Article

The quantity and quality of feed available to indigenous chickens under the scavenging system in semi-arid Eastern Kenya

DOI: 10.1080/00128325.2016.1253324
Author(s): S. M. NziokaKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya, E. O. MungubeKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya, M. D. MwangiKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya, L. MuhammedKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya, J. M. WambuaKenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya

Abstract

Free range indigenous chickens suffer from low productivity due to inadequate quantity and quality of feed, high predation and high mortality rates. The aim of the study was to establish the nutritional gaps in the free range chickens’ diets. A total of 40 farmers from two locations participated in the study. The study used 548 chickens aged 7–8 months purchased from farmers. The experimental chickens were slaughtered before weighing the carcass and crop content. The weight of the gastro-intestinal tract, heart and liver was also recorded. The crop contents were analysed after drying in the oven for 48 hours at 60 °C to determine what was consumed. The mean live weight of the experimental chickens was 1443 ± 296 g. The chickens mainly fed on maize, which accounted for over 80% of their diet. The estimated metabolizable energy (ME) of the crop contents for the study chickens was 2887.8 Kcal/kg. Although the chickens from Kionyweni had significantly (P<0.05) higher ME than those from Kilome, it was lower than the 3044 Kcal/kg recommended for scavenging chickens. The crude protein (CP) was 10.6 ± 2.8%, which was lower than the 16–18% CP requirement for layers. The essential amino acids available to the chickens in the two study areas included lysine, tryptophan and methionine-cysteine. Their availability was higher during the rainy season compared to the dry season.

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