Poultry farmers in Kiambu County have been able to reduce the death of their chicks by half following training by the county government on how to take care of week old chicks.
According to the latest research by a Korean firm, farmers lose up to 50 per cent of their chicks as a result of just stocking the birds without seeking professional guidance and also not vaccinating the hatched chicks as required, since none vaccination of chicks as required leads to high mortality.
“When I first started chicken farming I bought a day old chick from a broker and I thought I would easily just pick up my farming but six months later on almost half of my clutch died which was quite unfortunate for me. Luckily, in 2016, Korea Programme on International Agriculture came in to offer free training on how to care for the day-old chicks,” said Simon Maina a chicken farmer in Kiambu.
According to Dr. Kim Keejong, a Lead Researcher in poultry and County Director for the Korea Programme on International Agriculture (KOPIA), “Majority of farmers buy chicks and do not follow the correct procedure in taking care of their chicks such as vaccination, the correct feed and how to construct a brood.”
“Our vaccination programme which starts from day one all the way to the 16th weeks where de-worming of the chicks is done and it helps increase their survival rate,” said Dr. Kim.
Simon indicates that after training he was able to increases his clutch from 6-23, this was after he bought day-old chicks from KOPIA who selects against day-old chicks that have poor genes such as congenital loco and congenital tremors will cause death of chicks.
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Key steps to follow in taking care of young chicks
Proper hydration and temperature of the chicks: the body of a day-old chick is made up of 70% of water. It is important to keep them well hydrated and also maintain the perfect temperature which is 95 degrees week one, week two is 90, week three is 85. Each week temperature declines by five degrees until chicks are ready to live outside.
Feeding of the chicks: For the first day you would give the chicks water with only probiotics, after they have rehydrated, add a bit of sugar in the water. Use 1 tablespoon sugar or 2 per quart of water. Take note not to use honey in place of sugar.
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Bedding: Don’t use newspapers to line the bottom of your brooder. One may use paper towels or a textured vinyl shelf liner that is easy to clean. The texture gives a non-slip surface which prevents spreading of the chicks legs in chicks. Once you decide to move the chicks to a bigger space, one ought to use wood shavings and then to hay as they get older.
It is important to note cleanliness is important for the chicks to help avoid suffocation as a result of poor cleanliness and ventilation.
With Simon following the steps above he indicates that his now adult chicken produces 200-250 eggs per year and this has really motivated him from a mere 30-50 eggs per year.
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The free training which the county has been offering in partnership with the Korea Programme on International Agriculture (KOPIA) will be spread to other counties, Kiambu being a pilot project.
Korean Ambassador to Kenya Joonkook Hwang said “Korea will continue to partner with Kenya in the transfer of farming technology to improve the livelihood of the small scale farmers. The project will be replicated to other counties in the country, targeting the youth and attracting them to venture into commercial agriculture in a bid to also give them economic freedom and not just to depend on employment.”