Chicks, after hatching, may take longer than expected to start feeding on their own. But many small-scale farmers who have heard of liquid paraffin are 'vaccinating' day-old chicks against unspecified diseases, increasing the birds' appetite in the process.
Immediately after hatching, Ian Mutwiri, a farmer, says it is recommended that chicks are given liquid paraffin (not the petroleum-based paraffin also referred to as kerosene).
Mutwiri, who has been breeding free-range chicks for sale for years, says giving them this highly refined liquid lubricates their food pathway.
This increases the chances of survival given that he breeds at least 1,500 after every nine days.
“The first thing I offer the chick after hatching is the liquid paraffin. It helps in clearing the throat in preparation for feed ingestion. Because the oils is fine and smooth, it soften the the throat,” he said.
This magic oil, he says, moves down the digestive system, clearing the way for processes feeds until they drop as waste.
“Over the years, I have learned that since the digestive system is still under developed, the oil reduces chances of constipation and if there is any unprocessed feed, it will softly be driven out. Chicks are like young children who should have no stress in eating or excretion,” he said.
In administering, the oil is poured on drinking water. Since water is denser, the oil will form a layer, which the chicks will pick at they drink.
Liquid paraffin is also used as a cosmetic product by mostly women on hair or softening rough skin.
It is available in cosmetic shops and agrovets at various prices according to quantity.
For instance, one can get 100ml bottle between Sh100 and Sh120.
He warned that kerosene may be counter productive if given to the chicks.
This liquid is also used to suffocate pests like mice, which burrow into the skin of chicken, more-so on the crown, feet and around the eyes.
“The pests make infested parts to be scaly-especially legs. Applying the oil and other petroleum jellies suffocates the parasites to death by cutting oxygen supply,” Mutwiri said.
As a practice, a farmer can increase the survival rates of chicks by giving them glucose and chick formula, as well as vaccination.