The poultry sub-sector in Uganda has been growing fast with an average rate 3.2% per year since 2012.This growth has provided great opportunities for both small and large-scale farmers, like people getting self-employed. People had built successful businesses within the country. By then, ready market for poultry products has gone up due to increased population. Chicken provides the cheapest, healthier protein source compared to other animal products. Therefore, many people in Uganda can be able to purchase or raise birds at their homes.
Where is COVID-19 putting our poultry sector in Uganda?
Not only Uganda, but also other countries like Brazil, the world’s second largest poultry producer was expecting significant growth in 2020 and 2021, building on its strong performance in 2019, according to forecasts from Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA). However, this could not happen due to break down of a pandemic COVID-19. The disease has affected chicken eggs prices all over the world.
Many hatcheries in Uganda are having chicks ready to be taken but no one willing to restock because prices of poultry products are dropping. Before the latest lock down, an egg tray cost as low as sh8,000. The situation was further made worse by Kenya suspension of export of Ugandan eggs. As the year ended however, the suspension had been lifted.
What to be done to improve the poultry sector in Uganda in 2022
- Let us integrate production and marketing. For example, in Brazil, the relationship between the main poultry slaughter companies and 180,000 poultry farmers is not restricted to purchase and supply. The poultry business is governed by the “integration system” through which companies provide farmers with chicks, animals feeds, and medicines in advance. In return, farmers have to trade ready poultry for slaughter exclusively with company that supplied them with raw materials and will be paid after production costs are discounted. The integrated system began to be implemented in Brazil in 1960s, inspired by similar practices existing in the United States. A farmer and the company signs a contract in order to begin the “integrated system”. Can this work in Uganda?
- Timed feeding of the broilers has been recommended for economic reasons. Here, the birds are fed a set amount of feed 4 times a day so they finish their meal and then held without feed for about one hour or less. This has two beneficial aspects. First it reduces the chance for the mechanical stimulation of feed intake. This is experienced by running the feeders throughout the day. Secondly, during these times without feed, birds are usually quiet, and this may improve feed utilization due to the reduced maintenance feed requirements.
- You need to control of feed wastage, apart from high consumption of feeds there are many other routes through which feed is wasted or lost without even getting into the bird. Feed wastage can be avoided through the following;
- Use feed troughs that are in good conditions which will avoid spillage of feeds.
- Adjust feed level in the feeders, over filling of the feeders should always be avoided, and feed should be maintained at certain levels to minimize losses.
- Beak trimming, long beaks give the birds the ability to play with the feed which cannot be consumed once, it reaches the floor and get mixed with the bedding materials, therefore, essential to alleviate much of this problem.
- Rodent control, rodent infestation of poultry farms is a common problem interfering with feed utilization. A 250g rat can eat its own weight in a day (so a rat can eat 90kg of feeds a year, imagine). This means a farm with a 50 rats, for example could simply loose tonnes of feeds each year, unless such a problem is strictly eliminated from the start.
- Mould growth should also be avoided to reduce on feed wastage and loss. This problem arises from the feeds that have not been appropriately processed. This is more in tropical regions like in Uganda where the hot, humid climate favors the growth of the Mould on feed. Use of anti-moulding agents, proper storage in vermin and rodent or wild birds proof stores.
- Use enzyme supplements like phytase, protease, amylase and xylanase to enhance feed utilization and reduce on feed cost. These enzymes ensure proper absorption of nutrients, make dietary proteins and increase feed energy more available for the birds.
- Disease and parasite control, the effects of the disease on feed utilisation should not be overlooked. It has been estimated that feed efficiency decreased by 25%,18% and 10% in birds infected with diseases like Gumboro, coccidiosis and salmonella respectively. Similar responses may also be expected with nutritional or parasitic diseases. Effective veterinary programmes should be considered in all these cases for better health, performance, and revenues.
By Chris Magezi, the Director at Champrisa International, distributors of Hendrix Poultry and Piggery feed products in Uganda