abdomen that is a little flabby. There will also be pasting in the vents as well as a foul smell on the carcass which occurs due to an unabsorbed yolk. Chick suffering from omphalitis will look depressed and have drooping heads. Because this is a bacterial disease, it can spread fairly quickly to the other chicks leading to very high losses.

Pullorum

Pullorum refers to an acute infection and a fatal bacterial disease that affects chicks. It is characterized by white diarrhea, ruffled feathers, chirping, labored breathing and eventually death. Sometimes, chicks suffering from Pullorum may suffer without displaying these symptoms.

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is also an acute and fast spreading disease that affects chickens of al ages. Symptoms of the disease include omphalitis, rise in the body temperatures, presence of infectious organisms in the chicken’s blood as well as an enlargement of the spleen. It also causes death. In chicks, particularly, salmonellosis results in a very high death rate in the brooding area.

Colibacillosis

This is also an acute bacterial infection that affects the chicks’ blood system. The disease affects chickens of all ages and can spread fast leading to high mortalities in chicks that are newly hatched.

The key to preventing these bacterial infections is strict biosecurity. Ensure that the brooding area, feeds and the water are kept clean. You have to observe a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene to prevent these acute bacterial infections from occurring.

 

Some of the measures that you can undertake to improve the biosecurity and reduce diseases and mortality rates include the following:-

  • Reduce overcrowding: Overcrowding is one of the major factors for the spread of bacterial infections. Ensure that the floor space, feeder space and water space is adequate for the birds. This will not only prevent overcrowding but it will also reduce dampness of the litter and starvation in the poultry house. Dampness of litter can easily lead to the multiplication of disease pathogens.
  • The chicks must be handled properly during the vaccination. Take measures that will help avoid injuries and contamination as these will lead quickly lead to infections.
  • Maintain proper humidity in the poultry house. Dampness in the brooder house will lead to a multiplication of the disease causing pathogens. Dampness and poor ventilation can also lead to the accumulation of toxic gases which might cause other serious diseases.
  • The brooder house should protect the chickens from other predators and pests such as rats, cats and dogs among others.
  • Provide proper ventilation in the poultry house that will help regulate the temperature inside the brooders. Proper ventilation will also help remove harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, ammonia as well as dust, odour and moisture. The brooder house should have good and uniform access to fresh air.
  • Provide adequate lighting in the brooding house. Chick activity is generally high when there is adequate lighting.
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How to Prevent Your Kienyeji Chicks from Dying

When you purchase your first stock of day old kienyeji chicks, the expectation is that they are going to survive 100%. However, that is not always realizable. Even with best efforts at husbandry on your part, losses will always occur in your chicks. It could be due to diseases or accidents. What matters is the scale of the losses.

Kienyeji Chicks
Kienyeji Chicks

It is reasonable to have a mortality rate of 1% to 5%. This is regarded as the normal range. However, if you lose more 5% of your kienyeji chicks, then you need to start re-evaluating the management factors that you are using and make immediate interventions to reduce losses.

There are certain causative factors which if not checked, are likely to wipe out your entire kienyeji chicken flock, leading to significant losses. Causes of mortality in young chicks are often due to the following:-

Genetic Factors

Sometimes, your chicks are dying in large numbers due to certain genetic factors such as the congenital tremors and congenital loco. These will cause death in chicks within the first week after they are hatched. The best control measure is to buy your day old chicks from a reputable source who take measures to select against such genes.

Management Factors

This is probably the leading cause of mortality in young chicks. Unfortunately, many farmers venture into poultry farming without enough knowledge and experience into proper poultry husbandry so they end up making mistakes that lead to high mortality.

Some of the most common management mistakes that might cause high mortality in your kienyeji chicks include the following:-

  • High brooding temperatures: In our Kienyeji Chicken Farming Manual, we have offered a detailed overview of the right temperatures that you should maintain for your chicks as well as how you can gradually step down the temperatures with time as the chicks grow older. High temperatures are likely to cause dehydration. Since the border of the young chicks consist of 70% water, high temperatures is likely to lead to loss of water which can lead to dehydration and subsequently, death.
  • Pasting: If the brooder house has high temperatures, pasting is likely to occur in your kienyeji chicks. Pasting refers to the sticking of the faeces around the vents which causes blockage and subsequently, the untimely death of your chicks.
  • Low brooding temperatures: On the other hand, low brooding temperatures is likely to cause chilling and pneumonia which can kill your chicks in very large numbers. Low brooding temperatures will also cause the chicks to huddle together around corners so as to as feel warm. The overcrowding will result in smothering and often, death.

As a poultry farmer, it is important to take the appropriate measures ion temperature control so as to minimize the effects of low temperatures. Make sure the room is optimally warm to accommodate the young birds. Provide adequate heating and observe the behavior of the birds when there is heating in order to establish whether you have provided the right amount of heat.

Make sure that you maintain the right amount of temperatures throughout the birds’ brooding period. Check out our improved kienyeji chicken farming manual for guidance on the right amount of temperatures to maintain in your brooder.

Feeding related factor

Provide adequate and clean food and ensure that the feeding troughs are evenly distributed in the poultry house. One of the most common causes of high mortality in young chicks is feed poisoning either through toxins or fungal contamination. A common source of toxins is tannin that is found in saw dust used in the poultry house.

Other risks include too much salt in the drinking water as well as toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, ammonia and carbon dioxide. The gas problem can be managed through proper ventilation of the brooder area.

Additionally, ensure that you have provided adequate and clean drinking water. As we have variously stated, your chickens will never forgive you for failure to provide adequate clean drinking water. Dehydration will significantly affect your poultry performance.

Diseases

Finally, there is the risk of diseases. Make sure that you purchase your day old chicks from a reputable supplier who will have vaccinated the chicks before distributing them to the customer. Chicks have low immunity levels so it is imperative that they are properly vaccinated with the right vaccines as soon as they hatch. High levels of hygiene should also be maintained to prevent the onset of any opportunistic infections.

 

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FeedCalculator: Make High Quality Poultry Feed With this Innovative App

Struggling to formulate poultry feed for your kienyeji chickens? It is no rocket science and there is now an even ingenuous app that you can download, install and start formulating your feeds with locally available recipes.

Poultry Feed Formulation Android App
Poultry Feed Formulation Android App

Called the Feed Calculator, the poultry feed formulation app was created by some of the leading livestock experts and animal nutritionists in the Netherlands in partnership with farmers  in developing countries such as Kenya.  It has also been tested with poultry farmers in Tanzania with incredible results, allowing farmers to easily formulate well balanced poultry feed rations that improve their yields. The App is currently available on Android and can be freely downloaded on Google Play Store.

The Feed Calculator app has been designed to generate high quality and well balanced poultry feed formulations from ingredients that are locally available and easily accessible. It has been described as a game changer for many smallholder farmers in Kenya and around Africa. From its pilot testing in Tanzania, farmers were able to use the app to double their profits by formulating their own high quality poultry feeds.

According to the Feed Calculator pre-test results, the broilers that were fed on poultry feed rations generated by the app had 15% higher weight and the Feed Calculator app was able to reduce the cost of feeding by 31%. This led to an 80% increase in poultry profits for smallholder farmers thanks to the higher weight for the birds and the lower feed costs.

This app now revolutionizes poultry feeding for many smallholder farmers. Instead of relying on expensive commercial feeds, farmers are now able to use a readily accessible app and technology to make their own poultry feeds which leads to a significant boost in profits.

Simple Poultry Feed Formulation From Your Smartphone

A farmer who used the app to formulate their poultry feeds for their broilers said that the app enabled them to double their income in just six weeks. Farmers who used FeedCalculator also contended that their chickens were growing faster from their own formulated poultry feeds. Farmers were able to raise chickens that were both heavier and healthier than before.

Poultry Feeds Account for 70% of Poultry Production Costs

The app is expected to be boost for poultry farmers. Currently, poultry feeds account for up to 70% of the cost of production in a poultry enterprise. Farmers who rely on commercial feeds have a hard time making profits from their enterprises due to the cost of feeds.

With the Feed Calculator, the farmer already has the list of ingredients and the formula with which they should be mixed. The farmer only needs to purchase the ingredients and make their own feeds using a proven recipe that boosts chicken performance.

Feed Formulation is Complex

Poultry feed formulation is generally a very complex affair and is usually carried out only by people who have the specialized knowledge on how to mix the different feed ingredients to create an optimal ration.

You have to mix different ingredients in order to obtain the right energy levels and create a high quality balanced feed for the lowest price. This is called least cost poultry feed formulation. This is where FeedCalculator comes in. It demystifies the process of poultry feed formulation and makes it possible for every farmer to create their own poultry feeds.

How the FeedCalculator App Works

The mobile app works by simply prompting the farmer to enter the following details:-

  • The poultry breed
  • Age of the chickens
  • The available local ingredients for poultry feeds: You can find the ingredients in our poultry feed formulation manual.
  • Prices for the ingredients

From this data, the app will compute the most-efficient way to mix the poultry feeds using algorithms of some of the leading poultry feed formulation experts.

The FeedCalculator app is free if you want to formulate poultry feeds for less than 1000 chickens. If you are a large scale commercial farmer rearing more than 1000 chickens and looking for a recipe for your chickens, you will be charged $50 per year or $10 per two months.

You can download the app on Google App Store. For more information about the FeedCalculator app, check out https://www.feedcalculator.com/.

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The First 7 Days are Important for the Survivability of Your Chicks

I have been raising poultry, primarily kienyeji chicken, since 2014 and I plunged into the industry with zero knowledge about chickens. So I had to literally learn on the job, incur some losses and build some experience over the years. One of the ways I mitigated losses and reduced the difficulty level in raising poultry was by totally avoiding the day old chicks. I would let a more experienced farmer raise them to six weeks or 2 months and then purchase them at that age.

That has its advantages and disadvantages. The risk of mortality is significantly reduced at that age and there is less intensive management required for the young chicks. The disadvantage is that at that age, the chicks are already too costly, typically going for between Ksh.250 and Ksh.300 from my local farmer. Considering I still have to feed them for another 3 months before they are ready for market, my margins are often significantly reduced. If you manage to just put in some good management and sell them in my time, I am still operating on the edge of the margins. It is a close shave and you only make good money if keep a huge number of them.

If you can manage the management headache, starting from day old chicks can be cheaper over the long run. To obtain good results during the first 7 days in the lives of your day old chicks, you have to get 5 factors right. These include:-

  • Feed
  • Water
  • Oxygen
  • Light
  • Temperatures

Feed

This is the most essential ingredient required to achieve results for your day old chicks. Not only should you provide the right feed in the right amounts, but the feed should also be optimally positioned in the chicken shed to prevent overcrowding and for easy access.

In order for your chicks to be well fed during the first few days so that they can have proper growth, ensure that the heights of feeders and drinkers used are neither greater nor lower than the height of the backs of the chickens. The feeders and drinkers should not be put closely together but at proportionate distances each other so they can feed and drink comfortably.

Water

Chickens will never “forgive” you for insufficient water supply. Ensure that they are provided with fresh and clean drinking water at all times.

Oxygen

The poultry house must be well aerated and well ventilated. A stuffy chicken shed will likely cause various health conditions due to the accumulation of dust and gases such as ammonia. Avoid closing all vents in the poultry house so as to compensate for heat. Just like humans, chickens also need lots of fresh air to breathe. If you will be using charcoal to heat your poultry house, you should keep in mind that the charcoal will eat up the oxygen and you must therefore provide adequate ventilation in the kienyeji chicken house.

Light

Lighting is very key to optimal poultry performance, even in kienyeji chickens. Chickens can’t eat in the dark. They need the light to access the feeding troughs and drinkers. Natural lighting is the best but if you are planning to hang lamps in your poultry house, make sure that the lamps are of the right height so as to illuminate over a wide area. It is also advisable to implement an optimal lighting program for your poultry as this will stimulate feeding, leading to greater productivity.

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