When it comes to poultry keeping, the method used in the village is whereby the poultry is left to wander freely in the homestead with little or no care. There are many problems that the birds face:
- The birds are not well fed as they feed on scraps of food, a few worms and other leftovers that they can find.
- Young chicks are also left to compete for food with the adult birds and become easy prey for predators and spread of diseases.
- The birds do not get enough water and do not also have shelter to protect them from wind and rain or to keep them safe from predators and thieves.
- The hens lay their eggs on the ground where they can be easily damaged or eaten by other animals.
- The birds are rarely vaccinated or given medication against diseases or parasites.
- The result is that many birds may get ill and grow slowly, producing fewer eggs and less meat.
In order to ensure good returns from your poultry, you should:
- Provide the birds with a good supply of various foods and clean water. Depending on the time of the year, they will be able to find part of their feed from scratching around the homestead.
- Provide extra supply of food so that the birds can gain weight and for the hens to lay more eggs.
- Feed the small chicks on food that contains proteins such as snails, worms and termites so that they can grow faster and healthier.
- Provide hens with a dark, quiet place where they can lay their eggs. Hens want to feel safe from predators and passers-by. If the hens are often disturbed they will keep leaving their nests and this affects hatching.
- If you interest is just egg production, then it is useful to keep hens only. One cock can also be kept to watch for predators and to service the hens. "When surplus cocks reach a marketable size, they should be sold, slaughtered or given away as presents to prevent the cocks from eating scarce feed as well as fighting and stressing the hens" (Network for Small Poultry Development, "Keeping Village Poultry").
- "The size of the flock should match the size of the house, the amount of feed you can afford to buy and the feed resources in the surroundings" (Network for Small Poultry Development, "Keeping Village Poultry").
- Do not buy birds from uncontrolled sources especially during periods when outbreaks of diseases are common because they can spread disease to others.
- Apply vaccination regularly according to the advice of local vaccinators or veterinarians. Small chicks should be vaccinated against the common contagious diseases at the age of 2-3 weeks.
- In case the poultry suffer from serious disease you should: Call the veterinarian, Separate the bird from the others, Kill the bird at once (depending on how serious the disease is), Burn or bury the bird deep enough to avoid dogs and other animals from digging it up and spreading the disease
- Check which hens have the signs of hatching once a month and give extra care.
Information Source: Network for Small Poultry Development, "Keeping Village Poultry", A Technical Manual on Small Scale Poultry Production, www.ivs.life.ku.dk