Products: Stockfeed and Poultry
Program Phase: Scale
Program Partners: Base Resources and Pwani University
In rural areas of Kenya where resources and food are scarce, small-scale poultry production systems are an excellent way to address both food and income insecurity. They also enable mixed farming practices, contribute to women’s empowerment, and through higher income earnings, facilitate access to healthcare and education.
B4D has been working with the Kwale community to develop a locally owned stockfeed and poultry program. To achieve this, a number of challenges needed to be addressed.
Stockfeed: Feed accounts for more than 70% of total production costs in a poultry program. The quality of stockfeed determines the maturity period of the poultry and the quality of poultry products (meat and eggs) – key determinants of net profit. When designing the stockfeed for Kwale community, B4D needed to address key barriers, including:
- Access to quality stockfeed with key ingredients being locally sourced;
- Access to stockfeed which is age and breed specific; and
- Affordability of that stockfeed.
Poultry: Kenya has an estimated poultry population of 32 million birds, with indigenous poultry forming the largest proportion of 75%, layers and broilers 24%, while other poultry species make up 2% (Source: Agri Farming).
The challenge with indigenous poultry rearing is:
- Poultry production is a low-input low-output system where indigenous birds are left to freely roam for feed and receive household .
- Birds are rarely vaccinated or treated when sick. As a result, they are not productive birds and take about 9-12 months to reach a weight between 1.5-2kg, and because they take a long time to brood their chicks, they only produce about 90 eggs per annum.
- Due to disease and inadequate biosecurity, there are higher mortality rates for the poultry.
In order for Kwale to have a successful poultry program, the husbandry management, the feeding and the breed of the bird needed to be addressed.
People raise poultry around the world under widely varying circumstances. Their main objective is generally the same: maximum production for minimum costs and with minimum risks. Changing any form of production equals risk, and with a poverty level of 74% in Kwale (Source: Kenya Bureau of Statistics), there is little margin for error. When adding anything new to a community, it is important to prove the new way results in better outcomes than previous methods. This builds trust and interest in the adoption of new approaches to farming.
For the Stockfeed and Poultry Program, the approach was split into four key trials to achieve trust:
- Stockfeed production: A preliminary survey was conducted to establish the feasibility and the sources of stockfeed ingredients necessary for poultry production. Stockfeed trials were carried out to compare the performance of stockfeed produced by the PAVI cooperative versus a commercial stockfeed. The analysis of the results from layers, broilers and dual-purpose poultry, indicated the PAVI cooperative stockfeed was achieving superior performance results, reducing mortality rate, and achieving a higher margin compared to the commercial feed.
- Dual-purpose Poultry: B4D built a community poultry shed in Kwale. Here the team procured Redbro chickens (a dual-purpose bird) and reared them to 20 weeks of age. Twenty-six vulnerable community members were trained in basic husbandry management before each received five hens and a rooster. Each household that benefited from the poultry distribution, was required to have an indigenous hen to sit on the fertile eggs produced by the Redbro, who tend to not be a maternal bird.
B4D conducted monthly follow-up meetings where farmers could learn from each other’s challenges and experiences. Farmer-to-farmer communication resulted in higher levels of engagement, and farmers were motivated and recognised their own responsibility for the success of the program.
- Broiler Poultry: Broilers are key birds to improving access to meat protein for Kwale. To achieve the maximum production for minimum costs ratio, B4D conducted a trial to improve the health and weight of the birds. The poultry was fed age-specific stockfeed, and the harvesting period was lengthened from 6 to 8 weeks. The chickens were fed mash instead of pelleted feed, ensuring slower consumption and reducing mortality. The broiler chickens were also vaccinated three times to reduce the burden of disease.
- Layer Poultry: Layer production was introduced to the program in 2017. Here 10 households benefited from the program. Each household was given 10-layer hens. The program also supported two disabled groups and two schools with a combined pupil population of 340. Each pupil was given 2 eggs per week and the smallholder farmers received 6 per week. The disabled groups derived an income from the sale of eggs and nutrition by buying eggs for home consumption at half price from the farm. These smallholder farmers have increased the accessibility of eggs to community members.
B4D has also worked to improve the productivity of the birds through:
- Training farmers in good husbandry practices for poultry production.
- Procuring and supporting farmers to vaccinate their birds and supplying medicine if their birds became sick.
- Improving the living conditions of the birds through designing poultry houses that can be made from locally sourced material.
- Procuring well-priced water equipment for community members to purchase.
Through these simple changes in bird management, the community could see that the investments achieve better results for their families.
B4D, with PAVI cooperative, continue to support the Kwale community in the production of both stockfeed and poultry. To date, the following results have been achieved:
- Produced high-quality feed (resulting from the use of locally sourced wholegrain and pulses) which was 30% cheaper compared to commercial stockfeed available in the market.
- PAVI now produces one tonne of stockfeed every two weeks, creating a steady income stream for the cooperative.
- Through sourcing local ingredients for the stockfeed, smallholder farmers selling ingredients (e.g., cotton seed and maize), have a ready market for their produce.
- Poultry producers can now access high-quality, affordable stockfeed, which is specifically formulated to suit both the breed and age of the bird.
- Economically empowered over 400 women through the program. Some farmers earn an average of Kshs 300,000 per month (US$2,484) from the sale of their poultry and eggs.
- In addition, B4D supported one deaf school (with 45 pupils), two youth groups (with 46 members) and two disabled groups (with 32 members) to join the program. Through including these groups, the program has provided them not only the means to earn an income and support their activities, but it’s also provided important nutrition to the members of these groups.
- Improved survival rate of the birds from 40% to 90%.
- Increased the uptake of dual-purpose poultry as agribusiness among the community members. Resulting in access to eggs for own consumption, improving nutrition outcomes, and the ability to sell the eggs, supporting economic outcomes.
- Developed a robust biosecurity protocol suited to village poultry.
- Reduced mortality rate from 8-10% to below 1% in 8 weeks.
- Increased dressed weight of broilers from 1.5kg to highly demanded 2-3kg.
- Improved margins for broiler farmers by 40%.
- Supported the women to start local food kiosks to sell chickens, therefore improving their income further by involving them in the poultry value chain.
- Developed an age-specific broiler stockfeed to meet the demands of a larger broiler.
- Developed a robust broiler vaccination program.
- The average flock size for smallholder farmer is 200 layers, producing a profit of kshs 29,000 (US$240) per month
- The schools have flock’s of 1,000 birds, earning an average income of kshs 235,000 (US$1,900) per month per school.
- Generally, persons with disabilities in Kenya are economically deprived. This is mainly due to a number of barriers including: stigma and marginalisation, poverty, limited access to opportunities and benefits, and low self-esteem. The poultry program has provided these groups the opportunity to participate and has encouraged self-belief through being part of a program that supports their own well-being. Most of the eggs produced are used for nutritional purposes.
Due to these results, the uptake of poultry business by women, schools and disabled groups has increased significantly, and there is a thriving poultry business in Kwale addressing both nutrition and income security.