Kiambu County farmer Ignatius Osoro looks at his free range chickens feeding. He uses aloe vera extracts to control diseases. The water in the blue crate in the photo contains the juice. Photo by Laban Robert.
After realising that free-range rearing of local chickens predisposed them to diseases and pests, Ignatius Osoro started including aloe vera extract in water to reduce the risk of losses.
The Kiambu County farmer weekly crashes the fleshy leaves of the aloe vera and includes the juice in the drinking water, which he has placed in clean equipment within the ‘grazing’ compound.
About a half a litre of the juice is added to five litres of water while the residue from the crashed material is included in the green vegetable feeds.
“Monthly expenditure on vaccination and treatment sometimes reached Sh1,000 in a month. But this has reduced to less than Sh200 over the same period. I believe the immunity of the chickens remains strong because of the ingredients of the concoction,” the Kamanga village farmer said.
Chickens on free-range feed on anything they come across provided it is edible. This not only predisposes the poultry to deadly bacteria but also humans.
Such bacteria include Escherichi coli, staphylococcus, Salmonella typhi, among others. These disease cause deaths of more than 50 per cent once they set in and can affect the humans in form of food poisoning if consumed.
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According to a Western Kenya study published in the journal of Livestock Research for Rural Development, active ingredients in aloe vera inhibit the growth and other adverse activities so the salmonella typhi, staphylococcus, Escherichia coli, among other disease causing microbes.
Staphylococcus and Escherichia are other common bacteria poisonous to humans, with research showing that unhygienic conditions to be contributing about 40 per cent germs to chicken meat. Besides reducing productivity in eggs, loss of stock after an acute attack leads to losses of life of the brood as well as humans
Although there are no specific statistics in Kenya, E. coli has been recorded to be claiming 5,500 people every year in England, according to the Mail Online.
Osoro has more than 40 chickens, but the stock sometimes rises to about 80 depending on the season.