Livestock farmers are a resilient lot. Thanks to them, people world over can enjoy nutritious livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs.
With a growing middle class, the demand for meat in Kenya has increased exponentially hence the need for more innovation solutions to meet this need.
It is against this background that Farm-Kenya, an initiative by Standard Media Group, organised a two-day pigs and poultry training on October 27 and 28 at the Horticultural Research Institute of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation in Thika.
The event was attended by various stakeholders in the livestock industry, including pig and chicken farmers from all over the country. Today I will share some of the topics that were addressed:
Breeds and breeding
For a farmer interested in pig rearing, the common breeds are Landrace, Large White, Duroc, Pietrain, Cambrough and Hampshire breeds. Pick a breed based on their disease resistance, productivity and adaptation to local environmental conditions. One can choose to start with pregnant gilts (maiden females) or gilts and boars (mature males) or piglets.
For poultry, one can decide to pursue indigenous, improved, broiler or layer poultry breeds. It is prudent to source your stock from a reliable source.
For pigs and poultry, a good shelter acts as a buffer against harsh weather conditions such as strong winds, rain and excessive sunlight. Poorly ventilated houses are often a precursor to respiratory diseases due to high accumulation of ammonia. Farmers need to use locally available materials to build houses for the pigs and chicken.
Dr John Mburu, a senior lecturer in Animal Science from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology noted that proper feeding is essential to ensure animals receive adequate nutrients for growth, maintenance, production, remain healthy and in good body condition.
Pigs and chicken, according to Dr Mburu must have a balanced diet on a daily basis as too little (or poor-quality feed) results in thin animals that cannot resist disease while giving too much feed is wasteful and does not make economic sense. Lack of essential nutrients will result in ill-health, failure to reach full production potential and sometimes death.
Some of the diseases of economic importance in pigs include African Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth Disease, Erysipelas and Mange. For poultry look out for New castle disease, Fowl pox, Infectious bronchitis, Avian influenza, Infectious coryza as well as coccidiosis and worms.
Effective hygiene practices, vaccination protocols and a working biosecurity plan helps keep diseases at bay. Records helps to control inbreeding, rationalise labour, plan for and manage the feeds, keep track on treatment regimens and assess if the venture is making a profit or loss.
To make more money, one can tap into value addition. This can be done by opening butcheries and restaurants where one can sell choma, chemsha, wet-fry, dry-fry and take aways.
[The writer is Resident Vet at FarmKenya, [email protected]]