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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cabbages are a great way to supplement the diet of your Kienyeji chicken. They are a great source of vitamins and also a good way to supplement the diet so they do not rely too much on commercial feeding. However, it is advisable not to over-supplement the feeding. Do not provide too many cabbages. For a flock of 200, you can hang 4 cabbages every day. Hanging the cabbages also increases the level of activity and keeps them busy. They will be pecking and running around the structure with pieces of cabbages which is good for their development.
There are several ways in which you can hang cabbages in the Kienyeji chicken house and these are illustrated below. Please do not put cabbages on the floor and mix it with the litter. Hanging it low where the chicken can peck at it without straining or stretching their necks. The recommended height is just above the chickens’ back. Please have a look at the various ways in which you can hang your cabbages for your chickens so that there is very little waste and very comfortable feeding.
Hanging cabbages for your chicken with a rope
Using a Wire
Using a Cabbage Cage to Hang Cabbages for Chickens
The Improved Kienyeji Chicken breeds and other hybrids such as Kuroiler and Rainbow Rooster are actually meant to be reared in a free range environment or semi-intensive environment where they can scavenge for their own food. However, farmers generally give them the feed formulation such as the chick mash, growers mash, layers mash or finishers depending on the breeds in order to maximize on the production. Buying commercial food is however quite costly. You could easily see your feeding costs running to up to Ksh.12,000 per month for a flock of 200 birds if you do not manage your costs carefully.
One way to cut down on the costs and also vary the diet and prevent boredom in your birds is by supplementing their diets with various other feeds, particularly the household leftovers. There are some taboo foods that you should NEVER give your chickens such as garlic, onions or even potato peels. Those are out of bounds.
Also when you are supplementing the diet of your poultry, it is important that you do in moderation. Don’t overfeed them on food leftovers all of a sudden. Do it little by little and also gradually. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of the intake for your improved breeds should come from their foods such as layers mash in order to maximize on their production. These commercial feeds have been formulated in order to meet the all the dietary requirements of your chickens so that they can thrive well in your backyard and also lay more eggs or mature faster if you are rearing them for meat.
If you over supplement, you could not just compromise the health of your chickens but also decrease egg production. Do it but do it moderation. Feed in the morning and in the afternoon, let them scavenge in the chicken run up to about 6pm in the evening. Hang cabbages and other vegetable leftovers in the chicken runs in order to keep them busy when they are retiring in the evening or running away from the hot sunshine outside. Another way to save on feeding costs is by formulating your own feeds. For additional information on Kienyeji Feed Formulation, visit here.
Here is a List of Some of the Food Leftovers that your Chicken Can Eat:-
Cooked potatoes-don’t give them peels
Crushed maize, especially yellow maize
Ochong’a or small reddish fishes. They are smaller than omena
Chick brooding is one of the most important phases during poultry rearing. If done wrongly, you could lose as much as 50% of your chicks or potentially wipe off your entire investments in the day old chicks. If it is done correctly, you could lose 5% or less and preserve your entire investment. Chick brooding is often compared to parenting.
Eventually, every farmer has to develop a technique that will work for them in the first 8 weeks when the chicks are most vulnerable to various threats. Even if they survive the first 8 weeks, the handling of the chicks during those few weeks will impact the entire lifetime production of the chicken. If they are well handled and they grow up with less injuries, deformities or sickness, they are going to give you a very high yield. This applies whether you are brooding the KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken, Rainbow Roostrer, Kuroiler, Indbro, Kenbro or the Fast White Layers from India.
The Four Important Factors when it Comes to Chick Brooding
When planning your chick brooding in Kenya in order to ensure a 99% survival rate in the first 8 weeks, there are five main factors that you will need control. How you will control them will depend on the knowledge that you have acquired through training along with your own improvisations during the Kienyeji chicken farming. These include the following:-
Provide Proper Feeding in the Right Amount: For information on how much a chick consumes at every age, check out our Feed Formulation Manual.
Provide very clean water during these first eight weeks. Check out our blog on the importance of clean water in poultry rearing. Chicks will do OK with the current drinkers from Kenpoly which are available in the Kenyan market but as they mature, you can cut your jerricans and use them to provide cleaner water which is not easily contaminated. You can also use drip drinkers which really preserve the hygiene of water and which the chickens love pecking as they grow older.
Temperature: Should just be the right amount and even distributed in the building. You can observe the chick behaviour in order to determine whether you have provided an optimal amount of heat.
Air Quality: Building should be spacious and well aerated but during the first few weeks, watch out on draught or wind coming in through openings. This can easily create the cold conditions that kill your chicks. In the first weeks, seal the openings with a curtain or sack in order to prevent draught and excessive cold.
Hygiene: Wash your hands before providing food. Before you enter the chicken coop, make sure you have dipped your feet in a disinfectant.
Prerequisites for chick brooding
Chick brooding houses should be isolated from other houses containing older birds. The producer should follow an “all-in, all-out” program, never mixing birds of different ages.
All facilities must thoroughly be cleaned, and disinfected.
Put the brooder in place
Before the arrival of chicks the brood ring and heaters must be checked to ensure that they are working properly.
Put saw dust on the floor of the chicken pen
On arrival, chicks should be offered fresh water containing glucose where applicable
Watch out daily for inactive or injured chicks and separate them from the main flock. If they are sick, consult a vet and provide the required medicine in isolation. If they are just injured or weak, separate them and let them recuperate in an environment where they don’t have to compete for food. Some of the common problems that you will encounter when you have a large flock include broken legs, broken wings, blindness from pecking or injuries and infections. You have to watch the flock closely in order to respond to these problems as soon as possible. Watch out the corners or feeding areas of the chicken pens for any dead chicks and remove them immediately when you spot them.
Apart from the factors listed above, another major cause of injuries and deaths is overcrowding in the chicken pen. You can solve this by building a structure of the right size that can accommodate your number of birds. Check out our Kienyeji Housing Manual for tips on the right size of the Kienyeji Chicken structure or chicken coop that you should construct.
Buy More Feeders and Drinkers
Chicks also die or get injured due to overcrowding during feeding. When two many chicks are scrambling for food in small feeder, injuries are inevitable. You can solve this by having numerous feeders. A typical chick feeder can accommodate up to 30 birds but you can budget for one feeder per 20 birds. That means if you have 200 birds, purchase 10 feeders and 5 drinkers. The chicks mostly spend their time eating and drink at intervals .
Every morning and evening, ensure that all the feeders and drinkers have been washed before putting new feed in them. After feeding, there will most likely be chicken droppings and sawdust in the feeders and drinkers and these need to be cleaned first. Provide feeds two to three times a day. There is a certain amount of feed that they should consume per day based on their ages. Refer to our Feed Formulation Manual for this information.
When supplying the food, it is good to have one or two helpers. Put the feed in all the feeders and then take them to the chicken pen at once. That way, you will not attract too many chicks on a single feeder at once which can lead to injuries and death. Apart from the feeders, you can also supply an extra feeding tray where you put food for those left out of the feeders. Ensure all the chickens are active and feeding well. Remove and inspect the inactive ones.
After supplying feed, supply clean water and leave them for another six or more hours.
The Importance of Chick Brooding
The hatched chick has not developed the mechanism to regulate its body temperature, so it cannot maintain its body temperature properly for the first few weeks and can easily die due to the cold conditions of the housing.
Chick brooding management is mainly aimed at providing right temperature for the chicks in order to ensure their survival. Brooding provides extra heat from an external source to newly hatched chicks. When the artificial heat is not provided in the Improved Kienyeji chicken house, the chicks will not take sufficient feeds and water. This leads to retardation of growth and poor development of the internal organs responsible for digestion. As a result, the chick will not be able to digest the yolk completely.
The egg yolk is a highly nutritious feed for the chicks. As such, if it is not absorbed completely by the chick, there are growth and multiplication bacteria on the yolk leading to Early Chick Mortality (ECM) and growth retardation. A condition called omphalitis (yolk infection).
Preparations for the Chick Placement
The brooding house MUST be cleaned and disinfected, preferably using a sprayer. Feeders and drinkers should be washed and disinfected days before use. All equipment in the house should be arranged and the litter spread.
The brooder ring should be prepared and the curtains fixed on the open sides to insulate the brooder house. Use of a good quality terminal disinfectant, for the final spraying before the chicks are placed is recommended. Provide foot baths at the entrance with lime powder or any disinfectant such as Ominicide or, TH4.
Preparation of a Brooder Guard
Use an 18 inch cardboard sheet, aluminum sheet, coffee wire as brooder guard material to make a circle that uses 20 feet in diameter of the brooder guard for 50 chicks; 25 feet for 100 chicks; 30 feet for 150 chicks; 35 feet for 200 chicks. The brooder should be ready prior to disinfection. Fill the ring with suitable litter material such as wood shaving or straw up to 4 inches thick from the floor, and then spread newspapers to cover the litter on the floor. The heat source should be placed at the centre of the brooder ring. Please note that you can also purchase a customized brooder ring.
Checking Your Chicks
The crops of chicks should be checked the morning after placement to ensure they have found feed and water. At this time, a minimum of 95% of the crops should feel soft and pliable indicating chicks have successfully located feed and water. Hard crops indicate chicks have not found adequate water and water availability should be cheeked immediately. Swollen and distended crops indicate chicks have located water but insufficient feed and in this case the availability and consistency of the feed should be immediately evaluated.
Managing Light in the Brooder
Provide continuous lighting in the brooder during the first week in order to help chicks find water and feed.
Managing Temperature in the Brooder
Chick brooding temperature is usually measured just a few cm above the litter surface. The best times to observe the chicks and adjust the brooder temperature accordingly is during the cold times of the day. Not all farmers have thermometers to record temperatures so the best guide should be how the chicks behave during the cold hours:-
When there is too much heat, chicks will move away from the heat source
When there is too little heat, chicks will move towards the heat source
When the heat is evenly distributed, the chicks will behave normally and move around throughout the brooder guard.