Best practices in keeping poultry and rotating crops - Daily Nation

Best practices in keeping poultry and rotating crops

Friday July 11 2014

Dr Stanley Wahome Mureithi tends to his 120

Dr Stanley Wahome Mureithi tends to his 120 chicken at his rental compound in Karatina town on February 27, 2014. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI 

I would like to rear layers chicken. Being a beginner, I have been advised by friends that I should get a proper chicken house. Any advice about keeping chicken for egg production would be greatly appreciated.
Timothy Muriuki  
Housing is an important component of establishing a successful livestock enterprise. Unfortunately, many farmers do not consider this during planning. Layers are specially bred hybrid for eggs production.

Apart from high-quality diets, proper management practices during rearing, housing plays a very critical role if the expected production is to be met.
If you’re going to get into commercial egg production, I assume you will want to acquire the hybrid birds and this will require that you intensify your production.

You will need to have a proper structure, provide feeds, vaccination and proper health management. Since the layers start laying at around five months, the birds are highly productive for one year after which egg production begins to drop.


It is not advisable to keep the layers for more than one-and-half years since it is not cost-effective.
At this point, the birds may be sold as ex-layers for meat.

More importantly, housing shields the birds from extreme environmental conditions such as rain and wind.
Second, it protects the birds from predators and third, it provides safe place for egg laying.

Conditions in the house should also be maintained optimal to ensure both health and comfort of the birds. Of importance, space requirements should be observed when designing a poultry house to prevent associated vices. On the other hand, proper ventilation should also be provided to avoid respiratory disorders.

Proper feeding and water troughs should also be used to avoid wet floors, which may predispose the birds to illnesses and parasite attack.
Consult an animal scientist in designing a suitable poultry house. The scientist will be able to guide you on the best site for your poultry house, the number of birds to raise based on your resources and space.

Depending on your site, an animal scientist will guide you on other potential enterprises to integrate with layers enabling you to reap more gold from your seeds.
 Wangui, James Chege and Sophie Miyumo, Animal Science Department, Egerton University
[email protected] or [email protected]
I am a maize farmer. What disease is this in the photo below, and how can I eliminate or control it?
The symptoms suggests that your maize is attacked by a fungal disease known as Head Smut (Sphacelotheca Reiliana). The most appropriate approach to managing the disease is to avoid recycling your own seed. Use certified maize seeds from a reputable company. However, in some cases, you may use certified seeds but still find that some plants will be attacked by the disease. Therefore, the best control is to uproot the attacked plants and bury them to avoid the spore from spreading to other healthy plants. Use of fungicides is not advisable since it is not effective or economical. However, you can use the fungicides only for seed dressing.
Sylvans Ochola, Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Department, Egerton University
[email protected]m

We live on an 18-acre land. Our parents planted maize for almost 40 years now. I want to do crop rotation, is sugarcane good for this.
David Lubaha, Lugari

I would not advise you to rotate with sugarcane. The two plants have almost the same demand for nutrients. The chances are high that the previous crop (maize) has utilised most of the nutrients hence the performance of your sugarcane will be poor. Apart from having the same nutrient demands, maize and sugarcane are attacked by the same pests and diseases, with a few exceptions.
Therefore, you are most likely to run at a loss. I would advise that you try horticulture. There is always demand and a market for horticultural crops.
Seeds of Gold Team
Egerton University

PRUNUS AFRICANA, a wonder Tree
My name is Timothy. I recently bought five acres in Maragua, Muranga County with the intention of farming. This land has over 500 Prunus Africana (muiri) trees, which I wanted to uproot. But a friend told me the trees have high medicinal value and that I can sell them. Would you please help me get a market for these trees before I make them firewood?

Prunus Africana is one of the most important medicinal trees in the world. Its bark is used in Africa on a large-scale for its medicinal value, including treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy and other related health problems.

It was declared endangered under Cites (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) II in 1995 and listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. As a result, all imports and exports of Prunus must be declared.

In addition, exporting countries must demonstrate that the source of the tree was harvested in a ‘sustainable’ manner. Trade in Kenya dates from early 1970s with only one entity licensed to source material (Jonathan Leakey Ltd). The exports are about 300 tonnes of the bark a year on average.

They are mainly exported to Europe (especially France) and China. However, harvesting and exploitation of the precious tree in Kenya is controlled and I would advise that you inform the authorities (area chief or Kenya Forest Service) to avoid getting into trouble over the destruction of the tree.

Seek assistance from the authorities concerning the harvesting and marketing. If the tree you have is really Prunus Africana, you have gold growing on your farm, and not firewood.

John Nganga; Crops Horticulture and Soils Department
Egerton University
[email protected]
I would like to buy a Sahiwal because I have been told it is hardy and productive. But they are also big, so I fear they eat a lot. Please tell me more about this breed.

Kipkoech Chepkorir, Chebunyo

Originally from the Sahiwal District of Punjab, the breed was introduced in Kenya in the 1930s. Since then, it has been extensively reared, improved and adapted to many regions in the country.

Sahiwal is a high quality dual-purpose Zebu breed that is ideal for semi-arid or marginal areas. It is preferred by many small-scale farmers as it is relatively resistant to ticks, is heat-tolerant, drought-resistant and is low on maintenance due to their ability to survive on poor quality pasture.

This breed flourishes in open fields as opposed to most dairy cattle that require zero-grazing.

The trade mark trait that makes them a preferred breed is the well-developed large–sized udder, envy of many other Zebu breeds such as the Small East African Zebu or Boran.

The Sahiwal breed is renowned as the highest milk yielding of all Zebu breeds. On average, it can give 1,570kg of milk yield per lactation. Generally, its output ranges from 970 to 2,200kg depending on the management regimes by the farmer. The butter fat percentage varies between 3.5 per cent and 5.3 per cent.
Milk production is excellent compared to the output by the East African Zebu. However, the Sahiwal’s milk production is relatively lower in comparison to the milk giants such Holstein and Ayrshire. The trade-off here is the adaptive features that the Sahiwal possess.

Sahiwal cows record an average mature weight of 425kg while bulls weigh 500kg, making them suitable for meat. The breed has a docile demeanour, very much like the Boran. The Sahiwal can gain up to 125 grams a day depending on the grass quality.
Dr Mary Muchunguh, Livestock expert