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Farmers Succeed with Local Breeds

by 5m Editor
18 March 2009, at 8:52am

UGANDA - Local breeds of chicken are helping small farmers to a profitable business.

Small scale poultry farmers are fast embracing the rearing of local poultry as it turns out it is one of the highly profitable farming activities, according to Monitor in Uganda. Though many farmers in the rural parts of the country have been rearing poultry on subsistence basis and under free range, the good prices local chicken fetches on the market is attracting large number of farmers in the trade.

A local chicken costs 8,000 to 20,000 shillings, depending on the size and season but it also exceeds depending on the prevailing demand.

Mathias Salongo Kasamba says local poultry rearing is the most enterprising project because it is "quite simple" as long as certain guidelines are followed and does not require sophisticated structures.

Mr Kasamba, a Member of Parliament and a local poultry farmer in Kakuuto, Rakai District says he primarily got space for only 25 birds and put up a semi-permanent structure and within a period of two years he owns over 450 birds.

"I have been earning daily from the eggs but also I sell the cocks in large numbers," he says, adding that his 10 feet by 20 feet semi- free-range space covered with a mesh accommodates 200 to 300 birds.

Mr Kasamba, a disabled person with one hand says it may be difficult for a farmer to move long distances to access chicks to multiply the numbers. "But developing one's own breeder helps in multiplying chicken without spending much."

"You can choose about five hens when they stop laying eggs. These, you give eggs to incubate for three consecutive times and if each hen incubates about 15 eggs for three to four times, a farmer would have saved the expenses of going for exotic breed chicks," says Mr Kasamba whose poultry farm has since turned into a demonstration place for other farmers from the surrounding villages.

"The only challenge is that local poultry has a low laying capacity of below 60 per cent and they normally tend to go broody very quickly compared to the crossed or purely exotic breeds whose capacity goes up to 80 per cent," he says. He is now a farmers' advocate.

"Local poultry under exotic or modern rearing becomes costly and the returns may not be the best but once a farmer makes better planning for the project before actual start, the losses can be mitigated. For instance, someone in a rural place can plant cereals like maize, soya beans, peas or even sweet potatoes and cassava," he advises.

He says poultry farmers in rural and semi-rural areas need to integrate agronomic mechanisms to minimise on the costs to improve on their daily income.

Mr Kasamba, who was at the forefront of establishing and management of the National Local Chicken Farmers' Association that focuses on training extension workers, also urges that another way of improving on the quality of poultry breeding is through cross-breeding.

"If you get exotic cocks and cross them with local breeds, their product will grow faster and the laying capacity would increase hence increasing poultry stocks," he says.

He appealed to the government to come up with a policy restricting farmers from selling unprocessed cereals to enable them access feeds at slightly cheaper prices and save poultry farming in the country.

"Poultry farming is in the hands of the private sector where the vaccines are very expensive but if government considers waiving taxes for instance on vaccines or declares free vaccination like in livestock rearing where vaccination of animals against a specific killer disease is free, would help farmers increase on their incomes," Mr Kasamba told Monitor.