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Feedback: Rearing layer chicks to maturity

Wednesday July 10 2019

Poultry chicks feeding.

Poultry chicks feeding. Feeding layers the right feed ensures that they grow and produce well. The feed should be of high quality to meet their energy requirements. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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FEEDING LAYERS, FROM CHICKS TO MATURITY

I have a flock of 300 layers and they’re four months old. They’ve done so well up to now. I wanted to know when I can start feeding them layers mash.

Julius Justin

Feeding layers the right feed ensures that they grow and produce well. The feed should be of high quality to meet their energy requirements.

From day-old chicks to eight weeks old, we give them chick mash, from eight weeks to 17 weeks, they are fed on growers mash, and thereafter offer them layers mash. Whenever you are changing feed, do it gradually.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal sciences, Egerton University.

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WHAT AVOCADOS YIELD IN 10 YEARS

I want to start growing avocados. What should I expect in terms of yields?

Bernard

Avocado trees produce one or two million flowers in a single flowering period, although only about 200-300 fruits mature. You have to know that the yield of an avocado tree increases with age as shown below.

1st and 2nd years — growth
3rd year — 200-250 fruits per tree
5th year — 800 fruits per tree
6th year — 1,000 fruits/tree
7th year — 1,100 fruits/tree
8th year — >1,300 fruits/tree
9th year — >1,500 fruits/tree
10th year — more than 1,750 fruits per tree.

Note that Hass avocado should be spaced at 5m by 5m to give 150 trees per acre.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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I NEED KUROILER, KENBROW CHICKS

I am looking for original Kuroiler and Kenbrow chicks and also fingerlings.

Kate, Kieni West

Keeping chickens ensures that we get eggs and meat. They are easy to manage, feed less and require little space and minimal capital to start.

There are several chicks outlets in major towns like Nyeri. Kindly ask at any agrovet.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal sciences, Egerton University.

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GROWING DATES

I want to know how to plant dates. I am a farmer in Makueni.

Mwikali Mutune

There are two methods of growing dates from seeds. The first is to obtain date seeds from a ripe fruit and wash them to remove fruit pulp.

Soak the seeds in water for 24 or 48 hours then remove and plant with the rough side facing down in a small pot and water lightly.

Avoid overwatering as this will encourage growth of moulds. The second method is to obtain date seeds from a ripe fruit and wash to remove any fruit pulp.

Soak the seeds in water for 48 hours to soften the coat and prepare it for germination. Throw any seeds that float in the water and use the ones that sink.

Remove the seeds from the water and place two in a wet paper towel (wetted with water) and fold the paper towel to cover them.

Place the paper towel in a plastic bag, seal it and keep it in a warm (21-24°C) dark place for 6-8 weeks. Keep on checking the seeds for growth progress or mould and change the wet paper towel.

Small roots will emerge after two to four weeks and the seeds can now be transferred into a small pot. When the seedling outgrows the pot, you can transplant it to the field.

Remember that date palms are dioecious (have male and female plants). Only the female produces fruits while the male plants are for pollinating the females.

Males produce bigger flowers than females. Pollination on commercial farms can be done by collecting pollen into plastic containers and then transferring it to the female plants.

For small-scale production, farmers depend on wind pollination because the pollen grains are small and can be carried by wind to the female plants.

Propagation of dates from seeds may not produce true to type seedlings (small and of low quality compared to the mother plant) and also about half of the seeds that germinate may be females.

Vegetative propagation is thus preferred. Kutch Kibwezi Farm is a commercial enterprise that grows dates from suckers which are obtained from mature palm plants and this ensures propagation of true to type female plants.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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POTATO SEEDS

Where can I get potato seeds?

Omys M. Riokey, Nairobi

You can get the seeds from Agrico East Africa in Nairobi. Please contact them on 0722206179 or [email protected]

Potato seeds are also available at Kalro Tigoni (Kiambu) and their contact is 0712456653 or 0733834675 or [email protected]

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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I WANT TO GROW SUNFLOWER IN MIGORI

Where can I get the best sunflower seeds for planting in Migori County. Do we have specific varieties suitable for planting in the county or areas with similar weather conditions?

Benjamin Amwayi, Nairobi

Sunflower performs better in warm to hot climates, therefore, it will do well in Migori. Varieties like Sunbeam, Mammoth, Autumn Beauty, Teddy Bear and Kenya Fedha will do well in Migori. Please visit the nearest agrovet to purchase the seeds.

Seeds are from different companies in Kenya including Kenya Seed Company and Western Seed Company.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University

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WHERE CAN I GET GINGER RHIZOMES?

I am a farmer in Embu and I am looking for ginger seeds because I have a ready market.

Kimani

Ginger is propagated from rhizomes that can be obtained from the fresh produce market. It does well in fertile, well-drained loam soils, thus it will do well in the area.

Temperature is critical in any crop production, and so it is with ginger. The crop is sensitive to extreme temperatures, with extreme lows and frost conditions inducing bud dormancy and thus poor growth.

Due to the long growth period (7 — 9 months), the crop is likely to suffer some moisture stress and irrigation will be inevitable.

Sylvans Ochola,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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CERTIFIED CHIA SEEDS

Kindly let me know how I can purchase certified chia seeds for commercial cultivation purposes.
Gichuki

You can get organic certified seeds from Chia Seeds Kenya, contact them through 0721485709 or 0721173886.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University

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STRAWBERRY FARMER

I am from Nyamira County and I am requesting for the contact of any farmer who grows strawberry and passion fruits from the region.

Dennis Motari

Agriculture has been devolved. Kindly visit the Ministry of Agriculture offices in Nyamira County and you will be assisted.

You can also visit KALRO Kisii and they can help you locate a farmer who grows strawberry and passion fruits.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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YES RUST DISEASE AFFECTS GARLIC

My name is Mary Buluku, a farmer in Narok. I read a Seeds of Gold article online titled: Here’s how to ensure bumper melon, potato harvest.

I would like to inquire about thorn melon and garlic farming. What chemicals can one spray on thorn melon to avoid weeds?

And can garlic get rust? Kindly advise as this is my first time to plant the two crops.

Mary Buluku

Thorn melon is a fruit that belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae together with watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, courgettes and butternuts.

It is commonly known as kiwano melon, jelly melon, horned melon or African horned melon/cucumber. The crop does well at an altitude of 210-1,800m above sea level, well-drained and fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5 and performs better in warm to hot climates.

Thorn melon is propagated using seeds. A ripe fruit is selected, the seeds and the pulp are scooped out and then allowed to ferment in a plastic container for one to three days.

The seeds are then washed thoroughly and dried in a shade, after which they are planted. Three to four seeds are planted per hole and later thinned to one seed.

Planting should be done near a fence because thorn melon is a climbing plant or training can be done. It can also be planted in a greenhouse but it has to be trained/trellised using poles and strings/wires.

Spacing is 60cm by 60cm but 1m by 1m may also be used. Compost manure or organic fertilisers are used during planting.

At planting, NPK (17:17:17) is used and three weeks after germination, top dressing is done using muriate of potash for good fruit quality.

Irrigation depends on the weather conditions but the fruit requires a lot of water during the flowering stage. Weeding should be done as weeds compete with the crop for nutrients and water.

According to Greenlife Crop Protection Africa, Clampdown 480SL 200ml/20l, a non-selective herbicide which kills all types of weeds can be used to control them.

The fruits mature in three to four months. The stems die back but the fruits continue ripening. A ripe fruit is bright yellow in colour and has a shelf-life of six months.

Garlic belongs to the family Alliaceae together with onions, leeks, chives and shallots. It does well in areas with an altitude of 500-2,000m above sea level.

The best temperature for garlic production is 12-240C. Very high temperatures, humidity and rainfall interfere with garlic production.

If grown under irrigation, garlic requires water during the early stages of growth. The soils should be fertile, well-drained and light.

Avoid heavy clay soils as they interfere with bulb development. The soil pH should be between 5.5 and 6.8. Garlic is propagated vegetatively from cloves at a spacing of 30cm between rows and 15cm within the rows.

It responds well to application of well-decomposed manure before planting. Application of CAN and NPK 17:17:17 will help to boost the yield.

Yes, rust is a common disease of garlic and the symptoms include appearance of yellow blisters on the leaves. Rust can be controlled by spraying with Folicur as soon as the symptoms are observed.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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ANIMAL FEEDS STORAGE

I have two questions. First, is there any other method of storing feeds except silage or hay? Second, what are best fish feeds in the market?

Musembi

Silage and hay are methods of conserving feeds. This means that since most of agriculture in Kenya is rain-fed, when we have excess feeds during the rainy season, we can keep some to be used during the dry period. The conservation methods prolong the life of feeds without losing out on the quality.

Silage, standing hay, loose hay, and baled hay are common methods. Storing depends on what type of feed and size of store you have.

For fish feeds, my advice is go for products from reputable companies or if you are in a group of fish farmers, you can afford to buy feed ingredients and look for an animal nutritionist to come up with your own formula to make the feeds.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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MY TOMATOES ARE DROPPING LEAVES

I am a farmer based in Kitale with an acre of tomatoes. When they werhe second time they are showing this strange disease. What is the problem and how do I prevent it?

Stephen Kebabe

This could be late blight, a very serious disease of tomatoes, potatoes and other members of the Solanaceae family.

Blight is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora infestans and is favoured by high humidity, cool and wet conditions.

The disease is characterised by rapid drying of leaves. It seems that the tomatoes were affected a long time ago but you did not take curative measures.

Once the tomatoes have been affected by blight, it is very difficult to cure. To control late blight, practice crop rotation, use preventive fungicides (like Rindomil, Mistress), maintain field hygiene by weeding since some weeds harbour pathogens and use clean seeds.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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I WANT TO FARM HERBS

I am interested in growing herbs in Murang’a County. Who do I contact for advice?

Peter Gachanja

There are many herbs which you can grow including basil, coriander, dill, mint, rosemary, sage, fennel, parsley, celery, thyme, oregano and lemon grass.

Growing of herbs is a profitable venture because you can sell them locally or export. Please contact me on [email protected] for more information.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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STRAWBERRY SEEDLINGS

I am interested in strawberry farming. Kindly assist me in sourcing seeds from a farmer in Murang’a who grows the plants.

Stephen Mburu (Kigumo)

Try the Strawberry Farm on 0723701237.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.

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DOS AND DON’TS OF PLANTING SUNFLOWER

I’m farming in Gem and Bondo in Siaya County on approximately eight acres and I would like to start planting sunflower.

Can you supply me with good seeds? And what are the dos and don’ts of planting sunflower?

Elizabeth Horlemann

Sunflower does well in warm to hot climates. It requires soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5. Sunflower seeds are available from different companies, thus, visit an agrovet shop near you to purchase the seeds.

Varieties like Sunbeam, Mammoth, Autumn Beauty, Teddy Bear and Kenya Fedha are suitable for growing in Siaya.

These varieties mature in 3-4 months. Prepare the land to a fine tilth and then make rows at a spacing of two-and-half feet from one row to the next.

Apply DAP at a rate of 60kg/acre or three tons of well-rotten farmyard manure and mix thoroughly with the soil before placing the seeds.

The spacing within the rows is a foot. Plant at the onset of the rains. Make sure the field is kept weed-free. Birds are the major pests as they feed on the sunflower seeds and they can be controlled by use of scaring devices.

Ensure that you practice crop rotation to prevent build-up of pests and diseases.

Sunflower is ready for harvesting when the heads turn brown at the back and this is usually 30-45 days after flowering.

The seed moisture at this stage is 45 per cent. The head is cut about 4 inches below the flower. The seeds are removed and then dried to a moisture content of below 1 per cent.

The seeds are then used for extraction of oil and the byproduct (sunflower cake) is used as a livestock feed.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.