twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Breeding projects aim to help African poultry farmers

A series of projects have been launched across Africa to provide poultry farmers in the continent with better-adapted chickens

Breeding projects aim to help African poultry farmers Poultry farming is an important source of food and income for millions of African farmers. (Image source: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security/Flickr)

The African Chicken Genetic Gains programme aims to support productivity growth, increase household animal protein intake, reduce poverty and empower female farmers, all by improving the genetics of the chicken varieties available.

The project will initially focus on Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, but the germplasm, data and knowledge generated will have potential to impact millions of farmers across the continent for whom chicken production is an important source of food and additional income.

Previous attempts to introduce high-producing genotype chicken have failed to make a sufficient impact, according to Nairobi-based project organisers the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), as the exotic breeds used were ill-suited to local conditions, and required substantial investments in feed, energy and veterinary services.

However, researchers hope that by combining new genetics with improved local breeds and enhanced delivery systems, it will be possible to create high-producing, low-feed-input birds that are well-suited to local conditions.

Similar to the ILRI scheme, the European Union-funded Indigenous Chicken Improvement Programme (InCIP) has been running in Kenya and Malawi for the last three years, with collaborative research conducted by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Egerton University in Kenya and the University of Malawi.

The project leader at Egerton University, Professor Alexander Kahi, explained to African Farming, “We are currently at the research level of the project where we are collecting genetic resources, and producing the breeding stocks and hybrids for later dissemination to farmers.”

The renowned animal genetics researcher said the first step has been to identify various ecotypes available locally and seek out useful attributes that can be used for breeding and multiplication purposes.

“The main purpose of the programme is to improve indigenous chicken (IC) egg and meat production through proper breeding, feeding and disease control,” said Prof Kahi. “This will in turn improve on rural farmers’ income and reduce poverty.

“We are also working with government agencies and other players to link up with farmers, as well as poultry product processors in value addition.”

Initially, InCIP researchers conducted surveys in five Kenyan counties to identify different ecotypes, and evaluate eggs and meat composition.

The data collected in Narok, Bomet, Bondo, Kakamega and West Pokot indicates that there are five genotypes of IC in the country.

A post-graduate research project was also conducted in Lamu, Mwingi and Taita counties, using modern DNA techniques to identify different IC ecotypes and genotypes.

Researchers weighed eggs and different chicken parts, before chemically analysing the meat for dropping loss, Ph, cholesterol, tension, sensory attributes and colour.

“Analysis from the data collected indicates that Kenya has just three ecotypes of IC which we have named Lamu, Bomet and Kakamega. Lamu is a big bird, showing fast growth rates while Bomet is a good layer”, added Prof Kahi noting that the three will now be used as the breeding stock for IC improvement in Kenya.

In Malawi, InCIP investigators led by Prof Timothy Gondwe, of the Bunda College of Agriculture’s animal science department, conducted surveys across the north, centre and south of the country, identifying main eight phenotypes.

The Dwarf and Naked-Neck varieties were found to produce more eggs, while the Normal and Katsumba (Crest-head) types were found to be good for meat production, and the Feathered Shank (Masapa) and the Naked Neck birds had a superior capacity for disease resistance.

The Naked Neck ecotype has no feathers around the neck region, meaning it is also more tolerant of the high temperatures that characterize sub-Saharan Africa.

“At the same time, we are stocking Black Australorp, a dual purpose exotic breed for crossing with IC chicken,” said Prof Gondwe. “We are also working for more phenotypes and breeding to produce pure phenotypes.”

InCIP Malawi has started hatching IC eggs of different phenotypes, working with other stakeholders in the livestock sector to facilitate dissemination of the improved genotypes to rural households.

“We hope soon to access breeding stock for multiplication and dissemination,” said Victor Mhango, deputy country director of Heifer International Malawi, in a recent consultative meeting on the programme.

Two incubators are already in use for the hatching process; one from the government of Malawi and another 1500 egg capacity machine from the Malawi Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre (MIRTDC).

Feed formulation is also part of the programme in Malawi, said Prof Gondwe, who explained, “All feed is locally formulated and fed to chickens under confinement.

“Two students are evaluating optimal feed for IC chickens,” Prof Gondwe said, adding, “We plan to produce and sell IC feeds to farmers in town.”


Wadi Group celebrate 30 year landmark anniversary as Ross customer

Wadi Group celebrate 30 year landmark an…

Wadi Group recently celebrated 30 years of collaboration with Ross, at its seventh Wadi Poultry Academy held from 25-29 September in Cairo, Egypt

Roxell introduces Fortena chain feeding system for broilers in the production period

Roxell introduces Fortena chain feeding …

Roxell, a leading manufacturer of automatic feeding, drinking, nesting, heating and ventilation systems, has launched the Fortena chain feeding system for broiler breeders in the production period

AMINOHen® The egg industry nutrition software

AMINOHen® The egg industry nutrition sof…

Balanced feed is essential to sustainable egg production and in-depth knowledge of nutrient requirements is the key to effective diet design, yet gaining a full and current overview can be...

BRAC Liberia continues to support poultry farmers

BRAC Liberia continues to support poultr…

The country director of BRAC Liberia, Rosy Choudhury, revealed that the organisation had been providing continued support to more than 200 poultry farmers through initiatives aimed at improving the livelihood...

Stopping the spread: Biosecurity measures to tackle Avian Influenza

Stopping the spread: Biosecurity measure…

The deadly bird flu, Avian Influenza has wrecked havoc in poultry farms across the world. Botswana is one of the many countries that have been majorly affected by the outbreak

Nigeria leads egg production and stands second in chicken production in Africa

Nigeria leads egg production and stands …

During a two-day training and empowerment of select poultry farmers, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Earnest Umakhihe announced that Nigeria had continued to lead egg production...

Prev Next


Meyn’s new deboning solution offers full flexibility

Meyn’s new deboning solution offers full…

The global supplier of poultry processing services solutions Meyn Food Processing Technology’s new optional module, the semi-automatic loading carousel, saves labour and leads to higher poultry processing

Elanco gets grant worth US$2.86mn to increase food security in east Africa

Elanco gets grant worth US$2.86mn to inc…

Elanco Animal Health has received a grant worth US$2.86mn from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to provide sustainable development solutions to food insecurity in east African countries and improve...

Pelbo and Innovo form partnership for large egg processing projects

Pelbo and Innovo form partnership for la…

Pelbo, the Netherlands-headquartered Moba Group’s subsidiary in Brugherio, Italy, has partnered with Innovo, an Italian-based company that develops, manufactures and installs pasteurisation plants for food producers

Economics of broiler production

Economics of broiler production

MOST PEOPLE LOGICALLY assume that birds show improved performance with increased space, but it is the enhanced environment that should automatically arise from greater available space which is the crucially...

FAO and EPA partner to improve productivity of poultry industry

FAO and EPA partner to improve productiv…

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the Egyptian Poultry Association (EPA), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further their partnership and provide support...

EM Holding signs MoU to support poultry production

EM Holding signs MoU to support poultry …

Gambian-based EM Holding has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with non-bank financial institution Reliance Financial Services to enhance poultry production in Gambia

AgDevCo invests US$3mn into Uzima Chicken Ltd

AgDevCo invests US$3mn into Uzima Chicke…

AgDevCo has announced US$3mn follow-on mezzanine debt investment into Uzima Chicken Limited, a poultry company operating in Rwanda and Uganda

Farm Support Services holds seminar series for Nigerian farmers

Farm Support Services holds seminar seri…

Farm Support Services Ltd, which produces animal nutrition and medicaments, said it recently held a series of seminars to help farmers in South West Nigeria

Nigeria state government to revive poultry farm

Nigeria state government to revive poult…

The Nigerian state of Imo has announced that it will help revive the Avutu Modern Poultry farm in Obowo, currently in an abandoned state

British processor and Marel Poultry join forces

British processor and Marel Poultry join…

Cranswick Poultry PLC (Cranswick) has joined forces with Marel Poultry to install 15,000 bph processing line at Cranswick’s new greenfield primary processing plant in Suffolk, the UK

Evonik concentrates MetAMINO production at its three hubs

Evonik concentrates MetAMINO production …

In order to maximise economies of scale and utilise robust processes, Evonik will cluster its MetAMINO (DL-methionine) production at three regional hubs (Americas, Europe, and Asia)

Marel Poultry’s flexible modular system accelerates productivity

Marel Poultry’s flexible modular system …

Marel Poultry's ACM-NT Compact solution is set to automate cut-up, thus helping poultry processors in rapid business growth

Prev Next