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Farmer advocates for Indigenous poultry farming

In a world where entrepreneurs are going for quick returns from exotic early-maturing layers and broilers, Mr. Brandon Omido from Emanda village, in Mungoma location in Vihiga division, has stuck to indigenous breeds.

Omido said that despite the fact that the indigenous chickens take longer to begin laying at 28 weeks as compared to 20 weeks for the exotic breeds, they have an advantage because of their natural genetic adaptability to the environment and resilience.

He asserted that indigenous birds have evolved over generations to withstand severe environmental conditions, making them resistant to diseases and adverse weather.

Omido stated that he is a staunch advocate for the rearing of indigenous birds because they are not only dual-purpose (for meat and eggs), but the products are also of high quality and free from the risks associated with biotechnology.

“My stock consists of the Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red breeds, with which I can lay 5–6 eggs per week, where a 24-egg crate goes for Sh 360. For the birds, I sell between Sh. 800 for a hen and Sh. 1,000 for a cockerel, respectively,” he said.

He has combined the free-range and cage systems of rearing the birds on a 12.5-metre by 25-metre portion of land.

“There is a laying area for the hens, and eggs are picked every evening; the hens that are ready for sitting on eggs are located in a specific area in the poultry house, while there is a free space where they mix with cocks for mating,” he said.

The entrepreneur is worried that with the rapidly rising commercial poultry farming industry, where hybrids and exotic breeds are dominating the market, traditional birds are on the verge of extinction.

The farmer explained that the indigenous chickens require less specialised care and are self-sufficient as they can forage in search of food on their own. “To cut down on the running cost, I formulate the feeds from locally available stuff such as dry maize, millet, and sorghum and crush them in a miller,” he said.

Traditional chickens offer superior meat quality and flavour, making them an appealing choice for health-conscious consumers. The local poultry breeds, he said, apart from being easily manageable, tend to have lower fat content and higher protein levels compared to the exotic ones.

He said the poultry value chain is highly viable in Vihiga County, where households own small pieces of land, as it just needs a little space to operate.

By Sammy Mwibanda

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