Kenyan poultry farmers are among the most affected in Africa by the fatal coccidiosis chicken disease, with only Nigerian and Ghanian farmers more effected, according to findings published in African Journal of Ethnobiology. In Kenya, 48 per cent of chicken have at one time suffered from coccidiosis,
while 52 per cent of chicken mortality in Ghana and 80 per cent in Nigeria is attributed to coccidiosis.
Globally, the disease leads to 51.38 per cent of overall chicken deaths.
Additional research showed that Western Kenya, where chicken is considered a local delicacy, has the highest prevalence of the disease standing at 78 per cent of all the chicken deaths in the country.
“The disease is perhaps the most common in the country, affecting broilers and even indigenous chickens. Rural farmers only notice the problem once their chickens start dropping dead after a spell of low production”, observed Dr Maina Chege, a Nyeri-based veterinary officer.
Coccidiosis is caused by coccidia protozoa and is characterised by diarrhoea, decreased feed consumption, rough feathers, brownish to bloody mucus in faeces, as well as reduced growth and egg production.
“Under poor poultry rearing systems, mortality can exceed 60 per cent, a huge loss for farmers across the country. Signs of an outbreak include the birds becoming pale and droopy and they tend to huddle
together as if they are cold. Also feed consumption drops dramatically. Farmers should take quick steps at this point to avert deaths”, said Dr Chege.
In most African countries, 70 per cent of the poultry production and 20 per cent of the animal protein intake come from indigenous chickens.
In rural Kenya, almost every household has some chickens, providing vital protein through eggs and meat. Indigenous chickens also provide a quick source of money in case of emergencies, when they can be sold fast in rural markets.
Chickens also provide guano - a form of farmyard manure needed in improving soil fertility and food production.
However, diseases such as coccidiosis can hamper progress in poultry production from free range systems to more sophisticated battery cage systems.
Written by Bob Koigi for African Laughter
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