The debate on which one came first between the egg and hen rages on. That aside, poultry farming remains critical to sustaining the ever-rising demand of eggs in Kenya and beyond. As such, it is prudent to ensure farmers have correct information to raise chicken that produce eggs.
It is against this backdrop that two branches of Kenya Veterinary Association (KVA)- Kenya Pigs and Poultry Veterinary Association (KePPOVA) and Rift Valley branch celebrated World Egg Day. The World Egg Day is celebrated every second Friday of October and the theme for this year was "Eggs for a better life".
This year KePPOVA celebrated this day with a scientific conference and a farmers' field day in Nakuru County to drive conversations around the advances in poultry industry, discuss trends, tackle challenges and share solutions to the teething challenges facing this sector.
Speaking at the event, Dr Nicholas Muyale, KVA national chair noted that Kenyans need to increase their egg consumption.
Our neighbour Uganda, according to Dr Muyale, beats Kenya in terms of egg production. He attributed this to on-farm feed production in Uganda since they have plenty of raw materials. In Kenya, farmers rely heavily on commercial feeds from imported raw materials.
This makes price of eggs in Kenya high because production is hinged on feeds which account for 70 per cent of production costs.
New poultry feeds and feed technologies
He therefore called on farmers to embrace new feed technologies such as the black soldier fly which is a cheaper and readily available source of protein compared to soya, sunflower and cotton seed cakes.
Chris Webo, the project manager for Hatching Hope Kenya at Heifer International, said they are positioning smallholder farmers as key players within the value chain.
The internationally recommended consumption of eggs per person per year is 180. Kenya is trailing at 36 eggs per capita while Nigeria is leading in Africa at 69 per capita.
Farmers to source their stock from reputable breeders
To be able to do well in poultry farming, Dr Kevin Osore from Kenchic advised farmers to always source their stock from reputable breeders.
Dr Godfrey Wamai from Atlantis life sciences called on farmers to embrace proper vaccination regimes, improve hygiene and observe strict biosecurity measures such as quarantining sick birds and use of foot bath to keep diseases at bay.
Mary Kogi, a farmer from Njoro noted that the farmers field day was an eye opener. She learnt about the importance of mineral supplementation, types of feed, feed alternatives as well as marketing.
Zachariah Karugu, the chair of Nakuru Farmers Community-Based Organisation, said he keeps 400 layers, 500 broilers and 40 Kenbro which are improved Kienyeji chicken. His main concerns were the influx of eggs from Uganda flooding the market and exploitation by middlemen. Karugu noted that they are working with Kenchic to supply them with chicks at discounted prices.
[The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and the Resident Vet at FarmKenya]