Farmers in Laikipia County are reaping benefits from engaging in rearing of indigenous chicken at the encouragement of the county government.
Thomas Chirchir and Joseph Kemei, members of local community groups, are beneficiaries of the Household Economic Empowerment Programme (Heep), a project of the Laikipia county government to address food shortages, unemployment and reduce the effects of climate change.
It provides farmers with indigenous chicken, rabbits, goats and cattle to help sustain their lives. Many small-scale farmers have benefited from the project and have been able to launch their own agribusinesses.
Chirchir’s success story started when he visited the Laikipia county governor, Joshua Irungu’s home and took an interest in chicken rearing.
This was after the governor had taken his group members on a tour of farm and explained the advantages of rearing indigenous chicken.
Chirchir and Kemei are members of the Tuigoin Kilimo Biashara Group, formed earlier to promote vegetable farming but whose projects were on hold due to inadequate water during recent droughts.
Chirchir feeds the chicken with roughly grounded maize, wheat and small fish (daaga). Andrew Kigotho, a member of another farmer’s group called Salima Self-Help Group, is also another benefactor of the Heep project.
The county government helped him buy and transport the chicken and also provided the group with incubators for the eggs. They were trained on how to use the incubators but lack of electricity in most households forces them to keep the incubators in the only homestead with power.
According to experts from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro), correct formulation is important to ensure that poultry get the minerals, proteins and energy requirement they need and not an excessive amount which only leads to losses to the farmer.
The experts sought to demonstrate how to carefully measure and formulate the poultry feeds to avoid cases of deficiency resulting in low production through a field day.
They also advise farmers to prevent diseases through vaccination since viruses cause many poultry diseases, some without a cure. They also recommend regular cleaning of the chicken pens to keep the parasites and diseases at bay.
Farmers field days are considered by the county government as important will be organised in order to train and educate farmers on chicken rearing, that is, the type of nutrients to use and how to formulate feeds correctly.