There are many reasons why your kienyeji chicken may go blind. For example, they may have suffered an eye trauma following a fight or scratching by other chickens or they may get blind due to diseases such as sinusitis.
A common reason, though, why your chickens may suffer full or partial blindness is due to the effect of ammonia burns caused by poor ventilation.
If the poultry housing is not well ventilated, there will be an accumulation of ammonia gas in the poultry shed. Ammonia is a highly irritating gas and can lead to ammonia burns on the eyes that causes full or partial blindness.
The ammonia burns on the eyes of your chickens will begin with watery eyes and then progress to an accumulation of solidified pus-like substance in the eyes. This will eventually lead to a condition called keratoconjuctivitis.
There are various steps that you can undertake in order to reduce the accumulation of ammonia gas in your poultry house. These include the following:-
Avoid fully covering the poultry house at night. There are harmful gases and substances emitted by the poultry waste that must be taken out via the ventilation system in the poultry house. These are ammonia gas, carbon-dioxide and even dust. Fresh air from outside also needs to get into the poultry house.
Make sure that litter in the poultry house is not wet. If the litter is accumulated, remove it after every four weeks and add fresh litter in the poultry house. Water spillage can cause a lot of sanitation problems in the poultry house so these must be removed as quickly as possible.
The bird should be spaced out well in the poultry house so as to avoid overcrowding. When constructing a poultry house, you must also take into account the number of chickens that you are planning to raise. The size of the poultry house must support the desired stocking density.
Treatment for Blind Chickens
There are certain blindness in chicken that still be reversed while others such as those caused by trauma are irreversible.
For birds affected by ammonia burns, you can use eye ointments such as Probeta or even a tetracycline eye ointment. Make sure that you apply the eye ointment twice a day for three .days and check if you see any improvement. You can also contact your nearest vet.
With proper management, the mortality rate for your poultry layers should be very low. At rearing, the mortality rate generally does not exceed 5%. At lay, the mortality rate shouldn’t exceed 8% with proper rearing techniques. The age of lay in your chickens should start at between 18 to 20 weeks for the commercial layers.
However, one issue that some farmers may grapple with is where the chicken starts to lay eggs and then stops along the way. There are several reasons why your chickens can stop laying eggs. Typically, a high performing hen should lay over 24 eggs per month. Chickens lay 2 eggs every 3 days in their peak performance as the egg formation process takes anywhere from 25 to 26 hours.
But egg production may reduce below this level or stop entirely for a number of reasons. These include the following:-
The hen has been laying for more than 12 months.
Change in the weather condition that leads to stress. Chickens react badly to stress and this can severely affect their productivity resulting in fewer eggs or the hen stopping to lay altogether.
Stresses caused by transportation, vaccination or debeaking. As stated above, chickens are creatures of habit and have very poor coping mechanisms. If you will be taking your laying or point of lay hens through a stressful experience such as transportation, make sure that you take precautions to reduce the stress as much as possible.
Disturbances in their surroundings such as litter removals, noises or even predators.
Feed Rationing: Are you rationing the feeds to cut down on costs? That will just result in a sudden drop in egg production.
Poor quality feeds: Take care where you source your layer mash. If the feed is poorly formulated, it is most likely going to impact the layer performance.
Lack of sufficient clean drinking water: Your chickens need lots of fresh and clean drinking it water. An insufficient amount of it or poor quality drinking water is going to impact egg laying performance.
Lack of sufficient lighting.
Internal and external parasites in your poultry such as dust mites can impact egg production.
As a farmer, you can always make an intervention in order to address many of these factors and restore your egg production to the previous levels.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the biggest challenges that many farmers in Kenya planning to venture in kienyeji chicken farming or poultry farming in general face is figuring out what chicken breeds to rear. Some farmers buy new chicken breeds without first learning about their qualities and this can result in losses and disappointments. Before picking any chicken breed, you need to learn about its many qualities. Learn the basic information about the bird. The most important information that you need to learn about any breed that you choose include the following:-
Age of Maturity
Age at peak production
Body weight at maturity
Quality of eggs
Quality of meat
Is it layer, broiler or dual purpose?
Color of eggs
Disease resistance and adaptability
Feeding and nutrition: are they low input or high input birds?
Every farmer has an objective. Before you rush into poultry farming you must clearly figure out your farming objectives and then choose a poultry breed that aligns well with those objectives. For example, you do not just go into poultry farming to make money. That is too vague. You can go into poultry farming to be the largest supplier of kienyeji eggs, a large supplier of poultry meat, a distributor of Kuroiler chicks etc. Specialization is very important and will help you realize success in your ventures.
Here is an overview of some of the best chicken breeds in Kenya right now that every farmer should think of keeping. Some of these are improved local Kienyeji chicken breeds such as the KARI Improved Kienyeji chicken and some are imported hybrid breeds from India which do well in local conditions but produce more eggs and meat and mature faster.
The KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken
This is by far the most popular of the chicken breeds in Kenya and it has some admirable characteristics. The KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken produces more meat as well as more eggs than the local indigenous poultry breeds. It is also a highly adaptable bird and will do well even in areas with harsh climatic conditions such as the arid and the semi-arid areas in Kenya.
KARI Improved kienyeji chicken can be reared in both free range as well as the semi-free range systems. These are typically called the semi-intensive systems. It is a good breed for those farmers who want to rear their chicken in a completely free range or organic way without commercial feeding or hormones.
With proper management, the KARI Improved Kienyeji chicken is also a great breed for eggs. Farmers can look forward to anywhere between 220 to 280 eggs per year. Within five months, the KARI hen will have attained 1.5Kgs while a cock will weigh 2Kgs within the same duration of time if it is fed well. The KARI improved kienyeji chicken farming has a quiet temperament as well as great feathering. Compared to other breeds in the market, it will adapt very fast to the conditions in which it is kept.
The kenbro breed of chicken is a dual-purpose that can be kept for both meat and eggs. The breed has been in the Kenyan market for quite some time and was introduced over 10 years ago by Kenchic in order to cater for those farmers looking for more productive chickens that are less intensive.
This breed is more disease-resistant and can easily survive when reared in free-range conditions. With good feeding and management, it will mature very fast and start laying eggs at the age of 5 months. With good feeding and management, the kenbro chicken can easily attain up to 4Kg. It is advisable to buy from Kenchic which has the parent stock for these birds. The bird is a heavy feeder and this is one of the reasons it is able to put on weight very fast.
This is one of the best breeds in Kenya if not the best. It is a dual purpose bird that is very low input. It perform perfectly well in free range and semi free range or the semi-intensive conditions. With Kuroiler, you do not have to buy the commercial mash. It can survive just ok while scavenging and feeding on the food leftovers in the house. However, to avoid losses, it is advisable to fence a chicken run where they can graze on the pasture and if you have a large stock, you can also supplement their feed with omena, grains, termites and commercial feeds.
The Kuroiler chicken was introduced from the Keggs Farms in India in 2009. The Kuroiler hens are heavy feeders. They need to feed continuously in order to reach their optimal production. Within four months, your Kuroiler should be weighing 3Kg and within six months, they will be weighing up to 4kh after six months.
Farmers rearing the Kuroiler birds have testified that it has a tastier meat compared to that of the indigenous chickens. The meat has less fat, soft and also tender. The eggs of the Kuroiler chickens are bigger than those of the indigenous birds and they have deep yellow yolk that many farmers love. The Kuroiler hen, when well fed, will lay anywhere from 140-150 eggs per year. When crossed with the indigenous chickens, the quality will begin to go down so it is always advisable to buy chicks from the parent stock. Farmers should follow the same vaccination schedule as that of other chickens although the Kuroilers tend to be disease resistant. They also grow very fast during the first six weeks of brooding so farmers will not have to grapple with the brooding-related losses.
The Kuroilers do not sit on their eggs and this is intentional. They have been developed this way in order to maximize their eggs produce. Farmers who want to produce the Kuroiler chicks must invest in an incubator. Farmers without incubators can always order chicks from the parent stock from the leading suppliers of Kuroiler chickens in Kenya.
This is the other hybrid super-bird. It is a dual-purpose poultry breed in Kenya which can be reared for both meat and eggs. The Rainbow Rooster is a multi-colored bird(from which it derives its name) and a low input bird which can be reared perfectly in semi-free range conditions. The Rainbow Rooster is a heavy feeder and can put on weight relatively first. When well fed, it can put on anywhere between 3kg to 4kg within a duration of six months. Under good management, it will lay anywhere between 180-200 eggs. Like the Kuroiler, it will not sit on its eggs and you will have to invest in an incubator or buy chicks from leading Rainbow Rooster such as Kukuchic which has the parent stock of the bird.