Category Archives: Kienyeji Breed Management

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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What Chicken Breeds in Kenya Should You Rear for Profit

When you are planning to venture into poultry farming in Kenya, it is important to know the right kinds of chicken breeds to purchase. Don’t just rush into the latest fads only to fail later and lose your money. It is important to obtain thorough information about every chicken breed that you plan to keep. Know their qualities including the age at which they begin laying, their peak production, and when they begin losing the productive capacity and are now ready for sale.

One thing that we Kenyans should have learnt from the quail scam is that you need to carry out good research about the product that you are planning to invest in. You need to analyze the risks and true market potential. Do not be driven just by the profit motive when it comes to poultry investments. After all, this is something that you plan to invest in over the long term.

When it comes to the poultry breeds in Kenya, there are plenty of great producing birds that you can pick and which will guarantee you a profit without too much cost.

The KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken

This is by far the most popular chicken breed in Kenya with many farmers. If you are planning to go Kienyeji, then the KARI improved kienyeji chicken should be first on your priority list. Compared to the local indigenous chicken, they produce more eggs and meat. They are very adaptable to various climactic conditions and can do well in the harshest of conditions including the semi-arid regions in Kenya such as Northern Kenya and even coastal Kenya.

If you want to focus on organic production, you can easily rear the KARI improved kienyeji chicken in the free-range or semi-free range poultry farming systems. In one year, the KARI improved kienyeji chicken will lay between 220 and 280 eggs. Within 5 months, they will be able to attain a weight of 1.5kg. The best place to order the KARI improved kienyeji chicken is from KARI but due to the long queue at the facility, you will have to wait for at least 3 weeks for delivery. Other breeders specializing in the KARI improved kienyeji chicken include Wendy Farms which is based in Kikuyu.

Kenbro

The Kenbro chicken breeds are known as dual breeds i.e. they can be used for both eggs as well as meat production. Kenbro is not really a new breed as it has been in the country for the past decade since its introduction by Kenchic. Kenbro is suited for farmers who prefer a less intensive mode of rearing chickens. The breed is generally more disease-resistant and will easily survive on free range. With proper feeding, it will mature relatively fast and start laying eggs when they are 5 months old.

With proper feeding, the chicken can attain weights of up to 4Kgs! More than 20,000 per week of these are produced by Kenchic but there are other farmers who also breed the Kenbro chickens. It is, however, best to buy only from the company since it is them who have the parent stock with which they can produce very high quality birds. Kenbro is generally a very heavy feed so you must prepared to spend heavily on feeding.

Kuroiler

Kuroiler hens are dual-purpose birds. It was first introduced into Uganda from India in 2009. Just like the Kenbro breeds, they can easily adapt to harsh conditions and survive in free range but they generally need to feed on a continuous basis. By the time they are 4 months, the Kuroiler chickens will be able to weigh as much as 3kg. They can hit 4kg by the time they are 6 months.

According to many farmers, the Kuroiler breeds have tastier meat than the indigenous chickens and the meat from the hens is also soft and very tender. They produce larger eggs than the indigenous chickens and they are able to lay between 140 to 150 eggs per year. When crossed with the indigenous chicken, the quality will go down so it is important to keep them pure.

The Kuroilers are generally scavengers although they can also live on the household leftovers. Although they are fairly resistant to all the diseases, it is important to vaccinate them just like you do to the other chickens. The kuroilers generally, cannot sit on their eggs to hatch them so they are just suitable for farmers who have incubators or broody hens.

Rainbow Rooster

This is also a dual-purpose breed that you can rear for both meat and eggs. They are multi-colored birds, hence the name and they are also low input birds and can easily survive on the free-range system. Rainbow Roosters are heavy feeders and will put on weight very fast. They cannot sit on their eggs so you will need an incubator or broody hen to hatch.

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INBREEDING IN POULTRY FARMING

This is basically a process by which new poultry offspring or chicks are born or produced by closely related parents or offspring. A farmer may for example set a “brother” against “sister” or “father” against “daughter” in the flock. While this may be a good option when a farmer is looking for certain desirable straits to maintain in the flock, it may be counterproductive when certain bad genes currently existing in a given flock are passed on to another generation.

This normally happens when a farmer allows inbreeding to happen several times before stopping. While it is not wrong to retain certain traits in a bird through inbreeding like a bird with a good laying ability, a cock that is very aggressive in protecting hens and young ones or chicken with a good feed to meet conversion rate, this should be done sparingly to avoid stopping only after the bad effects of inbreeding start showing.

Nearly all inbred lines generated by full siblingmating in chicken fail after just three full sibling matings. Once the inbreeding coefficient goes over this threshold, the lines tend to fail to reproduce one male and one female to continue the line.So inbreeding in chickens is not a very good thing to do a lot of.

The reason people like to line breed (the interbreeding of chicken within a particular line or descent usually to continue or perpetuate desirable characters) is that it is the fastest way to select for a type that is caused by a complex interaction of genes. If you have a superior animal the fastest way to increase the frequency of the superior genes in your line is to line breed.

Line breeding is just when you take the superior parent (hen or rooster) and cross the progeny back to the parent (father to daughter or mother to son). You then take the superior parent and again cross it to its new offspring from the inbred mating. You repeat this until infertility becomes a problem or the parent dies.

You can select other progeny that presumably will be better than average for your flock to breed in non-inbred matings or to other close relatives to try and set the good traits in your line.

Line breeding can produce very rapid gains in the quality of your line for certain traits, but nearly always results in a degeneration of the reproductive capacity of your line and you end up outcrossing and starting over. Outcrossing is the introduction of an outside breed in the flock to break the cycle of inbreeding.  Line breeding for a few generations can give you some outstanding birds at a higher frequency than you would get by not inbreeding. But eventually this has very undesirable consequences. This is why commercial breeding companies try to avoid inbreeding and concentrate on improving the whole population. The gains are not as dramatic, but they do not fall in the trap of the adverse effects.

The best advice is that if you inbreed always use a superior animal for the mating. If you do not you are just increasing the bad genes in your line.

Any mating between related individuals is inbreeding.  Line breeding and full sib mating cause the same amount of inbreeding for the first two inbred generations.  Theoretically line breeding and full sib matings should have the same detrimental results for the first two inbred generations.  Full-sib mating would be more detrimental for the 3rd and subsequent inbred generations.

 

The difference is that all the inbreeding comes from the superior parent in line breeding, but half the inbreeding comes from the inferior parent in full-sib matings.  This is why it is recommended that inbred matings involving only birds that you think are good enough to warrant it.

Effects of Inbreeding

  • Hatch rates begin to decline. A bird that lays 300 eggs through to its adult life slowly starts decreasing its hatching rate to even 170 or 100.

 

  • Deformation: birth deformities begin to occur in the birds especially if this has been done several times.

 

  • Higher percentage of failed eggs in the incubator.

 

  • Chicks that are lucky enough to hatch are very weak and their survival rate is very low.

 

  • The quality and palatability of the meat of the inbred chicken also slowly declines and eating such birds may have some bad after tastes or are just not tasty as the pedigree offspring.

 

The best thing to do to avoid the adverse effects of inbreeding is to run two roosters; one who is the best from your flock and one from an outside bloodline. This is called out crossing and the mix of genes this provides is sufficient to prevent genetic defects.

 

So you can do it sparingly if you must maintain certain superior characteristics in your flock but do not overdo it. Outcross Instead!

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Professional Training Services on Kienyeji Chicken Farming

Looking for professional training services on Kienyeji chicken farming and management in any corner of Kenya? We do capacity building in poultry and commercialization of poultry production to self-help groups, CBOs, NGOs and other organizations working with smallholder farmers as beneficiaries in economic empowerment.

The training encompasses the following 3 phases”

Poultry Production and Commercialization of chicken production

Phase 1 of Training on Kienyeji Chicken Farming

1. Role of Indigenous Chicken in Household Economy (Gender roles, food security, income generation)

2. Production systems and profitability (Organized chicken production)

3. Disease control and bio-security

4. Chick Management (DoC-8 weeks)

5. Flock Management ( keeping the flock healthy and productive, flock sizes, general biosecurity, laying, brooding and hatching)

6. Chicken housing ( types of housing, construction of chicken house, roost and perches, maintaining a chicken house, provision of nest and protection from predators and theft)

7. Feeds and Feeding

Phase II of Training on Kienyeji Chicken Farming

8. Breeding Management (Chicken selection and mating, breed selection, characteristics of a good layer/meat bird, cross breeding)

9. Record Keeping and profitability

Phase III of Training on Kienyeji Chicken Farming

10. Marketing and value additions

11. Financial Literacy Training

12. Other diseases and vices

Contact us for further engagement.

For additional information on this training program, call 0711417887 or email improvedkienyeji@gmail.com

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Learn More About the KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken

Improved might sound interesting when talking about chicken.  What really does improved chicken have that the normal kienyeji chicken does not have?  The KARI improved kienyeji chicken is a special breed slightly different from the local breeds we normally breed in our homes or backyards.  One important factor that you need to take note of is that they come with higher level of returns and better yields.  The new breeds underwent a lot of research as well as trial and error and intensive interbreeding before being released into the market.  They are bigger, better and more profitable.

Some of the benefits that poultry farmers enjoy with the KARI improved kienyeji chicken include amongst others:-

  • Shorter maturing period
  • Diseases resistant
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Low feeding and maintenance level
  • Larger and healthier eggs
  • Higher and better quality meat
  • Cheaper to maintain

KARI ensures that at the time of purchase, poultry farmers are only given vaccinated chicken.  Farmers are also given vaccination rules and guidelines to help them keep the chicken disease free all their life time.  Because of this, these improved chickens are able to give higher weights thereby earning the farmers more money and or revenue.

There is also a handbook detailing the process of how to effectively benefit from KARI improved kienyeji chicken.  Farmers also undergo training which in many occasions is organized by KARI for their large numbers of growing clientele.  Such training include:-

  • How to care for the chickens
  • Required structures which should be up to standard
  • Feeding program – what kind of foods are best and the best diet
  • How handle drinking water which is a very important subject
  • Vaccinations – when these should be undertaken
  • Hygiene and proper handling of chicken at the sale point

The KARI improved kienyeji chicken feeds on natural products as much as possible.  They feed on easy to access products like green grams, maize, kale just to name a few.  Another important factor that should never be forgotten is grass.  Grass helps in digestion and should not be omitted at whatever part of the diet.  Chickens that are not caged normally have the chance to enjoy their grass meal while out scavenging.  Chicken eat grass once in the course of the day and as discussed earlier should be made part of their normal day diet.

 

Lastly, KARI improved kienyeji chicken also feed on termites and ants.  These can be homegrown as stated in the handbook.  Feeders should be kept clean to avoid infection of any kind.  Water should be availed for most part of the day. Buy feeders that are sturdy and can withstand a lot of movements. Ensure that you add to their feeds additional minerals which they might miss during their scavenging journey.  Just like their other counterparts, the KARI chicken should also be kept safe and away from predators which are always out looking for an easy meal.  Ensure that the cage have enough lighting, ventilation, space and security.

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