March 26, 2012


Agajie Tesfaye
Socio-economics, Research Extension and Farmer Linkage, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR),
Holetta Research Center, P.O.Box 2003, Addis Ababa

Livestock is the essential sector for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia making considerable contributions for rural development as source of livelihoods. However, the potential of the sector is not yet well utilized especially with respect to marketing practices, which is mainly governed by traditional ways of marketing. Prices of livestock at the market are mainly influenced by observable phenotypic attributes while well developed markets depend on measurable attributes, such as weight. The study has identified that body condition and age were the most governing attributes of large ruminants, such as oxen and cows, which affect prices at the market. On the other hand, age and weight were observed to be the most crucial attributes influencing prices of small ruminants, such as sheep and goats. It was also noted that weight and color were essential traits influencing prices of chicken. Age and draught power output were also reported to be fundamental attributes influencing prices of equines.

The implication of identifying phenotypic attributes is that feasible options should be designed to sensitize and create awareness of smallholders on how to maximize incomes from marketing of livestock. This can be achieved by introducing and promotion of different applicable and feasible practices. Some of them could be promotion of improved fattening technologies for different species of livestock. Moreover, it is feasible option to organize experience sharing visits to model areas in improved fattening and livestock management practices. In line with this, publication and dissemination of reading materials in local languages, such as leaflets, pamphlets, fliers, posters, manuals and other similar materials would be very crucial especially for households who can read and write. Training of development agents based at grassroots levels on improved fattening, marketing and livestock management practices will contribute to ensure sustainability of supports for smallholders. The eventual effect of these interventions would be enhancing market participation and bargaining power of smallholders, increasing household incomes and contributing to rural development.

Key words: Customers, income, phenotypic attributes, prices

March 24, 2012


E.N. Muthiani, E.C. Kirwa and A.J.N. Ndathi
KARI Kiboko Range Research Centre, P.O Box 12, Makindu

A survey was carried out in Mashuru and Loitoktok divisions of Kajiado District in 2004 to establish the status of chicken consumption and marketing. A total of 242 households were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. A one- off parallel market survey was done in four markets to establish the status of chicken marketing. The survey established that 56.5% of the respondents kept chicken, which was a domain for women. Chicken are kept mainly for income from the sale of eggs and live birds and all the respondents kept indigenous birds under free ranging with average flock sizes of 12 and 4 birds per household in Mashuru and Loitoktok division. About 87.7% and 85.1% of all the respondents in the district eat eggs and chicken meat respectively. The young (<19yrs) and the youth (20-39yr) constitute 76% and 74.3%, respectively of those who eat eggs and chicken. Chicken were sold in markets but there were no designated chicken selling yards in all the three market centres. The number of birds brought in the market did not meet the demand. Mean buying and selling price were perceived as low and ranged from KES. 87.5 and 99.17 for a small hen to KES. 184 and 228 for big cock respectively. The establishment of market infrastructure in the district was recommended. The development of skill in preparation of chicken and chicken products will lead to increased consumption and reduction of malnutrition among the vulnerable groups. Any intervention on chicken production should target the women, the young (<19years) and the youth (20-39 years)

March 22, 2012


Poultry Veterinary Network (Kenya)

Poultry Vets Network (PVN) is a common interest group of Veterinary Surgeons in Kenya with interest in Poultry work. These are Veterinarians keen on improving poultry enterprise by using their learned and acquired skills to assist poultry keepers improve health and productivity of their flock. This network is ardent in collection and distribution of poultry information to end-user (poultry farmers). Linking Research to Development is our key mission by bridging the gap that exists which is Extension. Extension activities will be carried out by veterinarian members also referred to as Poultry Veterinary Volunteers.


In view of a rapidly increasing human population in Kenya, resulting in high demand for food and a decrease in land available for agriculture, food production and food security will remain as priorities in the agricultural sector. To satisfy this rising demand, future development in this sector will be focused in those enterprises that require less land such as poultry production and result in products that are readily acceptable to the consumers. Also, recent calls by the health technicians to limit consumption of red meat due to its likely exposure of people to risks of cancer, demand for white meat (poultry meat, fish etc.) is due to increase.

Poultry are those birds that render economic service to man and reproduce freely under his care. Exotic poultry constitute 30% of total national poultry populations. These are usually kept around urban and peri urban areas, a factor dictated by their proximity to the market. Exotic poultry is kept by the resource-rich or financially stable poultry keepers as it requires a fair to good educational foundation, high financial input and in return has readily high output.  These keepers are in constant contact with the poultry breeders, feed manufacturers, drug manufacturers and other key players in the industry who are keen on training them and offering other on and off-farm extension to agribusiness services. To the advantage of these poultry keepers, most technocrats (technical persons) and resource suppliers (financial and farm inputs) are biased towards urban and peri urban areas due to availability of good infrastructure.

On the other hand, indigenous/ local/ household/ family poultry keepers account for 70% of the total national poultry populations. These poultry are kept in peri-urban (back yard) but majority are kept by the poor, resource and education challenged local communities. Free-range system is most common in rural areas as it is a least capital-intensive production system of low input, low output farming system. They keep an average flock size of 10-14 birds that consist of indigenous family birds. These birds are let free during the day and are only confined at night. Indigenous family birds are harder than exotic breeds on free-range system where little or no food is supplemented. They have a great foraging ability, high feed conversion efficiency, but small size and low production. The family poultry keepers tend to have a wrong belief that these birds are hardy to diseases (except Newcastle disease) and do not need extra attention. Technical experts to advise indigenous poultry keepers on how to improve health and production of these birds are lacking in the villages, with keepers left to employ their indigenous knowledge in disease control, a practice that has not recorded agreeable results. Poultry keepers’ knowledge on poultry disease diagnosis, treatment, prevention & control is wanting. Veterinary medicines are not readily available in villages. Major outbreak of viral diseases especially Newcastle often go un- or under-reported because of poor infrastructural and communication network and thus lasting solution are not arrived at. Another scenario common to rural poultry keepers is that, at the time of disease outbreaks, the families feasts on the sick birds to avert further losses, unaware of the dangers they are exposing themselves to since disease diagnosis has not been arrived at.

Poor housing exposing the birds to predation and ecto-parasitism is also a major impediment to this production system. Most families share housing with these birds oblivious of the dangers they expose themselves to.

Marketing of these birds is also a challenge. After several months of raising dwarfed birds, traders/ middle men exploit rural poultry keepers, robbing them off a fortune while they make big profits when they sell birds in urban areas. Indigenous birds are preferred because they have tasty meat and desirable egg quality, color and taste. Their products are also free from antibiotics, hormones and other harmful chemicals. These birds fetch more income than exotic ones.

Poultry health and production extension work has been solely left to animal production technicians who are limited in knowledge as far as poultry diseases concerns, the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of these diseases. On the other hand, majority of veterinary practitioners in Kenya are biased towards large animals and pets neglecting poultry engagements. This initiative is therefore necessary in order to mobilize veterinary surgeons to assist in poultry extension services and render their extensive savoir faire to assist poultry keepers and the poultry industry as a whole. This initiative is biased towards rural industry and is aimed at uplifting the financial and social status of rural dwellers by emphasizing the need for seriously engaging in poultry activities as a source of income, cheap protein and a source of employment.

  • To gather poultry information, aimed at assisting poultry keepers to improve health and productivity of their birds (information collection).
  • Participate in on and off-farm training of poultry keepers on poultry health and productivity (capacity building),
  • Organize poultry related field events and activities that will engage poultry vets in treating and vaccination of flocks,
  • On-farm visitations and consultations by veterinary volunteers on poultry health and productivity
  • Research including disease diagnosis, necropsies, data collection on disease incidences and losses; and other experimental work
  • Collaborate with institutions, veterinary pharma industry, feed manufacturers, humanitarian agencies, funding bodies and other stakeholders who are keen on improving poultry health and productivity to promote poultry activities.

  • Information gathering (literature search, sharing and archiving) on poultry health and production
  • Publication of resource materials that will assist poultry keepers in understanding the health and production of poultry
  • Organizing and participating in field events and on-farm visits as part of training and monitoring of poultry health and production activities
  • Organize and participate in campaigns aimed at poultry disease control
  • Organize training forums for poultry vet volunteers, farmers and other stakeholders
  • Participate in research activities on poultry health and productivity
  • Liaise with willing partners in implementing poultry related projects
  • Fundraising for poultry health and production activities

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming a new brainchild:

the Poultry Veterinarians Network!!  

October 27, 2011


Climate change and its possible potential effects on poultry parasitic diseases
Climate change can alter poultry’s relationship with parasites and vectors. These changes can influence where parasites and vectors thrive, making certain geographical regions more or less amenable to them. Climate change can also alter when and for how long parasites and vectors pose a threat to the birds. Climate can determine how vectors/ pathogens are distributed, transmitted and evolve, and can influence the factors associated with emerging poultry diseases and how birds respond to those diseases. Significant environmental changes have been well documented in recent decades, and some of these changes are causing trouble the poultry.
Regular parasite and disease surveillance is necessary as this will provide up-to-date information about changes in vector/ pathogen prevalence and intensity/ populations. Laboratory and field research will help illuminate how climate changes influence vector/ pathogen characteristics, and models will help researchers and producers to predict and plan for vector/ pathogen threats.
“More and more countries are indicating that climate change has been responsible for at least one emerging or re-emerging disease occurring on their territory. This is a reality we cannot ignore and we must help Veterinary Services throughout the world to equip themselves with systems that comply with international standards of good governance so as to deal with this problem,” explained Dr Bernard Vallat, DG of the OIE.
Climate change and its possible potential effects on poultry parasitic diseases
Poultry flocks are particularly vulnerable to climate change because birds can only tolerate narrow temperature ranges. Poultry farmers need to consider making adaptations now to help reduce cost, risk and concern in the future.
Potential disadvantages of climate change include:
  • More heat stress in both housed and outdoor flocks
  • Reduced egg production and growth rates at higher temperatures
  • Higher mortality rates in outdoor flocks, resulting from extreme weather events
  • More expensive housing to withstand storms and temperature fluctuations
  • More effective ventilation and cooling systems to counteract higher temperatures
  • Higher energy costs to operate ventilation systems more frequently
  • Increased persistence of some endo and ecto parasites with associated increase in medication
  • Increased mortality and reduced production due to increased mycotoxins in feed
Adaptation suggestions include reviewing poultry house building design in new builds to more effectively cope with new climate and weather extremes, including the installation of more/new equipment to cope with new climate extremes.

Mitigating measures include the installation of renewable energy such as solar or wind power to power poultry sheds, and using biomass boilers or anaerobic digestion of poultry litter.

October 22, 2011


Ministry of Livestock Development, P.O Box 25 Ololulung'a

Control options available

Control of ectoparasites in indigenous chicken is perceived as a major impediment to rural farmers since their scavenging habits and constant contact with contaminated environment make them an easy prey to parasitic infestations. Isolating poultry flocks from other animals to reduce the opportunity for disease transmission; isolating young from older birds if more than one age group is present on the farm and keeping wild birds, rodents, insects and pets away from poultry is almost impossible due to the nature of their production system (free range system).

When the pests are discovered and identified, effective control will entail collective alternatives. This control can be approach as on-host and/ or off-host treatment. A number of techniques have been used in control of these ectoparasites. These include: management changes such as modification of poultry housing by eliminating, minimizing or sealing cracks and crevices required by these pests for shelter in current or planned housing. Entry of wild birds and rodents can be prevented with screen and other barriers.

Cultural methods like paraffin use in control of fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea) and petroleum jelly applied on scaly legs (Cnemidocoptes mutans); and traditional herbs like neem (Mwarubaini) leaves and bark have been employed in control of ectoparasites in indigenous family chicken. In the treatment of scaly mites, neem (Mwarubaini) mixed with residue from soaked and filtered ash and a little water is made into paste and smeared on the scaly legs. The commonly used insecticides include permethrins, cabaryl compounds, coumaphos, tetrachlorvinphos and/ or tetrachlorvinphos and dichlorvos combination, applied as a spray (or bird dipping) and dust treatments.

Control mites by treating their hiding places. Treat roosts, walls, litter, and equipment by painting, spraying, or dusting. Treat all cracks, crevices, and rough spots. As a general practice, even in the absence of a known infestation of insects or mites, the poultry house should be treated at least twice a year. The treatment should include a thorough cleaning of the house and an insecticide application. Northern fowl mites (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) specifically infest the vent area, although males tend to have a more scattered infestation. Caged layers should be sprayed or dusted from underneath the cage in order to penetrate the vent feathers. For an effective treatment, spray two times with half doses, thirty minutes apart, to ensure that the vent region has been thoroughly saturated with the appropriate pesticide. Floor birds with northern fowl mite infestations can be bunched into a corner and treated with the same spray techniques, again, aimed at the vent area. For very small flocks, simply dipping each bird in a tank of the full dose spray mixture can be very effective. Treatment of Dermanyssus gallinae involves cleaning and disinfecting the poultry house. Mites can be located along cracks and crevices of the roost areas and poultry house, and eliminated by spraying pesticides in these infested areas two or three times for several weeks. Spray roosts and other equipment in the house. Remove nesting material and spray nest boxes inside and out. Allow time for drying before adding new nesting material.

Control of poultry lice requires treating the birds since lice remain on the bird throughout its life. Treat by dipping, dusting, or spraying the birds, and be careful to avoid contaminating eggs, feed and water. Treatment is easiest at night when birds are quiet. For best results, split treatments with half of the recommended amount of insecticide applied initially, and the second half applied soon after the first, since the wet feathers retain more active ingredient. Applying liquid sprays to dry feathers often results in loss of some of the insecticide due to runoff.

Integrated poultry pest management

Poultry integrated pest management (IPM) is based on applied ecology – understanding the pest biology and behavior in the habitat. Pest control in poultry facilities requires a judicious meshing of the cultural, biological, and chemical methods described previously. Biosecurity is always a primary element for preventing as much as possible the introduction of disease organism and pests into the operation. Optimal flock, housing, and waste management procedures should be continuously practiced to assist in suppressing pest populations and to encourage natural control factors, including moisture control, fly parasites and fly predators. When monitoring indicates unacceptable pest levels, additional actions are required to improve the implementation of the management practices.

In addition, chemical applications may be necessary. The timing of insecticide applications must be meshed with the poultry management practices. Very often this restricts applications to between flocks in a house when thorough cleaning and spraying is possible as for beetle, chicken mite, and bedbug control. Chemical applications for fly control by residual spraying, insecticide–bait mixtures and occasional misting are sometimes necessary to bring the adult fly population down to an acceptable level. However, those applications must be made with minimal contamination of the manure to preserve the natural populations of fly parasites and predators.


Regional Animal Health Centre for Western and Central Africa, B.P. 1820, Bamako, Mali
Corresponding author:

Family poultry (FP), which make up around 80% of poultry stocks in many developing countries of Africa and Asia, are still important. However, FP farmers are facing many constraints, including high mortality, mainly due to Newcastle disease and currently also to the highly pathogenic avian influenza in many countries since its occurrence in Asia in late 2003. Significant improvements in FP production systems can be achieved through well-designed and implemented information dissemination programmes that endow FP farmers with necessary knowledge and skills. The setting-up of poultry networks that enable FP farmers to acquire and share knowledge, views, experiences as well as research and development results in FP keeping in developing countries is discussed. Ways to improve the efficiency of information dissemination through poultry networks by taking into account the socio-cultural and economic environments of targeted FP farmers are also explored.

January 31, 2011


Sabuni, Z. A.

Ministry of Livestock Development, Kabete, P.O Box Private Bag, Kangemi, Kenya


In rural African villages, humans keep indigenous chicken which form a very important component in their lives. In the olden days, poultry were kept for sporting, idol worshipping and sacrifices to gods, and for prestige in terms of numbers owned by the farmers. Nowadays poultry contribute to the rural employment, family nutrition and income. They also form part of cultural life of rural people in form of special dishes and are given out as gifts to visitors and relatives. However, villagers share housing with these chicken which at a times may expose them to a range of parasites and diseases that are transmitted either directly or indirectly by vectors that feed on the chicken. In our previous studies in 2008, we found the prevalence of Plasmodium gallinaceum to be 53.5% in our study areas. Microscopy was the only method used in diagnosis hence possible errors being recorded: diagnosis (species found) and actual prevalence (cases with low parasitaemia per erythrocyte). A question arose on the possibility of cross transmission as the tendency of vectors feeding on both birds and human may be possible, and therefore provoked an urge to study further vector ecology, transmission routes, reservoir possibility between the two species.
My objectives are: first, to ascertain whether the Plasmodium spp., diagnosed in our previous study in chicken is actually avian and not human Plasmodium (employ up-to-date and specific tests example Molecular tools in diagnosis) since this is the first study to document prevalence of Plasmodium in chicken in this country. Secondly, establish the vector present in our study areas responsible for transmission, and evaluate their vector status. Thirdly, correlate the general prevalence and distribution of avian plasmodium to that of human within our study areas.
Molecular tools will be used to establish the species of Plasmodium in infected chicken and establishment of vector (infectivity) status of Mosquitoes found in the study zones. Geographical Information System (GIS) will be used to map the mosquitoes’ breeding habitats and distribution. The results will be analyzed using appropriate statistical packages.
Results from this study will provide notes on human-chicken interaction and malaria in-terms of vectors involved, their distribution, vector status and cross-transmission. The reports on vector distribution can be adapted as an indispensable constituent of selective malaria control strategy among human and birds’ population.