Local chicken farming in Uganda has become a popular activity due to the increased market for the products that are meat production and eggs. The local breeds in Uganda which are also known as village chickens are considered to be extremely organic as compared to the other breeds and that is why there is a high demand on the market for them.
Local chicken rearing is not for everyone because it needs a lot of patience and it can either bring you a lot of profits or losses but this depends on the extra care that you give to them. There are about four local breeds in Uganda and these are Sasso, Kuroiler, Rainbow rooster and Kari from Kenya. From way past, local chicken has been reared on a free range system but of late, there are methods that have been used to modernize the farming of local chicken.
Methods of rearing local chicken
Free range system
Free range system is where the chicken is not put in an enclosed area with restrictions and they move around the area searching for their own food. There are simple structures that are set up for when they come back in the evening for the night.
Pastured poultry system
Pastured poultry system is where the chicken birds are kept in temporary housing and they are moved from one place to the next every after a few days.
This is normally used for large commercial local chicken rearing farms and it is where the birds are fully enclosed in a unit. In this system the birds are entirely dependent on the owner for food and water and although it is expensive to care for the birds, the production is high. Under the intensive system, there are three types of rearing chicken and these include:
The slatted floor system
Under this system, the chicken birds have zero or no contact with feces and they can easily move around and wooden or wire slates are used in this system.
Deep litter system
The deep litter system is where litters of straw, wood shavings and any other material available are used to cover the floor. The chicken birds are fully enclosed in this system and it is known to be the best system for farmers who are rearing local chicken for both the eggs and meat production.
Battery cage system
The battery cage system is best used for laying chicken birds. The birds are kept in their cages throughout the time of laying eggs. The initial capital for the battery cage system is high but in the end the productivity especially when you have a market for the eggs.
Semi intensive system
Semi intensive system is where the chicken birds are kept using both the intensive and extensive systems. This is where the bird species are restricted to specific areas in a shelter during the day and are provided with both food and water. And then at night, they get to sleep in different structures.
Feeding local chicken
When rearing indigenous chicken, many farmers who are doing on a small scale always let the chicken look for their own food in a free range system but if you are planning on rearing them for commercial purposes then you are going to need to add more supplementary foods like chicken leftovers, vegetables like sukuma, fruits and worms if possible. You need to also make sure that you provide the chickens with enough water and the chicken feeders should be cleaned and dry in order to avoid spread of diseases.
These are given to chicks that have just hatched. They have high protein content and it helps in the proper development of the chicks.
These are normally given to local chicken that is reared for the eggs. The birds are given the grower feed until they are 14 weeks and then the layer marsh is introduced to increase the protein content.
Housing for local chicken
When you decide to start rearing local chicken, you need to think about the housing for the chicken. The more comfortable your birds are, the more productive they become.
The house should have enough lighting since it affects the growth of the birds.
The chicken house should not be overcrowded in order to reduce spread of diseases
Make sure that the chicken house has limited access by a few people to minimize diseases.
The chicken house should be well ventilated so that the birds get clean fresh air.
The chicken house should be easy to clean.
What you should know about rearing local chicken
Provide food and water as much as possible.
Vaccinate the chicken against all the diseases especially the Newcastle disease, deworming, bronchitis and fowl typhoid.
Make sure the chicken do not have lice and mites
When buying local chicken go for those that are between 2 to 3 months.
Local chicken for the meat
Almost the whole population in Uganda rears local chicken for sale that is their meat. Once the eggs hatch the chicks are raised till they are ready to be sold in the several markets across the country. The first step into rearing local chicken is the hatching process. After the hen has laid its eggs, you need to make a good selection of the eggs that will be hatched but as you make the selection, you should not be seen by the hen as it might not hatch them in the long run. Hatching can either be done using an incubator or the natural way of using the hen. Below is what you should know about the hatching process.
Egg selection, this is the first thing that is done after laying of eggs especially if you are using an incubator. Make sure that the eggs are comfortable for the chicken to sit on and they shouldn’t be too small or oval if they are being hatched by the hen.
While using an incubator, make sure that you use the eggs that were laid at least 14 days before and you should keep on turning them regularly so that there is proper production of the embryo.
The rooms that are to be used for hatching should be well ventilated and the humidity should be at least favorable. You need to keep on checking to make sure that the nest is clean and has no pests and the hen should have enough food and water during this period.
Once the hatching is done, you need to make sure that you vaccinate the chicks so that you avoid diseases like the Newcastle disease. The chicks are meant to be fed with soft food like crushed maize husks and they should have enough water.
Local chicken for the eggs
Local eggs currently have a high market demand since they are rare and although they are expensive, they are a good addition to everyone’s diet. Most Ugandans rear local chicken for their meat but for those that rarely buy local chicken for the eggs, below is what you should know before you venture out in this direction.
The eggs need to be kept in a cool dry place to avoid rotting and the pointed parts need to be placed while facing upwards.
The eggs should be collected on a daily basis especially in the morning.
Advantages of rearing local chicken
Local chicken can be reared from anywhere and need less supervision as compared to the exotic type.
They also have a high tolerance to diseases and all types of weather experienced within the country.
Feeding of the local chicken becomes easy since most of them are reared using the free range system.
The chicken droppings from the chicken are used for manure.
Both the chicken meat and eggs from the local breed have a high market across the country.
The initial startup capital for rearing local chicken is a bit on the low end.
Disadvantages of rearing local chicken
They are mostly kept for home consumption and not commercial purposes.
They have an extremely low growth rate which does not favor the chicken market in the country.
They provide less meat and their eggs are relatively small.