Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (6) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Marketing System, Socio Economic Role and Intra Household Dynamics of Indigenous Chicken in Gomma Wereda, Jimma Zone, Ethiopia

M Meseret, D Solomon and D Tadelle*

Department of Animal Sciences, Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.
P.O.Box 307, Jimma, Ethiopia
* International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


A survey of marketing system, socio economic role and intra household dynamics of indigenous chicken was conducted in Gomma Wereda located at 390 km southwest of Addis Ababa. Six Kebeles of the Wereda were randomly identified and 30 households (hh) randomly selected from each kebele were used to collect data on the profile of the respondents, chicken population and flock structure, marketing system, socio economic role and intra household dynamics of the indigenous chicken using questionnaire, regular visit and target group discussions.

 The results obtained showed that the mean flock size/hh of the study area (6.23 chickens) was greater than that of the national average (4.1) and strangely dominated by hens of > 5 months of age. Informal and open markets of live birds and eggs are common throughout the Wereda. There is variation in market price of chickens and eggs attributed to the physical condition of the birds, disease outbreak, time of incubation, and holidays and festivals. Both eggs and chickens pass through different individuals before reaching consumers and about 52.2% of the market chickens and eggs are collected and transported by retailers to terminal markets contributing to disease spread and quality deterioration.

About 96.7% of the ownership of chicken was held by women and with the exception of poultry house construction all the other activities including marketing are done by women indicating that village chickens are source of self-reliance for women. There are no taboos connected to consumption of poultry. And yet, chickens and eggs are not among staple food items in the Gomma Wereda. The results obtained also showed that lack of access to credit and high prevalence of disease conditions and predators are the major constraints to improve household poultry in the study area.  

Key words: Eggs, flock size, indigenous chickens, live bird and marketing structure


Nearly all rural and peri-urban families in the developing world keep household poultry. In Africa, village poultry contributes over 70% of poultry products and 20% of animal protein intake (Kitalyi 1998). In East Africa over 80% of human population live in rural areas and over 75% of these households keep indigenous chickens and Ethiopia is not exception to this situation (Kitalyi 1998). Recent estimates put the poultry population of Ethiopia at around 34.2 million with native chicken of none descriptive breeds representing 94.4%, hybrid chicken 3.92% and exotic breeds of chickens mainly kept in urban and peri-urban areas 0.64% (CSA 2003). The total national annual poultry meat and eggs production is estimated at 72 300 and 78 000 metric tones, respectively and indigenous poultry contribute almost 99% of the national egg and poultry meat production (Tadelle and Peters  2003).

Rural household poultry is affordable source of animal protein and family income. Poultry is a source of self-reliance for women since, poultry and egg sales are decided by women (Aklilu et al 2007) both of which provide women with an immediate income to meet household expenses and sources of food. Household poultry require limited space, feed and capital investment compared to other domestic animals kept in rural Ethiopia. The indigenous chickens also represent part of the livestock production system. Thus household poultry of the Ethiopian indigenous chicken has a unique position in the rural household economy and plays a significant role in the religious and cultural life of the society (Tadelle and Ogle 1996a). However, the contribution of the Ethiopian indigenous chicken to human nutrition and export earnings is disproportionately small. All the available literature tends to indicate that the per capita poultry and poultry product consumption in Ethiopia is one of the lowest in the world: 57 eggs and 2.85 kg of chicken meat per annum (Alemu 1995). The indigenous flocks are considered to be very poor in egg production performance attributed to the low genetic potential (slow growth rate, late sexual maturity and broodiness for an extended period).

The low productivity of local scavenging chickens is not only because of their low egg production potential, but also due to high chick mortality and longer reproductive cycle. About 40-60% of the chicks hatched die during the first 8 weeks of age (Hoyle 1992, Tadelle and Ogle 1996a) mainly due to disease and predators attack. About half of the eggs produced have to be hatched to replace chicken that have died (Tadelle and Ogle 1996a), and the brooding time of the laying hens is longer, with many brooding cycles required to compensate for its unsuccessful brooding. It is estimated that, under scavenging conditions, the reproductive cycle of indigenous hens consists of 20-days of laying phase, 21-days of incubation phase and 56-days of brooding phase (Alemu and Tadelle 1997). This implies the fact that, the number of clutches per hen per year is probably 2-3. Assuming 3 clutches per hen per year, the hen would have to stay for about 168 days out of production every year, entirely engaged in brooding activities.

The low productivity of the indigenous stock could also partially be attributed to the low management standard of the traditional household poultry production system. It have been seen that the provision of vaccination, improved feeding, clean water and night time enclosure improve the performance of the indigenous chickens, but not to an economically acceptable level (Teketel 1986; and Abebe 1 992).Unfortunately however, the chicken population, flock structure, poultry marketing and socio-economic role and intra household dynamics of indigenous chickens   in Gomma Wereda is little know. This condition calls for a scientific study in the area of characterization of the village chicken followed by the identification of technological interventions. This being the cases, this study is aimed at investigating into the population, flock structure, marketing system, socio economic role and intra household dynamics of indigenous chicken in Gomma Wereda, Jimma Zone, Ethiopia.

 Material and Methods

Description of the Study Area

The study was conducted in Gomma Wereda of Jimma Zone, Oromia Regional State. Gomma Wereda is located at about 390 km Southwest of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. It is one of the administrative units (equivalent to district) found in Jimma Zone. The topography of the study area ranges from gentle sloppy to hilly lands with ridges and valleys in between. Agro-ecologically, Gomma district is classified as 96% Weina Dega (wet midland) and 4% kolla (lowland). The altitude of Gomma Wereda ranges from 1380 to 1680 meters above sea level; however, some points along the southern and western boundaries have altitudes ranging from 2229 to 2870 meters (IPMS 2007). The mean annual rainfall is about 1524 mm with bi-modal distribution. There are 36 rural and 3 urban Kebeles (the smallest administrative unit in Ethiopia) in the Wereda. The total agricultural households of the Wereda are 45,567 of which 78% and 22% is male and female headed, respectively (IPMS 2007). The total area of the Wereda is 96.4 km2 and the total population of the Wereda is reported to be 216,662 of which 51% are males (IPMS 2007). 

Selection of Participating Households

Multi stage probability random sampling method was followed to select six Kebeles namely; Belfo Konche, Limu Sapa, Bulbulo, Koye Seja, Kilole Kirkir and Beshasha. Two kebeles each were randomly selected from each of the high (1855 - 17051), medium (1025 -1765) and low (407 - 1011) chicken population.  A total of 30 households were randomly selected from each of the six Kebeles (Table 1 and Figure 1). Thus a total of 180 (6x30) households were used to carry out the survey on population, flock structure, marketing system, socio economic role and intra household dynamics of the indigenous chicken of the Gomma Wereda.

Figure 1:  Map of Gomma Wereda with the selected Kebeles.

Table 1.   Sampling Frame of households in each Kebele.

Poultry Population


Number of Households

High (1855 - 17051)

Belefo Konche
Limu Sapa


Medium (1025-1765)

Koye Seja


Low (407 – 1011)

Kilole Kirkir





Data Collection

Questionnaire was used to collect data from primary source which mainly comprised of households, development agents and key informants followed by review of the available secondary data source. A visit to physical facility of live bird and egg markets and open discussion with poultry farmers and live bird and egg sellers, buyers and intermediaries were also made. Finally data on the profile of the respondents, population and flock structure, marketing system, socio economic role and intra household dynamics of the indigenous chicken of the study area were collected.  

Statistical Analysis

Descriptive statistics such as mean, range, frequency and percentage were calculated and all the surveyed data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2007). The descriptive statistics (mean, SD) for numerical survey data were subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using the general linear model procedure of SPSS. The relationship between any two quantitative variables was determined using Spearman correlation coefficient (Gomez 1984).

Results and Discussions

Respondent’s profile 

About 70% of the interviewed farmers were females and 95.6% of the respondents were fully involved in farming activities as means of livelihood. The remaining 4.4% of the respondents were merchants. The majority of the respondents (97.2%) were married and (Figure 2b) and the largest proportion (82.8%) of the respondents was within the age group of 31 -60 years. About 86.1% of the respondents were Muslim whereas the remaining 12.8% and 1.1% were Orthodox Christian and Protestants respectively (Figure 2a). About 82.2% and 17.8% of the respondents reported to have experience of 2 to 14 and 15 to 40 years in poultry rearing respectively. About 23.3% of the interviewed farmers were illiterate while 15% read and write. About 25, 25.6 and 11.1% of the literate respondents had gone through primary first cycle (1-4), primary second cycle (5-8) and high school (9-12) education respectively.

Figure 2a. Age, income level and religion  of the respondents   Figure 2b. Major occupation, sex and marital  status of the respondents
Flock Structure and Characteristics

The plumage colors of the local chicken found in the study area are mixed (black, white, red, grey etc). The total numbers of chicken in the study area was 1121 ranging from 152 to 233 within the kebeles selected. The mean number of chicken in each Kebeles was 186.8. The flock size and structure of indigenous chickens in Gomma Wereda of Jimma Zone are shown in Table 2. Flock structure is described in terms of proportion of the different sex and age groups in the flock. The results of this study showed that the mean flock size per household is 6.23 chickens, the mean value of which is comparable to that reported by Tadelle and Ogle (1996a) and Sonaiya (1990), who reported mean flock size of 7-10 and 5-10 chickens/household from the central high lands of Ethiopia and Africa, respectively. On the other side, the mean flock size recorded in this study is lower than the mean flock size of 8.8 and 9.2 chickens/ household reported by Assefa (2007) from Awassa Zuria and by Mekonnen (2007) from Dale Wereda in   Ethiopia, respectively. The mean flock size/household recorded from the current study(6.23 chicken) is higher than the national (4.1) and Oromia Regional state (3.6) averages reported by CSA (2003); but lower than that of Tigray (7.2), Gambella (7.5) and Benshangul-Gumuz (7.6) Regional States (CSA, 2003). The general indication is that the national average indigenous chicken flock size reported from Ethiopia (4.1) is significantly lower than that reported from other developing countries such as Philippines (19), Uganda (18) and Sudan (22) (Eugene 2004; Sewannyana et al 2004 and Khalafalla  2000) respectively. The variation in flock size within Ethiopia and lower flock size average for Ethiopia has been attributed to the farming systems practiced and prevalence of local factors such as diseases and predators (Kuit et al 1986).  

As shown in Table 2, the indigenous chicken population of Gomma Wereda is dominated by hens (> 5 months of age) and chicks (0-8 weeks of age), followed by pullets, cocks and cockerels. Hens and chicks accounts for 43% and 27% of the total indigenous chicken population of the study area respectively. The results of the present study agrees with that of Mekonnen ( 2007), who reported flock composition of 33%, 27%, 17%, 10% and 13% for hens, chicks, pullets, cockerels and cocks from the indigenous chicken population of Dale Wereda of Southern Ethiopia respectively. On the contrary, the flock composition obtained from the indigenous chicken population of Gomma Wereda did not concur with the findings of Tadelle and Ogle (1996a) who reported that chicks’ (0-8 weeks of age) account for the largest segments (53%) of the indigenous chicken population of the central highlands of Ethiopia, followed by mature hens (> 5 months of age) comprising of 43% of the flock. The trends in indigenous chickens flock structure reported by Tadelle and Ogle (1996a) seems to be representative of the national indigenous chickens flock structure reported by CSA (2003).

There were a consistent higher proportion of hens (> 5 months of age) and lower proportion of cockerels (2-5 months of age), cocks (> 5months of age) and pullets (2-5 months of age) in the indigenous chicken population of the study area. The higher proportion of hens in the population is an indication of strong desire for egg and chick production (Wilson et al 1987; Abdou and Bell 1992). The relatively large proportion of hens per household in the study area might purposively done by the farmers’ to increase egg production and securing the sources of replacement flocks. It might as well be attributed to lack of strong selection and culling against the hens and build up of old and unproductive hens in the flocks. The comparatively larger number of pullets per household compared to the proportions of cockerels and cocks within the Gomma Woreda indigenous chicken population (Table 2) could be a copping mechanism to replace the number of chicken reduced by selling, consumption and loss due to different reasons.

Table 2.  Flock size and structure of indigenous chickens in Goamma Wereda, Ethiopia.

Chicken category

Chicken per HH

% of chicken per HH

Percent of respondents owning Chickens (%)

Mean SD









































Over all







The lower proportion of the cockerels and cock within the indigenous chicken population might be attributed to the sale of cockerels and cocks. Few cockerels and cocks are maintained in a flock for breeding and sharing of cocks among neighbors seems to be a breeding strategy of the community. These have been demonstrated that, about 47.8% of the respondents reported to have no breeding cock. The transect walk conducted in the study area and a discussion made with key informants demonstrated that, there is free movement of all birds around the compounds of the households, irrespective of age and sex. Such a tradition resulted in indiscriminate mating system in which aggressive and dominant cocks in the neighborhood tends to be a sire in the large segment of the village  which in turn resulted in lack of controlled breeding. The respondents also indicated that farmers in the study area have the experience of removing the males from the flocks at an early age to minimize cock fighting.  

Marketing System

There is no formal poultry and poultry product marketing channel in the Gomma Wereda and informal marketing of live birds and eggs involving open markets are common through out the Wereda. The farmers directly sell their chicken to consumers and/or to small retail (traders) who take them to large urban centers. Live chickens and eggs are sold either at the farm gate, small village market (primary market) or at larger Wereda market (Secondary market in the town). There is exchange of commodities through out the week with one regular market day at the center of each Kebele. The results of this study clearly showed that both eggs and chickens pass through different individuals before reaching consumers.

The regular customers of live birds and eggs of the Gomma Wereda are shown in (Figure 3). About 52.2% of chickens are collected by retailers and direct consumers. At all the market areas of Gomma Wereda and in most of the cases, the sale and purchase of live chickens and eggs is the responsibility of female indicating that household poultry is a source of self-reliance for women, since live bird and egg sales are decided by women, both of which provide women with an immediate income to meet household expenses. Unstable price and demand seasonality are the problems of egg and live chickens marketing in the study area (Figure 4).

Figure 3: The regular clients for live birds and egg marketing in Gomma Wereda in  Ethiopia.

Figure 4:  Problems of egg and chicken marketing in Gomma Wereda..

According to the results of this study, there is variation in price of eggs and live birds attributed to disease outbreak, time of incubation, and holidays and festivals (Figure 4). The price of live birds further varies based on body weight, feather color, comb type, age and sex. Producers get better price both for live birds and eggs during holidays and festivals. Live birds and eggs are carried by foot and pieces of cloth, plastic shopping bags and basket are used to transport eggs to the market in Gomma Wereda, all of which could result in breakage and deterioration in egg quality. Moreover the live bird market of Gomma Wereda is characterized by small unhygienic selling space and lack of shelter, feed and water.

This result agree with that of Solomon (2007), who reported that in Ethiopia, indigenous birds and eggs could be transported over longer distances to supply urban markets which results in quality deterioration. Both eggs and live birds are transported either on foot or using public transportation along with other bags, sacks of grains, bundles of fire wood etc. About 57.1% of the respondents stored the market eggs on the nest. The remaining 18.5% and 5.6% of the respondents stored in the basket and in the iron dish respectively.

Figure 5. Causes of price variation for eggs and chickens in Gomma Wereda, Ethiopia.

On average the market eggs were stored for 12.15 days before sold. In this study, all of the respondents stored eggs for more than 15 days before incubation. About 29.4%, 50.6% and 20% of the respondents stored the eggs from 15 to 20, 21 to 26 and 27 to 35 days before incubation respectively. 

Socio Economic Aspects of Chicken Production

The results of this study indicate that there are no cultural or religious taboos connected to production and consumption of poultry (chickens) and poultry products in the Gomma Wereda. About 94% of the respondents reported to consume eggs 1-6 times a year whereas as 4% of the respondents do not consume eggs at all. About 80% of the respondents consume poultry meat 1-2 times a year indicating egg consumption is comparatively affordable than poultry meat from the point of view of purchasing power since there seems to be no taboos connected to the consumption of poultry and poultry product in the study area. It is reported that 78% of the total egg produced in the Wereda are meant for sale. The purpose of chicken rearing in the study areas was reported to be for sale (50%), replacement (35%) and consumption (15%) showing that household poultry of indigenous chickens is source of family income and poultry and poultry products are not among staple food items in the Gomma Wereda. The results of this study is not in agreement with that of Tadelle and Peters (2003) who reported that 52% of the eggs produced under the Ethiopian village chicken production system are incubated in order to replace the new stock.

The major input required to initiate and run rural household poultry in Gomma Wereda are financial resource to purchase foundation and replacement stocks (49.4% of respondents) and feed (37.2% of respondents). About 7.8% and 5.6% of the respondents reported to have spent money for the purchase of pharmaceuticals and construction of poultry houses respectively. The Majority of the respondents (84.4%) are interested in improving their poultry production through better feeding, health care and housing. However, the results of this study clearly showed that, there is no credit access designed for chicken production in the Gomma Wereda before launching IPMS (Improving productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian farmers) project. Lack of access to credit and relevant technical extension package seems to be a limiting gap in the area of rural household poultry production in Gomma Wereda. The remaining 15.6% of the respondents are reluctant to invest on poultry mainly due to wide spread disease conditions and high prevalence of predators, among other reasons (Table 3) indicating that Poultry diseases are widely spread in the Wereda and household poultry became untenable due to disease and predations.

Table 3:  Barriers for future expansion of poultry in Gomma Wereda, Ethiopia







Predator & disease



Predator, disease & financial problems



Predator, disease & land scarcity



Predator, disease, lack of labor & financial problems



Feed shortage & predator



The contribution of poultry and their products to the household cash income are generally difficult to assess. Nevertheless, the sub-sector is considered as a viable and promising alternative source of income for rural households in developing countries (Oh 1990). The mean annual income from sale of eggs in Gomma Wereda is estimated to be about Birr 174.26. About 70% of the respondents reported to spend earnings from chicken and egg sale for the purchase of items for home consumption (food, salt, oil, fuel etc) and to cover educational materials (books, pen, pencils, uniforms and an immediate cash inquires from the school). 

Intra-household Dynamics and Labor Profile

The intra-household dynamics refers to the way in which household members behave and react to each other in the production process. According to this finding, about 96.7% of ownership of chicken was held by women. This value was higher than the value reported by Hoyle (1992) who reported elder men and women accounted for 30% and 47% ownership respectively in Welaita area of Southern Ethiopia. This result was similar to the findings of Tadelle and Peters (2003) who reported that women owned and manage birds and controlled the cash generated from the sale of bird in the central highlands of Ethiopia. The ownership of village chickens in most African societies is a product of social and cultural aspects of societies (Sonaiya 1990a). The ownership pattern was usually related to decision making in selling and consumption of chicken and eggs.

About 90% of house construction in the study area was covered by the men. According to Fisseha (2009), this value was 97.5% for men. However, women were highly responsible for many activities like provision of water and supplementary feed to chicken (100%), selling of chicken (94%) & cleaning chicken’s waste in their night time resting areas (91%). Concerning these values Fisseha (2009) reported women were responsible for cleaning bird’s house (38.6%), provision of supplementary feed to birds (80.7%) and selling of chicken (46.8%). The result of the study was similar with the findings of Bradley (1992), who reported that management of village chicken had been highly associated with women for various historical and social factors. Riise et al (2004). Kitalyi (1998) also reported that women and children were generally in charge of rural village chicken husbandry practices in developing countries.  


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Received 11 May 2011; Accepted 28 May 2011; Published 19 June 2011

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