Chicken rearing

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Chicken are common domestic birds widely reared in many parts of Uganda. The scientific name for all domestic chicken is gallus domesticus. The male ones are called cocks; female are called hens and young ones chicks.
They are divided into the local and the hybrid chicken. Though many farmers in Uganda have embraced rearing chicken, many prefer the local breeds because of their high resistance to tropical diseases and adaptability to the conditions.




 Chicken is a major source of animal protein; it also contains cancer-protective vitamin B, niacin. Serving of chicken provides 72.0% of the daily value for niacin, source of vitamin B6 which is vital for energy production.
 The chicken egg contains proteins, with the egg white containing riboflavin; a yolk contains fat, and 1.33gm of cholesterol per 100 gm. It is also a source of vitamin A and B, calcium, phosphorous, lecithin and iron.
 Eating one egg is the same as eating more, so one does not need to eat many eggs to be able to get these nutritional values.
• Medium size.
• Dual purpose, these are the big types
• Hardy birds

Chickens need to be kept near a home for proper supervision. They should also not be located where there is too much bush to prevent wild animals from attacking them. Since they take a lot of water, it is important that the water source is not very far.
Chicken houses should be:
• Well ventilated to allow easy flow of air.
• Have proper sanitation, stagnant water should not be left in the house.
• Should be raised timber platform is fixed in the house so as the chickens are able to do exercises.
• It’s healthy for chicken to have a bit of access to their droppings to maintain natural the environment.
• Provide a basin full of sand in the chicken house which can be used by the chicken to bath.
• Chicken must not sleep in a wet house as this may be a bacteria breeding space.


Breeding stock should be selected from birds with good body size

They should be good egg layers

Avoid inbreeding as this can lead to poor growth, poor resistance to diseases and death in birds of the same mothers and fathers.

• A mature cock has capacity to fertilize 10 hens in a day
• Females are ready for fertilization at five months
• Male ones fertilize at 9 months
• Female ones make noise locally known as kukekema
• Climb plants and houses
• Male ones begin chasing hens
• Grow a comb on their heads
• Begins to crawl

While selecting birds to mate:
• It is always necessary to keep records for better selection of good breed.
• Avoid inbreeding as it leads to poor quality birds
• Select those that are mature enough. It is advisable to rear your own cocks
• Its not advisable for sick cocks to fertilize and vise versa

A pullet will start laying eggs at 6 – 8 months and at this stage a cock must be around to avoid the bird to lay UN fertilized eggs.
A hen can lay about 12 eggs at the start and will increase to over 20 eggs as it grows.
To prepare a lay nest:
• Get a broken pot and put some sand in it, place in the house, then cover with polythene and soft grass or millet husks on top. The sand keeps warmth as the polythene keeps away excess moisture.
• Or get cassava stem with 3 branches, put grass on top in such away that it forms a cave and place it an appropriate area, preferably in a corner.
• Get a basin, put sand, then polythene, get dry grass and put it on top and place it in strategic places for the hen to lay eggs.
• The laying hen will jump into any of the nests and lay its eggs there.
For the first layers, swing the pullet (hen) in the air and drop it in the nest. This is intended to confuse the bird in order to look for a resting place and will eventually find the nest and lay its eggs there.
• Some hens will go broody and one can be put in a broody house to sit on 8 - 15 eggs or even 20 depending on the size of the bird. Do not give too many eggs because these cannot be covered by the hen properly.
• The chicks need enough oxygen through the shell hence ventilation has to be provided
Incubation is defined as the embryonic development of a fertile egg to a chick. This can be done naturally by the mother hen or artificially.
Chicken eggs take 21 days to hatch eggs.
How to make Simple local incubator for 10-15 eggs:
• A simple incubator can be made using wood or clay pots.
• Get a small size clean pot of 79cm radiance
• Break the pot to ¾ of its size round.
• Put coffee husks to about ½ of it.
• Put ¼ part of the pot with clean cotton or soft grass.
• Put the eggs on the cotton in the pot and cover with cotton again.
• Cover the top of the pot with plastic bowl with small holes to enable aeration and temperature controlling.
• Insert a thermometer to check the temperature
• The recommended temperature is 37.5 degrees centigrade
• Change the eggs every day by putting the top one at the bottom.
• Stop changing at the 18th or 19th day to hatching.
• Reduce the cotton on the top as the chicks start to come out of the shells
After 5 days, get the eggs one by one and put them where there is direct sunlight and check through it. In case it's dark inside, it has a chick so you leave it to be hatched. If it's light inside then it has no chick so you remove it.
Get a torch or a candle in a dark place to check the eggs. If the egg is dark inside, then the chick is developing and if it is light, then there is no chick. These should be removed. The major aim of this is to give enough space for the mother hen, to hatch the remaining eggs as it won't have useless eggs which may be a burden for it to cover.
• Eggs should be kept in egg trays and placed in up light to avoid the eggs to go bad which may cause the eggs to rot during hatching.
• Avoid extra big eggs as they don't hatch properly
• Don't store eggs for more than 14 days before hatching as the chances of getting chicks out declines.
• Also avoid those that are too small as they always result into very small products
• Hatch only eggs that are clean as when you wash or scrub them, the coating that protects the chick inside may get off. This also expose eggs to diseases
• Ensure a clean environment
• A quiet and dry environment is necessary
• It is important that the nest is soft enough so as the eggs and the mother hen is not hurt.
• Farmers are advised to keep checking on the progress of the eggs in case of any broken ones. If you find any broken eggs, remove them with all the particles because if you don't, the hens can taste and if it finds the taste sweet, it will break all of them and eat.
• Provide enough food for the hatching hen because hunger can force it to resort to eating the eggs.
o If the eggs are many in the nest, you may put them out for about 2 minutes for more fresh air as the mother hen goes out. Or turn them but don't touch them during the last 3 days of incubation
o You must not touch the eggs with dirty fingers because the hen may reject them. Avoid oily hands as they may block air spaces.


The brooder:

During the first weeks after hatching, keep the chicks in an enclosure supplied with some heat and light especially at night. The brooding house should be well ventilated.

A paraffin lamp or electricity can be used to provide light:

While using a paraffin lamp, handle with care. They should never be more than 3/4 full of paraffin to avoid back up of vapor and danger of fire. The lamps should be lit a day before the chicks are brought in so that necessary adjustment can be made.

Using charcoal or hurricane lamp:

It should have wire mesh around it to protect the chicks from getting burnt.

Litter the floor with 2 – 3 inches of a layer of coffee husks or wood shavings.

Using warm floor brooder:

Make a box with help of a wire mesh of about 1 cm. Put polythene or sack on the bottom to avoid the chicks legs from going through the holes as their feet are still small.

Put a warm charcoal stove under on the floor. The wire mesh prevents the chicks from getting coccidiosis as the chicks cannot eat their droppings.

Using infra red lamp:

Infrared lamps are lamps hanged from the ceiling. The height needs adjustment as the chicks grow. Adjust the lamps up words as the chicks grow.

One day old chicks require heat of 35 centigrade up to 4 weeks.

1 sq m will accommodate 20 chicks.

Litter the floor with coffee husks or wood shavings.

Cover the litter with plastic or ordinary paper preventing the chick mistaking it for food.

In the first weeks the temperature needs to be maintained at 25 -30 degrees centigrade.

Reduce the heat gradually.

Make a large circle made of roofing felts or timber a round the lamp. Chicks should be able to move into the warm area and out again if the wish.

The brooder must not be overcrowded.

The corners should be round for the same reason.

A temperature of 37 centigrade degree should be put for 1 day chicks for at least one week. Reduce the temperature to 24 -27 centigrade degree as the chicks continue growing especially in the middle of the day, but not bellow 18 centigrade degree.
Car tyre method
Get an old car tyre and put the young chicks inside with wire mesh covering on top so that they don't escape. This keeps them warm enough and light is therefore not necessary. They are left in until they are about four weeks old then they are let out.
Light about two or more charcoal stoves and put them in corners of the chicken house to provide warmth to the chicks. Cover them to ensure that the chicks are not burnt.
• Give the chicks enough drinks
• Chicks should be given soft food
• They must be kept in a clean environment
• Avoid direct contact with water and keep them out of rain
• Mature chicken eat different types of food ranging from cereals like millet, sorghum and maize. They also eat sweet potatoes, vegetable, insects like termites and also eat fish
• Give them access to pasture
• Give chicks softer food
• Food given to chicken must be clean and their plates washed
• Always feed the chicks in one place to get them used to it.
• Provide salt to them but separately
• In case of broilers, provide 0.2 kg of feeds per day and layers need 0.1 kg per day.
• A mature bird needs a half to 1 litre of water per day. Water should be available for chickens to drink all the time.

• After hatching make sure the place is well cleaned to prevent pests and diseases from attacking them.
• Control people entering the chicks house to avoid entering with germs
• In case of death, burn and burry in the ground
• Control snakes and other dangerous insects by spreading onions in the chicken house and around it or by planting onions around the house.
• Excessive dust is dangerous to chicken as it may cause respiratory problems for them.
• Avoid a wet environment as it may be a breeding place for bacteria and other dangerous organisms.
• In case some chicken get sick, isolate them from those that are healthy and try to find out what the problem might be.
• Give the birds small fish locally known as mukene and other foods that contain proteins as they will help them be stronger and more resistant to diseases.

Bird flu (avian influenza) is an infectious disease of birds caused by an influenza virus. Birds excrete virus for about 10 days after infection in case it survives. This is done orally and through fieces. It is both transmitted to birds and humans causing massive death.
How it is spread:
• From wild to domestic birds through contact with saliva, blood, droppings and the nose
• Through any kind of close contact with sick birds
• Humans get it through contact with infected birds outbreak, eating birds affected, use of utensils used on infected meat e.g. folks and plates
Exposure is mainly during defeathering, slaughter and preparation for cooking. Avian influenza is caused by type A influenza virus. The viruses are spread to susceptible birds by inhalation of infective particles and from contact with the faeces of infected birds.
Coughing ruffled feathers, swollen heads, sneezing, fever, pneumonia muscle, throat aches, immense death, nervous signs such as depression and diarrhea. These may occur together or singly.
• Avoid movement of birds from farm to farm especially in areas of outbreak
• Don’t use utensils that have been used on sick birds e.g. Knives, folks, spoons etc.
• Avoid close contact with affected birds
• Take care while cleaning infected rooms to avoid infection
• Don’t use vehicles that have carried infected birds
• Don’t share accommodation with birds
• Disinfect all affected home steady homes and farms
• In case its recognized in your area put your birds in an enclosure


• Farmers should note that in case of an outbreak of bird flu, direct contact with infected birds, surfaces and objects contaminated by their faeces, are the major way through which humans are infected.
• Human beings are advised not to eat infected and dead birds.
• All infected birds should be killed immediately and buried or burnt
• Wild birds and their excretes should be considered a major potential source of avian influenza. Preventing direct contact with free-flying birds and preventing contact with the faeces of wild birds are important precautionary measures.

This is a viral, disease that doesn't attack only chicken but many bird types. The affected bird affects the mouth part, upper respiratory system and the bird develops wart like nodules on the skin and the comb. It is mainly spread by mosquitoes.
Fowl pox is a viral disease which is spread by the bites of mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects. The incubation period is between 1 and 2 weeks. The infection leads to the formation of wart-like nodules on the non-feathered parts of the head and legs and occasionally to similar lesions or canker in the mouth, nose and throat.
Chick pox is caused by a virus and mainly spread by mosquitoes. Fowl pox can also be spread directly by infection of small wounds in the skin and mouth of the bird. Overcrowding birds increases the risk of injury and may result in fighting and pecking.
• Wounds on the head (comb)
• The growth of the bird retards
• Loss of appetite
• Reduced egg production
• Wart-like nodules
• Fever, tiredness and late growth of young birds.
• Vaccinate birds in areas where the disease is prevalent.
• Reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
• Mix a half kg of garlic and 2 liters of water and spray the poultry house once a weak to kill mosquitoes.
• Remove membrane from the mouth and larynx.
• Add streptomycin sulphate to feeds.
• Add antibiotic and vitamin mixture to drinking water.
• Wash the wound with soap, remove the scales gently, get a little paraffin and rub on the affected areas gently using hands
It is a protozoan disease of poultry and other domestic animals.
It is caused by an organism of the Eirameria spp. The organism attacks the lining of the alimentary tracts (small and large intestine and liver)
Adults can also develop coccidiosis if they are stressed or if they are moved into a new environment that is heavily infested with locusts.
Coccidiosis is also common in crowded conditions.
Always keep the house or pen clean to avoid the attack.
Chicks should be put on raised wire mesh in order not to eat their droppings.

Mix ash with pepper and marijuana with high concentrations 1;1;1/2 tea spoons in 5 litre of water and give them to drink.
It is mainly spread through droppings and nasal fluids. Various strains of the Newcastle disease virus are capable of causing 100 % mortality in unprotected flocks. Outbreaks of Newcastle disease are unpredictable and effectively discourage farmers from paying proper attention to the husbandry
It is caused by a Virus and spread rapidly by contact from one another and dirty equipments.

• Gasping and coughing in chicks.
• Lack of co-ordination, paralysis and coma are also common.
• Adult cough and occasional paralysis develop.
• Birds lay soft eggs and egg production may stop altogether.
• Chicken may die without showing any signs of sickness
• Fluffing of feathers and appearing as if the feather is being dragged on the ground
• The head and neck may swell
• Respiratory distress and wheezing
• Greenish diarrhea
• High death rate
• Timely vaccination is the best prevention measure
• General cleanliness can reduce or avoid the disease pressure
• Mix maize flour with paraffin and feed the animals
• Avoid introduction of new birds to a flock during the period when new castle disease is common
• Never mix sick birds with normal ones
• Avoid contact with the people or cars that have hard contact with such sick birds. Dogs and cut that eat or have contact with chickens that have died from NC can also transmit the disease
• Keep the house clean
• Provide clean water r
• Do not vaccinate birds that already have signs of sickness
• Burry or burn all dead birds
• Mix (marigold) tagetes minuta (mukazi murofu) hot pepper, kibirizi,bombo,garlic,wood ash with water and boil, filter when cold and give 1 cc per bird
• Boil 2 full spoons of powdered chilli in one liter of water and give 2 spoons per infected bird.
• Consult a village extension work for further assistance
Infectious Bursal Disease of domestic poultry and occurs when the virus invades lymph tissue. It results in atrophy of the cloacal bursa, reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to other infections and a failure to develop an immune response to vaccines.
Chickens infected shed the virus in their faeces; feeds, water, and litter become contaminated. Infection can also be through contaminated equipment. Other chickens in the house typically become infected by consuming the virus.
• Symptoms include whitish diarrhea that sticks to the vent feathers - causing birds to pick at their own vents.
• Infected birds may not move much, suffer a loss of appetite and will become dehydrated. Deaths may occur after about a week, but survivors recover quickly.
• Chicks bend heads and die massively
Vaccinate the birds at the age of 2,4 and 6 weeks.
Consult an agriculture extension worker.
This is a highly infectious disease of poultry caused by bacteria of the salmonella group transmitted to chicks from carrier hens.
• White yellowish or green diarrhea will develop in the birds.
• Respiratory distress, dullness with drooping wings and sleepy eyes will develop.
• Anemia-combs and wattles get shrunken and pale yellow.
• Adult birds get difficult in breathing and the lose appetite.
• Sudden deaths are common in both chicks and adults.
• Vaccination should be done in time.
• Keep cleanness in house, food and water troughs and well ventilated.
Get 2 full hands of dry ash and put in a clean plastic tin of one kg, add 1 cup of water then leave it to drip in another clean plate or tin. After the water has dripped get 1 bulb of onion and some fresh roots of a small type of sisals wash and crush them together then mix it with the ash solution. Add another 2 cups of water then sieve properly in a container with a lid. Give 1table spoon to the sick birds 2 times a day until the bird heals.
A bacteria disease which can be transmitted from bird to bird or caused by stress or brought on moving, over crowding and contaminated equipments.
The bird smells and develops eye and nostrils discharges.
Swollen facial tissues and wattles occur.
Sneezing, coughing and difficult in breathing develop.
The birds appetite and egg production reduce.
Keep hygiene in the chicken houses.
Avoid conjunction of bird which may lead to infection.
Sulphur drugs in feed and water will depress the symptoms.
Put high levels of antibiotics in food and water to stimulate appetite
Is a common chicken health problem that is associated with large poultry flocks where the birds kept in close confinement peck each other. This can result in significant mortality within the flock when a wound is generated and it will also cause a decrease in egg production as the hen pecked birds become stressed. This is a vice which is usually precipitated by some aspect of management or environment which the birds are subjected to.
Toe picking in chicks, feather pulling in older birds from the head, tail or body. Vent picking in older especially egg laying birds.
• The problem may simply arise because of the normal pecking behavior when searching for food or exploring an environment.
• Keeping birds in barren, crowded conditions with little else to peck besides their pen mates. Once one hen has picked up this technique other hens, observing the behavior, will learn from the initial pecker and do the same.
• A lack or a deficiency of nutrients in a poultry ration may result in the birds becoming irritated which can subsequently lead to cannibalism in the flock. Usually when diet formulation is involved in the outbreak the imbalance is in the protein or the sodium level of the ration. Deficiencies can also be caused by insufficient feeding and water space.
• An abrupt change in the deliciousness of a flock's food may also be a contributing factor in the onset of cannibalism as the birds might impulsively seek alternative sources of food.
• Poor ventilation, high temperature, low humidity, excessive population density, and excess lighting are all factors in the flock's environment that may precipitate an outbreak of this vice, especially with the lighter breeds.
• Keeping different ages or colors together
• During egg laying the layer part may become damaged with the passage of large eggs and this projection of the vent may be an attractant to other birds due to its red color difference against the white body.
• Females laying on the floor rather than in a nest or cage.
• Diseases, especially those that affect the nervous system
Reduction in egg laying, wounds and eventual death
• The best medicine is prevention by de beaking / trimming the beaks of the birds
• Other control methods include, reducing group size, adding litter, adequate balanced feed, enough lighting (not too much), safe housing and environmental enrichment (providing distractants such as straw bales)
• Identify and separate birds pecking
• Remove and separate victims of cannibalism and provide more care
• Add enrichments, especially green vegetables
• Add feed and water space.
• Provide nest boxes
• Use an antibiotic wound spray on the affected areas
• Trim off the beaks
• Hang green leafy vegetables in the pen for the birds to eat
• spread grass clippings in the house on a daily basis
At high levels of infestation, attacks by the mite can cause increased stress to the birds and subsequently reduced egg production, anemia and in severe cases, death. They have also been implicated as vectors of several significant disease organisms such as chicken pox virus, Newcastle virus and fowl typhoid. Mites are also responsible for scaly leg.
• Itching and irritation
• Reduced egg production
• Anemia
• Birds may die
• Place branches of lantana camara (kapanga). The mites will jump over the leaves, get stuck there and then you remove and burn
• Place fresh pieces of jack fruits with sap in the chicken house to trap the mites, cu it off and throw it away.
• Pound dry leaves of Tephrosia (muluku), mix with water and pour in the house to kill mites.
• Burning cotton seeds in the house to produce smoke that chases the mites away.
• Application10% garlic juice in water of garlic to reduce northern fowl mite infestation
• Provide a basin of dust or sand for birds to roll. This will help to control mites

• Keep hygiene in the chicken house by sprinkling in water before sweeping.
• Rub old engine used oil in the nest box
o Droopiness
o emaciation
o Diarrhea.
o Loss of appetite and death in severe infection.
• Avoid mixing sick birds with normal ones
• Separate new chicks from old ones
• Crush Aloe Vera (locally known as kigaji), add water and give the solution to the chicken or alternatively cook the leaves in water and always give the chicken. Let them get used to water that contains this mixture.
• Regular addition of garlic into the drinking water is said to control intestinal worms.
• Citronella, also known as lemon grass, forms large clumps of aromatic long leaves that keep flies, fleas and mites away from area. The chickens eat the tips and brush against the bushes when planted close by
• Boil one leaf of Aloe vera with ½ litre of water. Leave to cool and give a tea spoon to each or leave them to drink this water for 3 days.
• Proper hygiene
• Clean the poultry unit all the time
• Remove and change litter when ever dirty
• Keep the water troughs clean all the time
• Fence the land to avoid un necessary movement
• Separate the sick birds and treat them
• It is important to keep good records of daily activities and observations, feed and water consumption, production (egg production or growth rate), and mortality

The fieces are used as fertilizers. Get the droppings and leave them until they rot. Apply around the crops. Do not use fresh chicken manure, as the high nitrogen content can lead to burning of plants. Instead, let the chicken manure sit in a pile for several weeks before applying to crops.
Collect chicken manure and the bedding material, dig a pit and place it there. Add water to the bin with a hoe. Add enough water so that the contents of the bin are damp, but not soggy and cover.
Check the temperature of the compost daily by inserting the probe end of a compost thermometer into the center of the pile. When the temperature reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit, allow the contents of the bin to rest for three days.
Turn the contents of the bin with a pitch fork to move the outer layers to the core and leave for 45 to 65 days. The composted chicken manure is ready for garden use when it resembles dark crumbly soil and gives off a sweet smell.

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