Livestock Research for Rural Development 26 (11) 2014 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

The status of local chicken (Gallus domesticus) production in Northern Uganda

C Nakkazi, A Kayitesi, H E Mulindwa1, D R Kugonza and M W Okot2

Department of Agricultural production, College of Agricultural and Environmental sciences, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
christinenakkazi@yahoo.com
1National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), P. O. Box 96, Tororo, Uganda.
2Department of Animal Production and Range Management, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University, P .O. Box 166, Gulu, Uganda

Abstract

A baseline study was conducted to determine the status of indigenous chicken production in Gulu and Kiryandongo districts with a major focus on demographic characteristics, general management, production, feeds and feeding. A total of 121 households were used for the study in two sub-counties from each district. The data were collected using a pre-tested structured questionnaire and then analysed using version 16, SPSS computer package.

It was observed that the average household size was ten people in both districts. Land ownership was mainly customary in Gulu (93.3%) and private in Kiryandongo (37.7%). The respondents kept chickens, cattle, goats, pigs, and sheep. However chickens were ranked highest in relation to other livestock kept by farmers. The average chicken flock size was 34 ▒ 3 birds per household, composed of three cocks, eight hens, eight pullets, six cockerels, and ten chicks. Sexual maturity for both male and female chickens was attained at six months of age. Farmers reported an average clutch size of 14 eggs per hen with three laying cycles per year. The data also revealed that most of the farmers (92.6%) would wish to provide supplementary feed routinely if it was available and 95.9% currently provide water to their chickens. The feedstuffs provided by some farmers included maize (Zea mays), sorghum ( Sorghum bicolor), millet (Eleusine coracona), ground nuts (Arachis hypogea), soybeans (Glycine max) as well as milling by-products such as maize and rice bran. Availability of these feedstuffs varies with seasons, being more readily available in the dry seasons and scarce towards the end of the dry season and in the rainy season.Eggs and chicken contribute to protein nutrition and food security and are also occasionally sold for income generation. It was concluded that indigenous chickens form an integral part of rural livelihoods in Northern Uganda. The majority of farmers would provide supplemental feed to free range chickens if it was readily available. Feed supplementation strategies carefully designed to meet the nutritional requirements for the birds all year round would significantly improve the productivity of local chickens.

Key words: feed seasonality, flocks, scavenging chickens


Introduction

In Uganda poultry is a major component of rural livelihoods. Chickens dominate the poultry industry and the national chicken population was estimated to be approximately 34.7 million (UBOS 2010). This population includes both the indigenous and exotic breeds, with the indigenous chickens making up to 80% of the national flock.

Local chickens are mainly kept to provide occasional meat, eggs and income. In addition, local chickens play a number of social-cultural functions. For example, in the Acholi tradition chickens are given as part of the bride ‘price’ in marriage. The gizzard of a chicken must be served to the male visitor when the chicken is slaughtered in his honour. Among the Madi people, cocks or hens with white plumage colour are used to cleanse cultural or ritual misfortunes, while black ones are used in rituals to condemn or curse social offenders.

The local chickens are also generally rated superior to the exotic breeds for the following reasons: - They are more resistant to diseases, have high tolerance to heat and cold, better scavengers, have better mothering ability and will defend their young ones against predators (Bushra 2012, King’ori et al 2010). These traits make them more adaptable to the village settings. Other traits of preference attributed to local chickens include the taste of eggs and meat which enhances their market value.

Despite the importance of local chickens in northern Uganda, scanty information is available about their productivity, flock composition, feeds and feeding management. This study was therefore conducted to establish such information which can provide a basis for interventions that will enable full exploitation of their genetic potentials.


Materials and Methods

The study area

This study was conducted in Gulu and Kiryandongo districts. Gulu District is located approximately 340 kilometres north of the Uganda's capital city, Kampala. It lies between 2˚46'48N and 32˚18'00E degrees East longitude. The District is bordered by Lamwo District to the north, Kitgum district to the North East, Pader District to the east, Oyam District to the South, Nwoya District to the South West and Amuru District to the West. The region was chosen because of the rampant poverty and malnutrition which resulted from two decades of war; and the recent geo-political changes in Southern Sudan which have opened up a potentially huge market for chicken meat and eggs.

Kiryandongo district is located between 10 22’ and 20 20’ North of the Equator, longitude 310 22’ and 320 23’ East of Greenwich. The District is bordered by Nwoya District to the North, Oyam District to the North East, Apac District to the East, and Masindi District to the South and West. This district was also chosen because of the high level of poverty in the area and the infrastructural development due to the on-going oil exploration in the region, which is likely to stimulate economic development, and hence demand for poultry and their products.

Study methods

A cross section baseline survey was conducted, using a pre-tested questionnaire. A descriptive and purposive survey design was used to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. Emphasis was put on smallholder farmers with indigenous chicken flocks. Two sub-counties were selected from each district while two parishes were selected from each of the selected sub-counties, making a total of four parishes per district. Individual interviews were carried out covering a total of 121 households. The data were subsequently analyzed using version 16 of the SPSS computer package.


Results and Discussion

Household composition and land tenure system

The data on the household composition and the land tenure systems in the two districts are shown in Table 1. The average family size in Gulu was 11 people while that of Kiryandongo was 10. This is higher than the average for Uganda (UBOS 2010) which is 5 people per household.

Gulu district is inhabited by one ethnic group, the Acholi. According to the culture of this tribe a household can have several families where the father is the head of the household, while his sons and their families are members of the household. During the two decades of war many people from Gulu and neighbouring districts took refuge in Kiryandongo and established communities that lived together in larger households. This may explain why the average size of households observed in this study was higher than the national average in both districts.

Regarding the land tenure system (Table 1), 37.7% of the land in Kiryandongo is privately owned, 31.1 % customarily owned and 27. 9% communally owned. Most of the private land appears to be those bought by immigrants from the other districts. Public and leasehold ownership were observed to a very small extent. However, in Gulu district 93.3% of the land is under customary ownership where land is owned by a specific clan or lineage. These results agree with URI and ARLPI (2012) which reported that over 90% of land is owned under customary tenure. Other forms of ownership reported were public and communal, to a very small extent. The research team noted that the customary land tenure system is the major cause of land wrangles among the Acholi people which has resulted in many losses of life during the post war era and poses a threat to development.

Table 1. Household composition and land tenure system

 

 

Districts

 

Factor

Overall mean

Kiryandongo

Gulu

p Values

Children

5

5

6

0.15

Adult males

3

3

3

0.44

Adult females

3

3

3

0.62

Household size

10

10

11

0.17

Land tenure system

Communal (%)

15.7

27.9

3.3

 

Leasehold (%)

0.8

1.6

0

 

Private (%)

20.7

37.7

3.3

 

Public land (%)

0.8

1.6

0

 

Customary/Clan (%)

62

31.1

93.3

 

Farming activities and livestock kept

The data (Table 2) show that farmers in both study sites are engaged in mixed farming, growing both crops and livestock for food and income generation. Chickens are the predominant livestock kept, followed by cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. A few oxen are kept mainly for draft power. Ssewanyana et al (2006) reported that chickens are an integral part of rural livelihoods Kyarisiima (2004), observed that indigenous chickens can easily be kept by resource poor households because of their low input requirement. Our data agree with those findings.

The major farming activity in Kiryandongo is food crop production while in Gulu majority of the people practice livestock production. The difference in the farming activities reported in the two study sites stems from the fact that there has been more relative peace in Kiryandongo compared to Gulu. In Gulu people have been surviving more on food aid than from food production. The slightly higher level of livestock farming activity observed in Gulu is explained by the fact that government through NGOs have been implementing a livestock restocking program in the sub region.

Table 2. Farming activities and livestock kept

District

Kiryandongo

Gulu

Farming activity

Ranking index

Food crop

0.45

0.34

Livestock

0.35

0.48

Cash crop

0.21

0.18

Livestock species

Chicken

0.32

0.36

Cattle

0.28

0.21

Goats

0.24

0.33

Pigs

0.13

0.1

Pigs

0.01

0.01

Pigs

0.02

0

Flock composition and productivity

There were smaller flock sizes in Gulu than in Kiryandongo (Figure 1). The average flock composition for Kiryandongo district was three cocks, eight hens, eight pullets, six cockerels, and fourteen chicks and a total of 36 ▒ 3 birds per household. These numbers are within the 5–40 flock size range reported for Uganda flocks (Kyarisiima et al 2004); though lower than 3-113 reported by (Ssewanyana et al 2006). In Gulu on average each household owned two cocks, five hens, six cockerels, seven pullets, six cockerels, thirteen chicks and a total of 32▒2 birds per household. However it is generally observed that farmers keep fewer cocks in the flock compared to other chicken groups. This always keeps the cock hen ratio in check so as to ensure effective breeding. The differences in flock sizes between the two districts could be as a result of the civil strife that affected Gulu in the last twenty years and that the majority of the people are just recovering from the war episodes.

Figure 1.   Flock Composition

The study revealed that sexual maturity in local chickens is attained at approximately 6 months by both female and male birds (Table 3). These results are in contrast with those reported in studies in Eastern Uganda where females and males attain sexual maturity at different ages (Kugonza et al 2008). This could imply that the chicken eco-type in Eastern Uganda is different from those in our study area. The study also revealed a mean of 3.3 and 3.1 egg laying cycles per hen per year for Kiryandongo and Gulu respectively. These findings are in agreement with results from similar studies Tanzania (Guni 2013) where 3.3 cycles were reported. There was a significant difference (P<0.01) in the number of eggs laid per clutch for the two districts. In general the clutch size per hen ranged 8-20 eggs with a mean of 14 eggs per clutch. This mean value is higher than 11 eggs which were reported in Nigeria by Yakubu (2010) though he reported more eggs laying cycles (4) than those reported for this study. On average, 11-12 eggs are given to chicken for incubation. There was a wide variation in hatchability in this study varied widely between farmers with majority reporting 9-10 chicks (82-83%). This value collaborates with values (82.6%) reported in Ethiopia by Bushra (2012). Kitalyi (1998) attributes variation in hatchability to the time or season of the year, since hatchability of eggs using broody hens was highly affected by season of incubation. The average number of chicks weaned ranged between 60-70% per hen. Though an above average number of chicks survive up to weaning, few of the weaned chicks reach maturity due to mortality caused by diseases, predators and theft.

Table 3. Reproductive performance

District


Variable

Kiryandongo

Gulu

Overall Mean

P values

Sexual maturity for cocks (months)

6.12 ▒ 0.20

6.36▒0.12

6.25 ▒ 0.12

0.33

Sexual maturity for hens (months)

5.91 ▒ 0.22

6.28▒0.15

6.10 ▒ 0.13

0.18

Egg laying cycles per year

3.33 ▒ 0.12

3.10▒0.07

3.21 ▒ 0.07

0.10

Number of eggs per cycle

13.87 ▒ 0.34

12.27▒0.26

13.07 ▒ 0.22

0.00

Eggs given for incubation

10.57 ▒ 0.28

11.93▒0.29

11.25 ▒ 0.21

0.02

Chicks hatched per cycle

8.73 ▒ 0.32

9.83▒0.31

9.28 ▒ 0.22

0.02

Number of weaned chicks

5.80 ▒ 0.24

6.73▒0.28

6.27 ▒ 1.93

0.00

Feeds and feeding management

Majority of the respondents (92.6%) supplemented feeds to the scavenging indigenous chickens and only a few 7.4% left the birds to entirely depend on scavenging (Table 4). Supplementation with available feedstuffs is sometimes done by giving cereal grains and their by-products and household wastes generally in the morning or evening depending on their availability in the households. This situation reflects the fact that farmers realise that the birds do not get adequate feed from scavenging that is why majority of them offer supplementary feed. However supplementary feed is scattered on the ground by most of the farmers (65.2%) while the others use troughs for feed provision. These feeds are given twice a day (54%), once a day (33.9%) while the others (11.6) said that the feed is always available all the time. Majority of the farmers (95.9%) regularly provide drinking water to their chickens using basins (19%), container stuck in the ground (18.1), sauce pans (17.2%), plates (15.5%), cut jericans (13.8%), commercial water troughs (4.3%) and other small tins (3.4%). The water is often available to the chickens all the time. The fact that majority of the farmers offer drinking water to the indigenous chickens also reflects the degree of importance they attach to these birds. It also provides opportunities for other management practices such as provision of water soluble drugs for treatment and deworming.

Table 4. Feeding practice

 

 

 

Feeding method

Kiryandongo

(%HH)

Gulu

(%HH)

Average

 (% HH)

Total Scavenging

9.8

5

7.4

Scavenge with supplement

90.2

95

92.6

Position on feed mixing  

Yes

7.3

10.5

8.9

No

92.7

89.5

91.1

Mode of  feed provision

Feeds put in the troughs

38.2

31.6

34.8

Feeds scattered on the ground

61.8

68.4

65.2

Frequency of providing feeds

Once a day

50.9

17.5

33.9

Twice a day

38.2

70.2

54.5

Available all the time

10.9

12.3

11.6

% HH: Percentage of households


Table 5. Water provision



District



Kiryandongo (% HH)

Gulu (% HH)

Average (% HH)

Provision of drinking water

Yes


91.8

100

95.9

No


8.2

0

4.1

Drinking water containers used

Commercial trough


8.9

0

4.3

Broken pot


8.9

8.3

8.6

Sauce pan


23.2

11.7

17.2

Cut jerican


16.1

11.7

13.8

Plate


8.9

21.7

15.5

Basin


23.2

15

19

Small tin


3.6

3.3

3.4

Container stuck in the ground


7.1

28.3

18.1

Frequency of providing drinking water

Once a day


16.1

6.7

11.2

Twice a day


7.1

20

13.8

Available all the time


76.8

73.3

75

% HH: Percentage of households

Available feed stuffs

Farmers in both study sites mainly give energy-rich supplements to the indigenous free-range chickens. Majority of the farmers give maize grain, followed by millet grain and sorghum grain in Gulu especially. Generally few farmers provide protein supplements to the birds using fish meal in both Districts and simsim (sesame seed) used by also few respondents in Gulu. Scavenging birds therefore partially meet most of their protein requirements from the scavengeable feed resources such as worms and insects. Vitamins and mineral supplementation to local chickens is generally minimal among farmers in both study sites.

Table 6. Feedstuffs for chickens

 

Kiryandongo(n=61)

Gulu(n=60)

Total

Energy-rich

Maize grain

45

52

97


Maize Bran

15

8

23


Millet Grain

22

41

63


Sorghum Grain

4

46

50


Rice bran

2

10

12


Dry cassava

7

0

7


Broken maize

4

1

5


Others

5

0

5






Protein sources

Fish meal

8

7

15


Simsim

3

9

12


Cotton seed cake

3

0

3


Sunflower cake

2

0

2


Groundnuts

0

2

2


Insects

2

1

3


Soya meal

1

0

1

Feed calendar

The availability of the feed resources varied widely among households. Energy-rich feedstuffs are most available during dry season in Gulu (78.9%) and Kiryandongo (83.6%) (Table 7) This is not different from what was reported by Goromela et al (2007) in a study conducted in Tanzania. Farmers attributed this to the fact that during the dry season they have harvested grain in stock. However towards the end of the dry season and in the rainy season the relative availability of these resources for the purpose of feeding chickens declines. During the rainy season much of the grain is used for planting and home consumption. Energy is therefore a limiting factor at planting time. Therefore supplementation strategies should be designed to address this shortage. The few farmers that provide protein supplements depend majorly on market sources which are also affected by season though to a greater extent availability is determined by farmers’ ability to buy them. Non-conventional protein sources such maggots and termites have not been explored widely in Northern Uganda. These could offer cheaper source of proteins to chickens regularly.

Table 7. Feed availability calendar

District

               Kiryandongo

                      Gulu

Category

Dry season

Rainy season

All the time

Dry season

Rainy season

All the time

Energy-rich (%)

83.6

7.3

9.1

78.9

15.8

5.3

Protein-rich (%)

55.6

11.1

33.3

38.5

7.7

53.8

Chicken products and utilization

Eggs are mainly used for hatching in both study sites (Table 8). King’ori et al (2010) noted that indigenous chicken farmers mostly replace breeding stock through hatching eggs from the flock as it is in the current study. This ensures continuity of breeding stock. However, in Gulu it was observed that eggs are almost entirely used for hatching purposes leaving very few or none for home consumption. This could be attributed to the fact that culture bars women from eating these eggs. Eggs provide proteins needed for child growth hence farmers should utilize this resource. Chicken are mostly used for home consumption and for selling. The sale of chickens generates income to offset home expenses such as medical bills and school fees (Moreki et al 2010). Local chickens are also used in exchange for labour while others though few (20%) use them to perform cultural functions. In Kiryandongo majority of the farmers sell the products especially the live birds to middlemen who in turn re-sell them to the final consumers unlike in Gulu where majority of chicken sales are directly to the consumers. The presence of middle men in the market chain presents a risk of farmer exploitation since they buy the chickens at lower prices and sell them with a high profit margin. Chicken wastes are used as manure by some farmers 58.5% while the others 41.5% do not put the wastes from chicken houses to use in any way.

Table 8. Chicken products and utilization

Number of Respondents

Kiryandongo

Gulu

Total

n=61

n=60

Eggs

Home consumption

57

16

73


Hatching

61

59

120


Sell to get money

23

2

25


Exchange for labour

1

0

1

Chicken

Sell to get money

56

59

112


Home consumption

61

59

120


Exchange for labour

21

50

71

 

Cultural function

4

20

24


Conclusion


Recommendations


Acknowledgement

The authors acknowledge support from Regional Universities Forum for funding this research. We are also grateful for the farmers that willingly participated in this study.


References

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Received 14 September 2014; Accepted 16 October 2014; Published 3 November 2014

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