Indigenous chicken flocks of Eastern Uganda: I. productivity, management and strategies for better performance
Kugonza, Donald R.
Kyarisiima, Connie C.
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A study was conducted to determine the productivity and management of indigenous chickens of Kumi district in Eastern Uganda. Eighty households were randomly selected to respond to a standard questionnaire. The average flock size per household was three cocks, six hens and four chicks. Sexual maturity is attained at 5.5 and 6.5 months among male and female chickens respectively, with age at first egg ranging between 5.5-7 months. Egg hatchability varied widely between farmers with an overall mean of 90%. Clutch sizes ranged between 4-19 eggs per clutch, with a mean of 13 eggs. Chickens were acquired through purchase (65.6%), gifts (26.3%), or in exchange for labour. Scavenging was the major feeding system, seasonally supplemented with cereal grain. The majority of the farmers (87.5%) provided birds with drinking water. Death of chicks was prevalent (73%) and was mainly attributed to Newcastle disease (70%), with most of the mortality being observed during the dry season (62%). Survival of chickens was significantly affected (P<0.001) by feeding level, and strongly correlated (r = 0.83) with the housing system. Housing and feeding had significant effects on duration between laying cycles (P<0.001), how chickens were acquired (P<0.01), and the uses to which the chickens were put (P<0.001). Chickens and eggs are mainly used to generate household income and for home consumption. In some households, chickens are exchanged for goats and subsequently, for cattle. Our findings indicate that the indigenous chicken is a major resource in Teso, Uganda. The performance of these indigenous chickens would significantly improve with better feeding, housing and health management. Chicken farmers should be empowered through training and provision of capital credit, the latter of which should be well informed by data on the chicken production cycle.