Many backyard poultry farmers are resorting to mixing their own feeds. This is meant to help them cut costs and avoid being cheated by unscrupulous dealers who use substandard ingredients.
Francis Kavuma, a backyard poultry farmer in Namulonge, has been mixing feeds for his chicken for years and has no regrets.
According to Kavuma, chicken, like any other domestic animals, need to be given the right feeds in the right amounts if they are to be productive.
According to Kavuma, there are many benefits poultry farmers stand to gain by mixing their own feeds.
“I am now very sure about the quality of feeds I give my chicken. They contain all the right amounts of nutrients needed by the chicken for healthy growth. Besides, home mixed feeds are cheaper.”
Kavuma adds that quality feeds also translate into faster growth in case of broilers and more eggs for layers.
Since he started mixing his own feeds, his 300 birds have increased their output from five to eight trays a day, which is of an 80% performance. The size of the eggs has also increased.
Besides, his expenditure on feeds has gone down.
Procedure and expert advice
Besides maize bran, which is the main ingredient in poultry feeds, Kavuma adds cotton and sunflower seed cake, premix, fish (mukene) bones, shells, salt and premix.
Heny Lawrence Taabu, an animal nutritionist at the National Livestock Resource Research Institution, says many poultry farmers have resorted to mixing their feeds after realising that most feed dealers are only interested in maximising profits often at the farmer’s expense.
“Some unscrupulous dealers add sand, saw dust, crashed maize cobs, and other substances, with little or no nutritional value in order to increase the weight and volume to their feeds. Others do not put the recommended amount of ingredients such as fish. This leads to slow or stunted growth, and a drastic drop in egg laying,” Taabu reveals.
He, however, advises farmers planning to start mixing feeds to get the mixing formula right from the start in order to avoid costly mistakes.
The farmers should also know the nutritional needs of their birds at the different stages of growth. This will help in determining which ingredients to use and in what amounts.
This information, according to Taabu, can be got from animal nutritionists or fellow farmers, who have undergone training in animal nutrition, and have been successfully mixing their own feeds.
Taabu advises farmers to take their feed ingredients to the nearest livestock research institution to establish their quality.