From hatching chicks to growing soybeans, know best practices

Friday July 03 2015
Fruit famr

Christine Korkel, 40, admires mangoes in one of the few fruit orchards in Turkana County run by Katilu Women Group. The group farms fruits for sale at Sh20 a piece and to help counter malnutrition, common in the area. SAMMY LUTTA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

I need help on the specifications to build a chicken house using locally available materials.

Assuming you want to construct a structure for deep litter system, consider the floor spacing, which should be 1m2 per four birds.

This will allow free movement of birds and proper distribution of the feeders and drinkers in the unit. Also consider perching space of 16cm and nest space for the communal laying boxes of 2m2 per 100 birds.

For lighting, ensure the roof has translucent sheets evenly spread out above the house to allow you to maximise on natural light to stimulate egg production.

As for hatched chicks, the same room may be used, however, a temporary brooder must be built using cardboards to make a circular ring with floor spacing of 1m2 per 25 chicks.

Sophie Miyumo,


Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


How do I use half-an-acre of waterlogged land? I have already prepared the land.

Paul Mwangi, Mois Bridge

Excess water in the crop root zone soil is injurious to the plant growth. Crop yields are drastically reduced in poorly drained soils, and, in cases of prolonged waterlogging, plants eventually die due to lack of oxygen in the root zone and may result in excess soil salinity, that is, the accumulation of salts in the plant root zone.

Waterlogged soils release increased amounts of nitrous oxide (N2O), a particularly damaging greenhouse gas.

Solving the problem

Drainage is the first thing to consider once the problem has been identified. Artificial drainage is essential in poorly drained agricultural fields to provide optimum air and salt environments in the root zone.

Drainage is regarded as an important water management practice, and as a component of efficient crop production system. So for you to solve the problem, you can dig trenches to drain the water from the farm as a better alternative of reclaiming the waterlogged piece of land.
Hezekiah Korir

Crops, Horticulture and Soils

Department, Egerton University.

I would like to know more about embryo transfer and the cost per cow. I am in Bomet County.

Embryo transfer is one of the modern methods in livestock breeding bio-technologies. Conventionally, it involves harvesting embryos from a donor cow and implanting them through artificial insemination to preferred recipients, also referred as surrogate mothers.

However, with recent developments in animal breeding and genetics, it is also possible to raise embryos in the laboratory which are latter transferred to the recipients. In either ways, a process of synchronising the recipient animals’ ovulation cycle is mandatory.

The advantage of this method over artificial insemination is that numerous embryos from preferred mother and sire can be developed at once and be implanted to surrogate mothers, therefore, having a uniform herd.

This process is intensive and requires thoroughly trained animal health experts with adequate experience. I would, therefore, request you to contact Director of Veterinary Services, Breeding Section at Kabete or your sub county veterinary officer for further guidance.

Generally, the cost per embryo will depend on the source. Externally sourced embryos may be cheap since they will only involve the cost of synchronisation of the recipient animals, cost of embryo and insemination.

However, the embryos may not adapt to your local environment since most of them are usually imported. On the other hand, conventional method may be slightly expensive but the embryos are more adaptive to the local environment.

Wangui, J. Chege,

Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University and Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project, Wajir County.


I want to start hatching and rearing kienyeji chicks. I need some training on incubator handling and rearing of young chicks, feed ratios, changing of feeds, vaccination, and favourable structures.

Felix Bett

Artificial incubators regulate the temperature and humidity automatically once they have been set. From day 1 to 18, the temperature should be set at 37.80c and humidity at 60 to 65 per cent, then three days prior to hatching, adjust the temperature to 37.50c and humidity to 70 to 75 per cent.

Upon hatching of chicks, transfer them to deep litter brooder (use wood shavings as litter material and cardboard to make a circular brooder) and provide supplemental heat using either infra-red bulbs or stove hover for four weeks.

During the first week, provide chick formula (to boost immunity), glucose (for energy) and liquid paraffin (to clear their digestive system).

Feed chick mash for eight weeks at the rate of 35 to 75g/chick/day increasing the amount gradually. Vaccinate the birds against New Castle and Gumburo on day seven and 21, respectively.

Sophie Miyumo,

Department of Animal Sciences,

Egerton University.


My name is Duncan Ndegwa. I want to start soya beans farming in Tulaga, Nyandarua County and I will be grateful to know the following information:

i) Types of soya beans suitable in my area.

There are different varieties available from various institutions, however, the most common include: Nyala (Seed co. Zimbabwe), Hill, Black Hawk, EAI 3600 and Gazelle (KALRO-Njoro), TG ×1740-2F (IITA) and TG ×1895-33F (IITA).

ii) Where can I get certified seeds and at what price?

To get certified seeds is a great challenge due to unwillingness of many seed companies to invest in the sector. However, Western Seed Company has some certified seeds.

iii) How do I manage the crop?

In general, you have to watch out for pests such as sucking bug, bean fly, leaf miner and silver leaf white fly. You also need to manage diseases such as Asian soya bean rust, bacterial pustule, seedling blight root and stem rot, leaf spots, dwarf diseases, yellow mosaic and other varieties of mosaic diseases.

Some of the diseases are seed transmitted, therefore, use seeds that are produced away from the infection source. Do not plant seeds obtained from mosaic-affected plants. Rouge (uproot and destroy) symptomatic plants.

This can reduce the incidence of insect-transmitted viruses. Eradicate the weeds and voluntary plants near the soybean farms. Treat seeds with systemic insecticides and apply one or two foliar sprays to reduce the insect vector activity during pre-flowering stage (most vulnerable to virus infections) of the plant.

In addition, plant in a good seedbed and avoid poorly drained or compacted soil. Plant seeds treated with fungicides, rotate crops with maize or any other cereal to prevent the increase in inoculum levels in a field and use of a foliar fungicide when the infection is severe.

iv) How to market the produce.

The best way is to join a farmers’ organisation that grows the crop to have a greater bargaining power. Second, there is increased demand for the crop by companies that produce soya milk and meat.

Muriuki Ruth Wangari,

Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.