Inside the hall at Sarit Centre shopping mall in Westlands, Nairobi, tens of poultry farmers strolled from one stand to another inquiring about the technologies that could boost their agribusinesses.
At the exhibition dubbed Aviana Africa International Expo for Poultry and Livestock, tens of modern poultry and livestock equipment were on display.
Poultry keeping is one of the ubiquitous farming ventures across the country.
While almost every household owns a chicken, some for subsistence, a good number of farmers have turned poultry-keeping a big business.
There is, therefore, a huge need for technologies to cut operational costs, reduce diseases, improve efficiency and hence boost profit margins.
At the expo, it was noted that one of the biggest headache in the industry currently is that most farmers excessively use antibiotics and do not observe withdrawal period.
Thus, poultry products such as meat and eggs are sold in the market loaded with antibiotics residue.
Dr Victor Yamo, an animal health and protection specialist at World Animal Protection Africa, reckoned that farmers can use nutritional supplements such as prebiotics and probiotics to reduce over-reliance on antibiotics.
These nutritional supplements have mineral and vitamin contents that provide the birds with all the nutrients they require.
“When the animal gets all the nutrient it requires, it will not get sick,” Dr Yamo said.
The veterinary surgeon further advocated for deep litter poultry farming system as opposed to caging, noting cages deny birds freedom leading to stress.
“There are plans to phase out poultry cages by 2021, therefore, the international poultry market will not accept chicken products from caged birds. Local farmers should be cognisant of this fact while acquiring new technologies so that they do not splash millions into acquiring a technology which has no future,” Dr Yamo noted.
AUTOMATIC FEEDING SYSTEMS
Peter Kinyua, a poultry specialist, said probiotics and prebiotics effectively control bacterial infections in birds.
“The two are vitamins, minerals or yeast. They enhance weight growth in broilers and egg production in layers,” he explained, adding that they also control E.coli, which causes diarrhoea in poultry.
The nutrients should be given five times a month or two days in a week, he advised.
The experts further urged farmers to observe general hygiene on their poultry pens, drinkers and feeders to minimise disease infections.
Besides disease control on the farm, feeding the birds is another big challenge. Whereas many farmers have adopted automatic drinkers to water their birds, automatic feeding systems are still very rare, Dr Yamo observed.
Mohamed El-Zanaty, an engineer and exhibitor at the expo, said local farmers need to embrace recent technologies to enable them cut costs and maximise profits.
He further pointed out that the country needs high capacity farms to meet the high demand for poultry products.
“We deal both in fully automated and semi-automated poultry feeders and drinkers,” said El-Zanaty.
Burton Kihiu, a pig production expert at Big Dutchman, said the company has introduced new technology that include farrowing pens, maternity area pens and flooring system.
He added that there are now in the market automated and semi-automated feeders for pigs. The smallest feeder caters for up to 40 pigs.
According to Kihiu, pigs reared in cages can farrow up to five times a year as opposed to twice a year in the conventional method.
“Once a sow has delivered, it stays in the pen for about 28 days. Thereafter, it is taken to the insemination area and is inseminated in five days,” he explained.
After the insemination, the sow is taken back to join its piglets until after three months when they are weaned.
The company also has flooring systems which resembles crates. The system has holes that allow urine and manure to drop on the floor.