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Feedback: What causes wet litter in chicken coop and how to curb the problem

Friday February 3 2017

Three women attend to chicken in a coop.

Three women attend to chicken in a coop. Wet litter arises from feeds, diseases or poor management of the poultry house. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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CAUSES OF WET LITTER IN CHICKEN HOUSES

What could be wrong with my layers; they make their houses ever dump?

Inquiries from other farmers are pointing to either feeds or the birds themselves.

Mburu

Wet litter arises from feeds, diseases or poor management. Feeds that have high concentrations of minerals (sodium chloride – common salt), fibre (wheat, barley, cassava) and molds (mycotoxins) causes excessive water consumption resulting in wet droppings.

Chickens have a simple stomach and as such do not have the ability to digest high fibre diets effectively. This can be controlled by addition of feed enzymes in formulated rations to reduce intestinal viscosity and improve digestion.

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Diseases such as mycoplasmic infections (coccidiosis) and bacterial infections (colibacillosis) affect the digestive system resulting in secondary effects where birds go off feeding but maintain water consumption leading to diarrhoea.

Use of anti-coccidials in the diet or broad spectrum antibiotics help to control this condition.

Management factors should be considered by ensuring that the poultry housing is properly ventilated to manage water consumption during hot weather conditions and the litter material being used has high moisture absorption ability.

Sophie Miyumo,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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ADVISE, WHICH CHICKEN BREED SHOULD I KEEP?

I have tried poultry farming once but didn’t reap much, so I still consider myself a beginner.

I have pens that are secure and well-ventilated with enough space.

All I want is an advice on the type of chicken I can keep considering that this is what I want to do for long-term.

Farmer, Meru

The type of chicken to keep highly depends on type of market you want to get into and the ease of tapping into that particular niche.

Some markets focus on product quantity (mass production) and in such cases, you should consider rearing hybrids.

These could either be layers or broilers. Other markets focus on quality of product, in terms of consumer preference for organic products, therefore indigenous chicken serve the purpose.

Kienyeji chicken in a coop in Kakamega.

Kienyeji chicken in a coop in Kakamega. The type of chicken to keep highly depends on type of market you want to get into and the ease of tapping into that particular niche. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Options between quantity and quality influence the type of production system to be used. Mass production requires intensification where birds are fully confined, dependent on commercial feeds and high management to maximise on production.

In the case of quality, a semi-intensive system would be convenient in which birds are left out to fend for feed but supplemented with energy feeds.

Sophie Miyumo,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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THE BEST CROP TO GROW IN EMBU

I’d like to start farming on a plot in Ugweri, Embu County.

Kindly advise me on the best crops to try in the region as it doesn’t receive reliable rainfall throughout the year.

Eric

Tomatoes, garden peas, watermelons, Irish potatoes, carrots, cabbages, sukuma wiki, onions and fruits like avocado, mangoes, passion fruits and tree tomato can do well in Embu.

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

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VEGETABLE START-UP

I want to engage in agribusiness, where I come from, we have a shortage of vegetables but I don’t have capital to do it. Kindly advise?

Robert Kamweya

The first step in establishing any enterprise is to write a business plan. This document will help you approach potential investors who can also be friends and relatives.

An entrepreneur’s commitment to a course is often determined by how well written their business plans are. Currently in Kenya there are a number of interventions by the government, learning institutions and private businesses that seek to help entrepreneurs to start businesses.

A market woman sells her vegetables in a market in Kisii.

A market woman sells her vegetables in a market in Kisii. The first step in establishing any agribusiness enterprise is usually to write a business plan. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Your case can only be considered once you have a business plan with a clear business model.

We are currently involved in a number of farmer-based intervention programmes where business plan development and agri-preneurship capacity building (intensive on-farm training) are key in this initiative.

Keep reading Seeds of Gold to know when the next training is scheduled so that you take part. Please contact me on [email protected] for further information.

Dickson Otieno,
Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management, Egerton University.

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CROP ROTATION

I have been planting onions, some dhania, tomatoes and carrots on two acres. My area has water problem. Please advise on how to rotate my plants.

Lydia Liyio

When carrying out crop rotation, you should not rotate crops that belong to the same family.

Onions belong to alliaceae family, carrots and coriander (dhania) belong to apiaceae family and tomatoes belong to the solanaceae family.

Therefore, you should rotate onions and carrots, onions and coriander, tomatoes and carrots, tomatoes and coriander and tomatoes and onions.

You should never rotate carrots and corianders because they belong to the same family.

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

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I WANT TO ADD VALUE TO PINEAPPLES

The other week I came across a pineapple fruit value addition article by Joy Deborah Orwa and I was interested in the venture.

Geoffrey

Product value addition is vast and depends on many factors. I am working on an article which addresses the general information and techniques which will act as a guide for any value addition you would like to do.

A vendor sells his pineapples in Thika.

A vendor sells his pineapples in Thika. In cases of glut, value addition can be done to the crop to yield an array of benefits for the farmer. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Look out for it. You can reach me on [email protected] for more information.

Joy Deborah Orwa,
Department of dairy Food science and Technology, Egerton University.

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QUALITY MILK

I want to know how the quality of raw milk is determined. I am told vendors usually buy pre-heated milk from factories prior to distribution.

What does this mean? How then do households know if what they are receiving is good? I also notice that different branded milk of the same type will have different taste.

Why is this so? What does the nutrition content table on a milk packet mean? What are the regulations in the milk industry? How does one venture into the same?

Upin Vasani

Major components of milk that also influences its physico-chemical quality include water (87.3%), fats (3.7%), protein (3.2%), sugar (4.8%) and the rest are other trace components.

Several tests are performed on milk upon arrival at the collection centres or processing plants. These are organoleptic test, where milk is sniffed to detect any foreign smell apart from the smell of freshness.

This test is performed by experienced dairy technologists. Apart from the smell of spoilt or “mala”, milk can also acquire a strange smell if cows are fed on some shrubs or brewery products.

Lactometer test is used to check milk density, fresh milk density ranges from 1.026 to 1.034g/cm3. This test is done by a lactometer.

Milk having a density lower than 1.026 g/cm3 is assumed to have been adulterated with water while milk having a density greater than 1.034g/cm3 is assumed to have been mixed with other solids like flour.

Alcohol test is also performed on raw milk. Alcohol of between 68-72 per cent is used, 1ml of alcohol is mixed with 1ml of milk and observed.

Milk that shows clots infers positive results. This test checks for stability of milk protein upon heat treatment. Clot on boiling is also a test carried out to find out the stability of milk on boiling just like the alcohol test.

All these are rapid methods that are performed on raw milk to find out whether it should be accepted for processing or rejected.

They are called platform tests. Besides these, other tests carried out on milk to check the effectiveness of processing include; phosphatase test, which checks the effectiveness of milk pasteurisation and turbidity test which checks for the denaturation of milk proteins during sterilisation especially the albumin.

Eunice Matiru uses a lactometer to test milk in Nakuru.

Eunice Matiru uses a lactometer to test milk in Nakuru. Milk testing and quality control should be carried out at all stages of the dairy chain to improve quality and safety of raw milk. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Peroxidase test is used to distinguish between high and low temperature pasteurisation. Milk vendors make a huge section of milk value chain which should not be overlooked.

However, that is where serious problems occur. Majority of them sale raw milk from the farm, to worsen the situation some go an extra step to contaminate milk with water to make “huge” profit.

A few may be selling pasteurised milk from cooperatives. The challenge here is that the consumers lack the expertise and equipment to check for milk contaminants.

The solution here is to buy milk from reputable farmers or packed milk from dairy processing factories. Pre-heated milk in this context means pasteurised milk, this is the milk in which all pathogenic and majority of spoilage micro-organisms have been destroyed.

There is fermented milk, fresh milk, pasteurised milk and UHT. However, a small difference in flavour can be detected between pasteurised milk and sterilised milk because of the different heat treatment regimens applied.

The nutritional content table is a requirement on any processed food. This indicates the amount of each component of milk as a percentage or the total amount in 100ml of the milk.

It is a requirement for example by the regulatory bodies that processed whole milk should have 3.5 percent milk fat.

Godfrey Were Juma,
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology, Egerton University.