Modern poultry-keeping flourishes in African villages
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CTA. 1991. Modern poultry-keeping flourishes in African villages. Spore 33. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Some African countries have forbidden the import of frozen European chickens, and this could trigger the revival of a modernized local poultry industry. But the poultry fanners who wish to take advantage of this will have to become more familiar...
Some African countries have forbidden the import of frozen European chickens, and this could trigger the revival of a modernized local poultry industry. But the poultry fanners who wish to take advantage of this will have to become more familiar with the technologies involved. When deep-frozen European chickens first arrived in some African towns about ten years ago, the public grew accustomed to a plentiful supply of cheap meat. These birds were much cheaper than local ones because they and their offal benefited, directly or indirectly, from export subsidies. They created a large market among those who could not afford the traditionally-reared chickens. However, times have changed for some countries such as Cameroon, Togo and Cote d'Ivoire, which have decided to put a stop to these imports which, although low-cost, were proving too expensive in foreign exchange and at the same time preventing any intensive development of poultry-keeping locally. At that time there were many business failures because of the stiff competition from imports. Poultry houses erected near urban centres in Niger, Cote d'Ivoire and the Congo had to close down or be converted for other use. A new era Now the future looks more promising for local intensive poultry enterprises, protected as they are from competition. In general, poultry-rearing in Africa has recently risen dramatically; between 1980 and 1988 production of all categories has increased by more than two-thirds and by 1988 stood at more than two million tonnes per year. This has been due to progressive urbanization and the resulting change in dietary habits, a phenomenon unparalleled except in Asia. Eighty per cent of the demand from the cities is met now by small-scale poultry keepers with free-range birds. Birds produced on an industrial scale account for the rest. Overcoming the difficulties Logically the consumers of frozen chic kens, known ironically as 'mortuary chic kens', should go back to locally-produced birds, but this will happen only if they can be sold at competitive prices. This presents the local industry with a difficult challenge given the constraints on tropical aviculture. Poultry-rearing today is extremely technical. Birds live in intensive conditions; they are from selected, high-performance stock; and are nourished on industrially-produced complete feed. However, intensive methods used in temperate countries are not appropriate here, as the combination of heat and humidity create the right environment for fungi and bacteria which cause disease and lead to high mortality. Cool, ventilated buildings must be designed and built, and the density of birds per square metre must be reduced. Poultry sheds must have drinking water available and a regular electricity supply for forced ventilation: power cuts are fatal for chicks brought in from Europe by air. Heat can also depress the birds' appetites and their feed must be highly concentrated but small in volume to promote rapid growth. Prophylactic vaccines and medicines against tropical and imported diseases are expensive and often have to be imported. Village poultry-keeping needs encouragement Modern poultry-farming in Africa is still heavily dependent on imported products: medicine, day-old chicks and complete food. But there is no necessity for this state of affairs. New hatcheries mean chicks can be hatched out locally much more cheaply. In Niger the Goudel poultry centre will soon be able to supply the whole country. Nutritional supplements to enrich locally-produced feed may soon be the sole import. Therefore, the future of village poultry looks promising, despite some difficulties that remain to be overcome. Villages already produce more than three-quarters of the poultry meat consumed and have the technical and economic potential to achieve fuller development.
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