All posts by kienyeji

Eggs for Kenya: How to Get the Best Layer Performance in Kenya

It is possible to get very good laying performance with the current chicken breeds in Kenya, particularly the commercial layers. Even the improved kienyeji chicken breeds delivers a fairly good laying performance.

Egg production in Kenya
Egg production in Kenya

However, to get the best out of your layers, it is important to understand the laying capabilities of your chickens. You must also learn how to properly budget for your layer feeds from when they are day old to the time they hit the point of lay; know when to expect the first eggs, when to expect peak production in your layers, the duration of lay of your chickens as well as how to differentiate your laying chickens from the non-layers. All this information will guide you on how best to optimize your production for the best performance.

If you are raising chickens to lay eggs, you must not be “farm blind”. Make sure that you fully grasp all the factors that will impact the production of eggs.

The number of eggs that your chickens will lay will depend on a number of factors. These variables include the breed of the chickens, the management of the pullets before they begin laying eggs, the management of lighting in the poultry production system, management of poultry nutrition as well as the management of the space that is available for raising your layers.

The Chicken Breed

As a farmer, you have to decide on the best layer chicken breeds that you are going to rear. Consult widely in order to choose the best breeds that will give you the desired performance. After choosing your preferred breed, look for quality breeders or hatcheries that supply this breed that will guarantee you of optimal egg production.

However, the breed alone will not guarantee you optimal egg production from your layers. Ultimately, the quality of your flock management will determine whether your layers hit their genetic potential and produce the desired number of eggs.

The Pullet Management

The pullets must be managed well for them to produce a good number of eggs later on. The management must focus on the nutrition, lighting and the control of diseases.

When they are at the point of lay, the pullets will weigh about 1.5kg. A  bird should not lay eggs before it has attained the right size otherwise it is likely to suffer from the prolapses of the cloaca.

 

The layers should be dewormed after every 8 weeks and debeaked when they are between eight weeks and twelve weeks.

Debeaking is a delicate task and you must call in a qualified poultry expert to do the debeaking. The lower beak of the hen should generally be longer as this will allow the hen to scoop the food.  The pullet management is a critical stage so it must be managed properly as it will impact the overall success or failure of your poultry farming enterprise.

Light Management

Lighting is one of the most important factors in layer performance. Light plays an important role in the poultry growth, reproduction and behavior. As a farmer, you must manage the lighting efficiently and maintain it an optimal level that will support efficient production.

Reproduction-wise, lighting will impact the sexual maturity of your chickens. The layers will need 24 hour of lighting during their first four weeks. Increasing the day length will increase the rate of sexual maturity of the birds and they are likely to begin laying eggs early.

However, if your pullets are stimulated to begin laying eggs earlier than usual, such as before 17 or 18 weeks, the chickens will likely not hit their lifetime genetic laying potential. To hit maximum egg production, you must provide the chickens with up to 16 hours of lighting during their peak lay.

The lighting duration should never be reduced when the chickens are in lay. However, watch out not to provide the hens with too much lighting. Too much lighting is likely to bring out various abnormal behaviors in your poultry such as aggression, egg eating and cannibalism.

Layer Nutrition

In order to sustain optimal egg production over the laying period, the layer chickens must be fed a balanced diet. The layer chickens will require proteins, energy, vitamins, minerals and fats. However poultry feeding is costly, particularly for layer chickens. Generally, poultry feeding costs alone generally account for 70% of the entire production costs. This can drive some farmers into seeking shortcuts such as the adulteration of poultry feeds that will most certainly distort the poultry feed formulation for the layer chickens and the layer performance.

Between day old and 8 weeks old, a single layer chicken will consume 2kg of chick mash. A single pullet will consume 7kg of the growers mash between the ages of 9 weeks and 20 weeks. Cumulatively, a layer chicken will consume 50kg of the poultry mash throughout their entire optimal laying life that lasts 12 months. You can multiply this by the number of layers in your flock to estimate the total feeding costs for your layers.

In case you find your hens eating more, there is likely some spillage or poor feed conversion. For example, spillage can occur when your chickens eat more when it is cold.

Water

Water is also very critical to the survival and performance of your birds. As we have stated repeatedly, your chickens will never forgive you if you fail to provide them with fresh and adequate amounts of water. It is likely to affect their performance and productivity over the long haul.

During normal temperatures, your chickens will consume more two times more water than feeds. In high temperatures, the water consumption may even triple or quadruple their feed consumption. Always ensure that the birds are sufficiently supplied with fresh and adequate amounts of water so as to ensure good egg production.

Floor Space

The floor space also factors into the performance of your layers. Give each of your layers at least two square feet of space. You can also add some perches where some of the birds can roost at night.

The perches will also concentrate manure at single points that makes cleaning the poultry houses a lot easier. Perches also fill an instinctual need. Chickens have a natural desire to perch so providing this allows them to express their natural behavior which is good for their welfare.

The floor should be covered with wood shavings that will cushion the birds and absorb the moisture. Make sure that you also provide enough nesting areas for the laying birds. The nesting areas should be situated in corners away from the feeders and the waterers.

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The Dos and Don’ts When it Comes to Chick Brooding

The toughest phase in raising your kienyeji chickens is during the chick brooding. This is the period when they are most delicate and where mistakes can be quite costly.

Many farmers prefer to start raising the chicks on their own right from the first day when the chicks are one day old. It is generally cheaper to acquire chicks at this stage so you can build a fairly large flock within a very short period of time.

Diagram of Chick Brooder Setup
Diagram of Chick Brooder Setup

However, the chick brooding stage requires special as well as intensive care in order to boost the survivability of the chicks. The problem is that many of the farmers who acquire the chicks are generally insufficiently prepared for the first few weeks. As a result, they end up incurring high mortality and huge losses that can easily be avoided.

The first few weeks of the chicks’ life is important not just for the survivability. The chicks may survive but if you didn’t give them optimal care during this stage, it may still end up impacting their physiological and development processes and thus impacting their yield.

One of the most critical factors during this stage is warmth. It is imperative that the chicks are given optimal warmth and protection. In natural brooding setting, the mother’s body and feathers is sufficient to supply the kids with optimal natural warmth.

However, in an artificial brooding environment, you have to try and recreate this environment to boost the chicks chances. You have to ensure that you are getting the artificial brooding conditions. That will require consulting widely and acquiring the right equipment for the task. The type of brooding conditions that you provide will have an impact on the chicks’ growth.

The Brooder

To prevent the chicks from huddling in one corner and thereby overcrowding and getting injured or suffocated, it is advisable that you use the brooder rings which are quite advantageous as they do not have corners.

Infrared Chick Brooder
Infrared Chick Brooder

Additionally, you must make sure that you have fumigated and disinfected the poultry house before you introduce the chicks into the poultry house.

The chicks are generally quite sensitive and delicate while they are still young so the farmer must go the extra mile to provide a sterile environment where they can grow safely.

Make sure that the litter and the bedding is disinfected and dried before they are spread on the brooder ring to line the flooring.

You can also use a newspaper layer to line the litter in the poultry house. This should also be sprayed lightly with some disinfectant. Make sure that you change the newspaper lining on a regular basis, at least after every two to three days. When it comes to raising day old chicks, you must never compromise on the hygiene.

Temperature

Chicks are covered in light feathers that offer very little insulation from the temperature extremes. This makes them fully reliant on the external heat source for survival. If you don’t provide optimal brooding temperatures, the chicks are either going to die from cold or heat stress.

Low temperatures will stunt the growth of the chicks as the feeds they take in is converted into heat instead of being used to power their growth. In brooding conditions, you must there provide a reliable external heat source such as infra-red heating system or just the normal jikos or ovens that will provide the chicks with sufficient heat.

The heat source provided in the brooding area must be centrally situated inside the brooder ring. During the first week, maintain the temperatures at 32 degrees Celsius.

When introducing heat into the brooding area, make sure that you carefully observe the chick behavior. If it is too hot inside the brooder ring, the chicks will move away from the heat source. If it is too cold, the chicks are going to huddle together under the heat source. If the temperatures are ok, the chicks will be evenly distributed inside the brooder ring.

Lighting

The brooder must be supplied with adequate lighting. The lighting is necessary to help the day old chicks locate the food and water inside the brooder ring. During the first 7 days after the chick placement, make sure that you provide bright lighting inside the brooder ring.

However, as the chicks grow older, make sure that you reduce or step down the lighting gradually so as to prevent cannibalism in the birds.

Ventilation

You must maintain very good air quality inside the brooder ring. This is particularly important if you are using the charcoal burners to keep the poultry house warm. A high accumulation of carbon monoxide in the poultry house is likely to lead to gas poisoning. On the other hand, a high concentration of ammonia gas in the poultry house is likely to cause ammonia burns and blindness in your chickens.

Vaccination

We have provided a vaccination schedule for your kienyeji chicken on this website that you must make sure you follow religiously. Also, make sure you provide the chicks with multivitamins before and after the vaccination.

Feed and Water

You can start your chicks off with a starter mash and eventually, you will introduce them into a grower mash. Make sure you provide the chicks with clean and fresh water at all times. Chickens will never forgive you if you fail to meet their water needs. It is likely to impact their development and productivity over the long term. During the early stages, you can also supply the chicks with a chick booster which is a mixture of glucose and vitamins.

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GET FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR A POULTRY VALUE CHAIN INTERVENTION OR INVESTMENT IN KENYA AND EAST AFRICA

Businesses or proposed interventions are constantly faced with uncertainties. Building up a network of customers, having them willing to continually spend on your product or service and achieving the desired profits or objectives may many times be an uphill task.  Proper forethought and careful planning is therefore necessary to allay your fears and give you’re the information you need to take the desired steps. A Feasibility study therefore gives you that much needed opportunity to ask the relevant questions and get the answers that enables you to have a clear assessment of potential and thus predict the possibility of success or failure.

It is therefore imperative that before making an investment in the poultry value chain or an intervention on poultry with smallholder farmers a feasibility study be carried.

Possible objectives of a poultry feasibility study

 A reliable study can include one or more of the following areas:

  • Understand those attributes that help drive poultry consumption that also includes the functional and emotional features across each consumer segment.
  • Carry out assessment of consumer perceptions and their understanding of quality chicken, eggs and feed and their ability and readiness to pay a premium price for quality and other attributes.
  • Assessment of marketing strategies, poultry production models by producers and processors, distribution, promotion and marketing, highlighting weaknesses and the opportunities that exist in the value chain.
  • Be able to understand and describe the consumer segments.
  • Determination of consumer purchase decisions based on the various poultry products and inputs.
  • Quantify the poultry market by product and regions and what informs purchase decision to settle on a particular poultry product or input.
  • Determine availability of poultry products.
  • Look at the policy and regulatory issues and their impact on consumption and marketing.
  • Be able to identify and give strategic recommendations, capacity and policy issues that need to be addressed in market expansion both within and beyond borders.
  • Analysis of Kenyan poultry feed industry and final wholesale and retail market
  • Analysis of Kenyan poultry production industry and final wholesale and retail market
  • Recommended actions to increase farmer profitability & identify investment opportunities

With these information, an investor or a nongovernmental organization will make the necessary decisions that ensure maximum profits and impact.

Conducting surveys, desk reviews and collecting and recording responses into databases.

In addition to conducting data collection using tools developed we collate and review relevant documents and records relating to the assignment and previous market study reports for poultry.

 Providing analysis and reporting of results, including:

  • Summary of key findings
  • Summary of recommendations
  • Tables and graphs to present findings for questions outlined in the scope of work
  • Basic narrative to accompany graphic representation of findings

ACTIVITES

 Specific Result areas /deliverables under this assignment may include

Detailed analysis of the poultry /chicken feed market to document

  1. Carry out analysis of the poultry – chicken feed industry to determine key developments in – sources of raw materials , cost of raw materials and its impact on the final cost of processed feed .
  1. Identify key players marketing and involved in chicken feed processing ,marketing and their relative significance ( market share) and volumes traded in past three years.
  1. Assess the current and projected supply – demand gap including imports and exports
  1. Carry comparative analysis of cost of feed raw materials and how it impact the overall competitiveness ( feed processing ) of the chicken industry in Kenya ( cost per kg of feed and cost per chicken).
  1. Provide a detailed analysis of the poultry feed industry future outlook by focusing on investment opportunities in ;
  1. Feed processing / production
  2. Marketing and distribution

The assignment will take a maximum of 33 days working closely with ELEGANT TASTE, farmers owned companies, research institutions, chicken processors, government officials, supermarkets and other poultry marketing players among other key players in the poultry value chain.

TASKS AND DELIVERABLES

 We work on achieving certain key tasks and deliverables which may include among others:

 Detailed presentation of the current production and marketing model and emerging opportunities

  • Detailed analysis of the developments and key players in processed chicken market in Kenya.
  • An analysis of supply / demand gap in the chicken market.
  • Comparative analysis of chicken production and consumption trends over periods of time.
  • Detailed analysis of the current and emerging investment opportunities in production, processing and marketing – distribution

INVESTOR REQUIREMENTS

 We assist investors gain information to make sound investment decisions.

  • Reliable market research to enable investor make investment decision.
  • Analyze business processes, strategies , markets and develop strategies to optimize returns on investment.

If you require services in value chain mapping or feasibility studies in the poultry value chain contact us through the following contacts:

Email: improvedkienyeji@gmail.com

Telephone: +254711417887

current and future market outlets and investing opportunities.

 

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TRAINING AND ESTABLISHMENT OF POULTRY FARMS

Adequate training and proper business set up is a prerequisite to any organization willing to work with smallholder farmers in the poultry value chain or any investor willing to make substantial investments in the chicken, feed industry and processing industry. It is prudent to put in place a farmer or employee training plan in accordance with modern practices and standards and an establishment plan that ensures the farmer or entrepreneur starts off on a sound footing. In this regard, we offer consultancy services to organizations and entrepreneurs on the various poultry business models, training and set up which among others include the following:

  • Construction of recommended chicken houses with the right orientation and designs and management of the houses thereof taking into consideration the number of flock and the projected expansion plans.
  • Correct or proper installation of farm equipment taking into consideration the required quantities and functionalities.
  • Management of the chicken flock with due to consideration to the minimization of birds mortality which can reduce flocks or production, reduce incomes, bring down the business and kill dreams.
  • Efficient management of the chicken feed and flock with utmost attention to the right feed formulation, pricing, daily feed rations requirements for birds etc.
  • Capacity building of farmers on vaccination and complete vaccination of birds with strict adherence to recommended schedules depending on the required information for the given area.
  • Ensuring efficient management and handling of eggs, one of the most delicate products in a farm.

These, among other prerequisites will help in making the desired start that propels the farmer to profitability. In addition training should be done basically covering the following areas:

  • Bio security of the chicken and how to set up a biosecurity infrastructure and manage it.
  • The various breeds of poultry, their characteristics and attributes.
  • The essence of vaccinating chicken and the vaccination schedules.
  • Poultry diseases (viral, metabolic, protozoal and bacterial), their management and treatment.
  • The physiology and anatomy of chicken.
  • Feeds, feeding and drinking management.
  • Brooding of day old chicks and brooding management.
  • Breeding management.
  • Marketing of poultry and record keeping

 

After training farmers and entrepreneurs are assisted with necessary input linkages and then placed on the path to commercialization.

After training, farmers need to be assisted in the chick placement process and all its requirements and then will need to develop a working relationship with a local public or private extension worker (Animal Health Assistant) as a closer and reliable point of call to facilitate response to emergencies in the farm or alternatively employ qualified Animal Health Assistants for entrepreneurs possessing the ability to employ.

For organizations willing to take their farmers through this process or willing to organize their farmers to commercialize poultry through a model of poultry producer business group of individuals or entrepreneurs seeking assistance in this respect you can contact us through the following email:

Email: improvedkienyeji@gmail.com

Tel: +254711417887.

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Kienyeji Chicken Raised on Pasture

After the first 8 weeks feeding them only on chick mash, supplying fresh clean water and following a strict vaccination routine on this farm, we lost only 10 chicks out of the first 200 supplied by the hatchery at KARI Naivasha. These are the Improved Kienyeji breeds. We decided to pasture the chicken so that they can get exposed to sunshine, toughen up and also diversify their diet.

Spreading feeders and drinkers in the Kienyeji chicken run
Spreading feeders and drinkers in the Kienyeji chicken run

Feeding the Improved Kienyeji chicks on the pasture and allowing them to scavenge is advantageous on many fronts. It exposes them to a more spacious environment and reduces diseases, injuries, cannibalism, and high mortality rate. The chicken grow up happy and produce very delicious meat when sold in the marketplace. The eggs will have a more yellowish yolk too-the deep yellow color as opposed a faded yellow for confined chicken.

Improved Kienyeji Chicken scavenging inside the chicken run
Improved Kienyeji Chicken scavenging inside the chicken run

Chicken love cabbages

While indoors, you can hang cabbages, spinach and sukuma wiki with wire attachments. These will be great source of vitamins for the kienyeji chickens. Every day, you can hang 4 cabbages for a flock of 200 birds that they can peck at. This will supplement the diet and reduces their feeding costs as you transition to growers mash from week 8 onwards. Once you are done with the first 8 weeks, you should also be thinking of formulating your own kienyeji mash that can reduce your feeding costs by up to 65%. Check out our Kienyeji Feed Formulation Manual for information on how you can reduce the cost of feeding.

Pass a rope through the hole made above and hang the cabbage from the roof. It shouldn’t be hang too high. The recommended height is just above the height of the back of the chicken so that they do not stretch too much to access their feeds
Hang some cabbages inside the structure that the chicken can peck at. This is also good source of vitamins

The other advantages of pasture

When you keep your chicken indoors for a long duration of time, you are going to experience high mortality rate for a number of reasons. They will have weak legs that break easily and the color of the legs and sin will remain white instead of the yellowish or even dark green color that is loved by many consumers. The sunshine along with diversified diet of grass, leaves, termites and vegetables will now contribute to the improvement in quality of meat. It will get sweeter and if they will be laying eggs, the eggs will have a rich yellow kienyeji yolk as opposed to the faded yellow yolk.

Do not rely on pasture alone. The pasture only supplements their feeding. Instead, you will continue to use some commercial feeding in order to maximize their production. You can also formulate your own kienyeji mash which is quite easy once you have the ingredients and the formula ready.

 

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