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Mind chicken welfare to reap more

Friday May 6 2016

Ms Lilian Akinyi Okwiri with her one-week-old

Ms Lilian Akinyi Okwiri with her one-week-old broiler chicks at her Nyamasaria residence in Kisumu County. To ensure maximum health of your chicken, change the sawdust regularly and ensure it is always dry. FILE PHOTO | JACOB OWITI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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I have narrated before what made me arrive at my decision to raise Kienyeji chicken as opposed to exotic varieties that mature faster and rake in higher profits.

One of the things that determined my decision was a conversation I had with a farmer on ethics of animal husbandry.

“You need to think like a chicken to understand and empathise with them if you are to get more profit,” the farmer told me.

Now, if you find that weird, don’t worry, you will soon understand. Thinking like a chicken or empathising with the birds is certainly not something that concerns most farmers, who are struggling daily with high cost of feeds and poor access to ready markets controlled by unscrupulous middlemen.

The farmer convinced me to balance profit with animal welfare. You see, in many parts of the world, including Kenya, there is pressure to increase production of eggs and meat to meet the needs of a growing population.

As a result, factory-farming industries have emerged to ensure chicken production is designed for maximum profit. I once watched a documentary on the BBC where one farmer in Brazil slaughters 500,000 chickens (kept under the cage system) per day. That is a feat.