This ILRI project report describes the characteristics of village chicken production and marketing, analyses its contributions to farmers’ livelihoods, and presents options for improving the traditional village breeding practices in Horro and Ada’a woredas in the central and western highlands of Ethiopia.
For the survey, a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) technique was used which includes focus group discussion, wealth-status analysis, willingness-to-pay analysis, trend analysis, gender analysis, key-informant interviews and field observations. Options for improved breeding practices were derived from a desk study.
Local chicken production in both woredas is predominantly based on scavenging, a low input–output production system. There is virtually no investment for housing, feeding and other husbandry practices in both woredas. A higher level of management is practiced by farmers rearing exotic chickens.
Analysis of gender roles in both woredas showed that both the husband and wife as well as the children play important, but different, roles and assume different responsibilities in poultry production and marketing. Women (wives and girls) play the major role, have more responsibilities than do men, and are involved in house cleaning, feeding, watering, and selling of chickens and eggs.
The major constraints for profitable chicken production identified by farmers include: poor services to village chicken production including technical advices; trainings; input supplies and in particular breeding stocks; and health services. Farmers express particular dissatisfaction in the health services, as their chickens are not vaccinated before or after disease outbreaks. Diseases and external parasites are the major problems identified by farmers in both woredas.
The major diseases include New Castle disease (locally known as fengil), avian cholera, infectious bronchitis, red fowl mite (qinqin/susii), fowl pox (fentata), sticktight fleas (yeaynquncha). Farmers reported that New Castle disease is the most prevalent and economically important disease.
Characterization of the chicken production system leads to the following recommendations for improvement of chicken production in low-input systems:
- introduction of market-oriented production practices to enhance the contribution of chicken production to farmers’ livelihoods;
- introduction of an efficient system for the provision of inputs;
- access to more profitable markets;
- training of farmers to enhance their market orientation.
Interventions need to target women who are the main actors in village chicken production. Major technical interventions would be control of diseases, particularly New Castle disease, improved feeding, housing and breeding stock.