Livestock Research for Rural Development (11) 2 1999

http://www.cipav.org.co/lrrd/lrrd11/2/chad112.htm

Survey on family chicken farms in the rural area of N’Djaména, Chad

L Y Mopate and M Lony

Laboratoire de Recherches Vétérinaires et Zootechniques de Farcha,
BP 433, N’Djaména, Chad
cnaruser@sdntcd.undp.org

[Editors' Note: This article, edited and translated from the original French by E F Guèye, was first published in the INFPD (International Network on Family Poultry Development) Newsletter Vol. 8 No. 4, October-December 1998, and is reproduced with the permission of the editors of INFPD and the authors]

Abstract

An investigation on the status of family chicken systems was carried out on 57 chicken farms, located in 10 villages in the rural area of N’Djaména, Chad. It was found that chicks represented 51.2 percent of the flock. The sex ratio was six hens for one cock, and the average flock size per household was 16.3±11.1 chickens. Hatchings represented the most important intakes, while the principal offtakes consisted of mortality, sale and predation. The causes of mortality were diarrhoea, ectoparasites and respiratory diseases. The average mortality rate was 17 percent and the production efficiency 16 percent. Average traits of 125 hens were age 19±11 months, weight 1.2±0.3 kg, number of eggs per clutch 10.5±2.8, number of clutches per year about three, hatchability 79 percent, survival rate of chicks at weaning 55 percent, brooding period 52 days and interval between clutches from 80 to 90 days. Adequate disease control, reduction of chick losses and improvement in husbandry practices are recommended.

Key words: Chad, chicken, family poultry, flock structure, pathology, reproduction


Introduction

The poultry flock of Chad, officially estimated at 11 million in 1984 (Doutoum et al 1984), had increased to 24 million birds in 1997 (Abba et al 1997), representing an annual growth rate of 10 percent. The poultry flock is dominated by the domestic chicken "Gallus gallus". Family chicken keeping is a valuable asset for producers, especially in rural areas. It allows peasants to satisfy their unforeseen financial needs. For example, the purchase of cereals in the period of food scarcity is partly covered by income generated from the sale of birds. Moreover, after sale or barter (very popular in some regions of the country), family chickens contribute to acquire ruminants. Additionally, chicken meat consumption is a significant protein source which helps to cover the nutritional needs of the rural populations (Mopate et al 1997a). However, family chicken development in rural areas also has to cope with difficulties related to husbandry, health and production (Provost and Boredon 1968; Anonymous 1978; Aklobessi et al 1992; Abba 1994; Mopate et al 1997b; Guèye 1998).

To collect data on the production and reproductive performances and identify the constraints, a survey was conducted on farms in the rural areas of N’Djaména, Chad. Poultry keepers of this study area have benefited from interventions in poultry disease control provided by the ‘Volet Animaux Villageois’ (VAV), a component of the ‘Appui au Développement de l’Economie Rurale’ (ADER) project.


Materials and methods

The study was carried out on 57 farms located in 10 villages in the sub-prefecture of rural N’Djaména. They represented 10 percent of those who benefited from specific technical support provided by the project. Six voluntary chicken farmers per village were randomly selected for the survey, which lasted five months. All chickens of every farmer were taken into account for a collective survey, twice a month. In a flock, at most five hens identified by the plumage and rings were subjected to an individual investigation. The age groups considered were chicks (0 to 2 months), cockerels and pullets (3 to 5 months), hens and cocks (6 months and more). Data on the flock structure, the production and reproductive performances as well as health-related problems were collected. Information on the marketing of birds and eggs as well as the use of the generated income was also gathered. The software "Epi info" (Dean et al 1990) was used to record the data collected after each visit, and the data processing was carried out using the same software.

Results and discussion

Flock structure and production efficiency

The number of chickens in the study was 1125. The flock structure is presented in Table 1, on the basis of an equal number of male and female chicks after hatching.

Table 1: Structure of surveyed chicken flocks in the rural area of N’Djaména

Male

Number

Frequency, (%)

Female

Number

Frequency, (%)

Chicks

288

25.6

Chicks

288

25.6

Cockerels

129

11.5

Pullets

171

15.2

Cocks

36

3.2

Hens

213

18.9

Total

453

40.3

Total

672

59.7

The average  flock size per household was 16.3±11.1, and a sex ratio of 6 hens for one cock was observed. A core of breeding birds is preserved to maintain the flock. Moreover, there were more chicks (51.2 percent of the flock), which confirms previous findings reported in the area of North-Guéra (Mopate et al 1995).

The observed hen / cock ratio was double that of North-Guéra (Mopate et al 1995). Interventions offered in the N’Djaména rural area tend to stabilize the flocks and to persuade farmers to keep high numbers of hens. Moreover, average flock sizes per household were lower than those reported in other locations; i.e. 27 birds in North-Guéra (Mopate et al 1995) and 25 in Eastern-Chad (Mopate et al 1997a). The methodology used as well as the period of investigation could partly explain these differences.

During the survey, it was recorded that 207 birds came into the farms and the number removed from the flocks was 326 (Table 2). The offtakes constituted 29 percent of the total flock and the intakes were 18 percent.

Table 2: Frequencies of intakes and offtakes in surveyed farms

Intakes

Offtakes

Item

Frequency (%)

Item

Frequency (%)

Hatching

  87.4 (n = 181)

Death

  58.3 (n = 190)

Gift

  8.2 (n = 17)

Sale

18.7 (n = 61)

Purchase

2.4 (n = 5)

Predation

12.0 (n = 39)

Service rearing

2.0 (n = 4)

Home consumption

8.0 (n = 26)

Accident

3.0 (n = 10)

Total

100.0 (n = 207)   

Total

100.0 (n = 326)

The main predators were wild cats, raptors and snakes. Besides, villages situated near the roads were primarily affected by accidents due to vehicles. Other accidents were those occurring within the homesteads (e.g. fall of an article on a chicken, trampling, drowning of chicks in drinkers).

The frequencies of offtake according to the age groups of chickens (Table 3) showed that the chicks undergo significant losses, especially through mortality, predation and accidents. Similar high losses were reported in the traditional farms (Anonymous 1983). Moreover, the pullets and the cockerels were more exploited in village households. They made up 50 percent of sold birds and 70 percent of consumed ones.

Table 3: Frequencies (%) of offtake according to the chicken age in the surveyed farms

Category

Death

Sale

Consumption

Predation

Accident

Chicks

   79 (n = 151)

2 (n = 1)

-

95 (n = 37)

40 (n = 4)

Pullets

11 (n =20)

26 (n = 16)

23 (n = 6)

-

20 (n = 2)

Cockerels

4 (n = 7)

23 (n = 14)

46 (n =12)

-

30 (n = 3)

Hens

  6 (n = 11)

39 (n = 24)

31 (n = 8)

5 (n = 2)

10 (n = 1)

Cocks

0 (n = 1)

10 (n = 6)   

-

-

-

The average mortality rate was 17 percent (26 percent in chicks, 5 percent in cockerels, 12 percent in pullets, 5 percent in hens and 3 percent in cocks). Specific interventions in poultry disease control offered to farmers of the study area could explain this low mortality rate. Furthermore, the average mortality rate and overall losses were lower in males (cockerels and cocks) than in females (pullets and hens). This might be explained by the fact that males are more exploited and, thus, are removed earlier from the flocks, whereas females remain longer in the farms.

The production efficiency rate was defined as the number of exploited birds to the total number in the flock, which are more than 2 months old ratio (i.e. excluding chicks, which are generally not exploited). This rate amounted to 16 percent. This is low but acceptable, taking into account the duration of the survey and the existence of peak periods in the year for sales (festivals, foreseen disease outbreaks, etc.). However, annual production efficiencies of more than 90 percent were reported in Chad (Doutoum et al 1984; Mopate et al 1997a).

Economy

The average prices, in F CFA (1 US$ ~ 500 F CFA) and by age group, were: 1,100 for pullets; 1,020 for cockerels; 1,200 for cocks and 1,485 for hens. The average price in markets located in the study area was about 1,200 F CFA per chicken. This was higher than average prices reported in markets of North-Guéra, varying from 600 to 700 F CFA (Mopate et al 1995). The presence of various middlemen and urban dwellers from the capital-city, the higher purchasing power of the buyers and the reduced offer of birds all contributed to increase the prices.

The sale of 61 chickens generated 75,000 F CFA for the poultry keepers. This amount was used as follows: 40 percent for the acquisition of usual domestic goods (soap, tea, sugar, oil, condiments, etc.), 30 percent for the purchase of clothes and shoes, 20 percent for the business and 10 percent for purchasing other chickens. These results confirm those reported by Mopate et al (1997a). The two main reasons for consuming chicken meat are the special banquets for family guests (70 percent) and the usual home consumption.

Health problems

:Principal symptoms observed by farmers, prior to the death of their chickens, are given in Table 4. There is a high prevalence of ectoparasites, diarrhoea and nasal flow as causal agents.

Table 4: Frequencies (%) of observed symptoms prior to the death of chickens

Symptoms

Chicks

Pullets

Cockerels

Hens

Ectoparasites

33.3

20.0

33.4

-

White diarrhoea

16.6

-

-

-

Yellow diarrhoea

16.6

20.0

33.3

33.3

Green diarrhoea

11.1

40.0

33.3

33.3

Red diarrhoea

-

-

-

16.7

Sudden death

5.6

-

-

-

Nasal flow

16.8

20.0

-

16.7

The white diarrhoea was observed only in chicks, while the red diarrhoea was noted in hens. In contrast, the yellow and green diarrhoea affected all categories. The white diarrhoea in chicks might be pullorum. Indeed, Mopate et al (1997b) reported similar symptoms in the central-eastern area with a high mortality rate (68 percent). The red diarrhoea is due to coccidiosis. Provost and Boredon (1968) reported that the local hens in Chad constitute reservoirs of oocysts but are clinically less affected. The yellow and green diarrhoeas are the symptoms of infectious diseases such as Newcastle disease, fowl typhoid, fowl cholera, etc. The ectoparasitism constituted a major problem in the surveyed flocks. These external parasites were mentioned by the chicken farmers in North-Guéra as being their second concern after Newcastle disease (Mopate et al 1997b).

Reproductive traits

The average age of the 125 laying hens in the study was 19±11 months. The average live weight and clutch number were 1.2±0.3 kg and 3.0±2.7, respectively. The average liveweight is similar to that reported by Anonymous (1978); however, the hens generally continued to gain weight after the first laying period. For 12 percent of hens studied, the causes of offtake were mortality (33 percent), sale (27 percent), predation (20 percent) and domestic consumption (20 percent).

Average reproductive parameters per hen recorded over 2 laying cycles were as follows:

The interval between clutches allowed for about 3 clutches per year. All the eggs laid were generally incubated. The laying period, depending on the number of eggs laid, ranged from 8 to 12 days. The number of eggs laid was consistent with those reported by other authors (Aklobessi et al 1992; Abba 1994; Mopate et al 1995). The hatchability rate was lower in comparison with that of North-Guéra which was given to be 85 percent (Mopate et al 1995). The following hatchability rates (percent) have been reported in Chad: 65 (Aklobessi et al 1992) and 30 to 70 (Provost and Boredon 1968). The average brooding period was consistent with the value reported by Abba (1994). The interval between clutches was close to that reported by Aklobessi et al (1992). The annual clutch number in this study was lower than that observed by Mopate et al (1995) who reported 4 clutches per year. However, Aklobessi et al (1992) noted 3 to 4 clutches per year. The feeding and husbandry practices may explain these differences.


Conclusions

The study highlighted production and health constraints on family chicken farms in the rural area of N’Djaména, Chad. The flock structure showed that there were more chicks than adults in the village flocks. Besides, the chicks underwent more losses, resulting from diseases and unsuitable husbandry practices, which led to high offtakes through mortality, predation and accidents. Data on the flock structure and the production efficiency emphasized the socio-economic role of chickens in the village agricultural systems. The health problems related to infectious diseases and parasites constituted a bottleneck in the development of this poultry sector. The reproductive performances of local hens of the study area were generally  consistent with values reported for local hens in other African countries. Interventions to be recommended should take into account not only the control of infectious diseases and parasitism but also the control of rearing risks, which may lead to high losses in

References

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Received 6 May 1999

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