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VILLAGE CHICKEN PRODUCTION PRACTICES, MARKETING

AND EGG QUALITY TRAITS IN DIFFERENT AGRO-ECOLOGIES


OF KERSA DISTRICT; EAST HARARGHE ZONE, ETHIOPIA

MSc THESIS

TAGESSE SAWO SODENO

OCTOBER 2016
HARAMAYA UNIVERSITY, HARAMAYA
Village Chicken Production Practices, Marketing and Egg Quality Traits
in Different Agro-Ecologies of Kersa District; East Hararghe Zone,
Ethiopia

A Thesis Submitted to School of Animal and Range Sciences,


Post Graduate programs Directorate,
HARAMAYA UNIVERSITY

In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of


MASTER OF SCIENCE IN AGRICULTURE
(ANIMAL PRODUCTION)

Tagesse Sawo Sodeno

October 2016
Haramaya University, Haramaya
HARAMAYA UNIVERSITY
POST GRADUATE PROGRAMS DIRECTORATE

We hereby certify that we have read and evaluated this Thesis titled „„Village Chicken
Production Practices, Marketing and Egg Quality Traits in Different Agro-Ecologies of
Kersa District; East Hararghe Zone, Ethiopia’’ prepared under our guidance by Tagesse
Sawo. We recommend that it be submitted as fulfilling the Thesis requirement.

Negassi Ameha (PhD)


Major Advisor Signature Date

Mengistu Urge (PhD)


Co-Advisor Signature Date

As members of the Board of Examiners of the MSc Thesis Open Defence Examination, we
certify that we have read and evaluated the Thesis prepared by Tagesse Sawo and
examined the candidate. We recommend that the Thesis be accepted as fulfilling the Thesis
requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Animal Production.

Chairperson Signature Date

Internal Examiner Signature Date

External Examiner Signature Date

Final approval and acceptance of the Thesis is contingent upon the submission of its final
copy to the Council of Postgraduate Program (CPGP) through the candidate‟s department
or school graduate committee (DGC or SGC).

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DEDICATION

This Thesis work is dedicated to my late brother, TESHOME SAWO, who nurtured me
passionately but passed away accidentally without witnessing any of his dreams - my
achievements!

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STATEMENT OF THE AUTHOR

By my signature below, I declare and affirm that this Thesis is my own work. I have
followed all ethical and technical principles of scholarship in the preparation, data
collection, data analysis and compilation of this Thesis. Any scholarly material used in
preparation of the Thesis has been given recognition through citation.

This Thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Master of Science
degree at the Haramaya University. The Thesis is deposited in the Haramaya University
Library and is made available to borrowers under the rules of the Library. I solemnly
declare that this Thesis has not been submitted to any other institution anywhere for the
award of any academic degree, diploma or certificate.

Brief quotations from this Thesis may be made without special permission provided that
accurate and complete acknowledgement of the source is made. Requests for permission
for extended quotations from or reproduction of this Thesis in whole or in part may be
granted by the Head of the School or Department when in his or her judgment the proposed
use of the material is in the interest of scholarship. In all other instances, however,
permission must be obtained from the author of the Thesis.

Name: Tagesse Sawo Signature:

Date:

School/Department: Animal and Range Sciences

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Mr. Tagesse Sawo, the author, was born in 1984 at Soro District, Hadiya Zone, southern
Ethiopia. He attended his elementary school education in Soro Wosheba elementary
school, SNNPRS between 1991 and 1997 and his secondary school education in Yekatit
25/67 secondary school, Hossana between 1998 and 2001. Then he joined Hawassa
University (the then Debub University) in 2002 and graduated with BSc degree in Animal
Production and Rangeland Management in July 2005.

He was employed in Kafa Zone, Gesha District Office of Agriculture in July 2005 and
served in Gesha District Office of Agriculture (Kafa Zone), Anlemo District Agricultural
Office (Hadiya Zone) and Hadiya Zone Department of Agriculture, SNNPRS as Senior
Livestock Production Expert until he joined Haramaya University, School of Graduate
Studies to pursue his study for the Degree of Master in Animal Production in 2014.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First and foremost, I would like to thank THE GOD OF HOSTS for His eternal grace,
protection and immeasurable love, giving me strength and patience all the days of my life.

I feel extremely privileged to express my heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude to my major
advisor Dr. Negassi Ameha for his unreserved advice, encouragement, professional
guidance, moral support and valuable comments throughout the research work apart from
teaching me Animal Physiology and Poultry Production courses.

My deepest gratitude also goes to my co-advisor Dr. Mengistu Urge for his limitless
guidance, help, technical advice, constructive comments and timely feedback during the
preparation of the Thesis.

I am indebted to Haileyesus Tessema, the best friend I can ever have, for his motivation,
moral support during the research work and covering part of the research fund. I am also
grateful to my brother and friend Solomon Mencha (Mamush) for his encouragement and
constant demonstration of love that inspired me to pursue my Thesis work. I also gratefully
acknowledge the contribution of my friend Muluken Zeleke who generously contributed
his time, energy and expertise to assist me during data analysis.

I would like to express my gratitude to Kersa district office of Livestock Development,


development agents and district experts for their assistance and provision of required
information during data collection. I am also deeply indebted to Haramaya University
hatchery and egg quality laboratory for their cooperation and assistance during laboratory
work. Most importantly, the people covered by the study (respondent farmers) should be
thanked for providing this important information.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my family for their endless patience and
prayer during my academic career.

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ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

ANOVA Analysis of Variance

BW Bovans White

CSA Central Statistical Agency

DA Development Agent

EARO Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization

ESAP Ethiopian Society of Animal Production

ETB Ethiopian Birr

FAO Food and Agricultural Organization

ha hectare

HH Household

HPAI Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

HU Haugh Unit

IB Isa Brown

ILRI International Livestock Research Institute

INFPD International Network for Poultry Development

IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development

KDS-HRC Kersa Demographic Surveillance and Health Research Centre

masl Meters above sea level

NCD Newcastle Disease

PK Potchefstroom Koekoek

RIR Rhode Island Red

RK Rural Kebele

SAS Statistical Analysis System

SEM Standard Error of Mean

SFRB Scavenging Feed Resource Base

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SI Shape Index

SNNPRS Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples‟ Regional State

SPSS Statistical Package for Social Sciences

USAID United States Agency for International Development

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION iii
STATEMENT OF THE AUTHOR iv
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH v
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS vi
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS vii
TABLE OF CONTENTS ix
LISTS OF TABLES xi
LIST OF FIGURES xii
LIST OF TABLES IN THE APPENDIX xiii
LIST OF FIGURES IN THE APPENDIX xiv
ABSTRACT xv
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW 4
2.1. Chicken Production Systems 4
2.1.1. Origin, domestication and distribution 4
2.1.2. Breeds and productivity 6
2.1.3. Chicken Production systems in Ethiopia 7
2.2. Importance of Village Chicken Production 8
2.3. Socio-economic and Cultural Significance of Rural Chicken Production 4
2.4. Purpose of Keeping Chicken 10
2.5. Decision Making and Ownership 10
2.6. Smallholder Chicken Production and Management Practices 11
2.6.1. Feeding and watering 11
2.6.2. Housing 11
2.6.3. Chicken health management 12
2.7. Agricultural Extension Services 13
2.8. Marketing of Chicken and Chicken Products 13
2.9. Egg Quality Traits 14
2.10. Major Constraints of Village Chicken Production 15
2.10.1. Nutritional constraints 15
2.10.2. Disease and predation 16
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TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)

2.10.3. Infrastructure and market constraints 17


2.10.4. Social and cultural constraints 17
3. MATERIALS AND METHODS 19
3.1. Description of the Study Area 19
3.2. Research Methodology 20
3.2.1. Site selection and sampling technique 20
3.2.2. Survey 21
3.2.3. Egg quality 21
3.3. Statistical Analysis 22
4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 24
4.1. Socio-economic Characteristics of the Household Farmers 24
4.2. Chicken Flock Characteristics 27
4.3. Chicken Husbandry Practices 28
4.3.1. Poultry feeding and watering practice 28
4.3.2. Poultry housing 32
4.3.3. Poultry diseases and health care 34
4.4. Production and Productivity Performance of Village Chicken 37
4.5. Ownership, Decision Making and Division of Household Labor 40
4.6. Purpose of Keeping Chicken 42
4.7. Agricultural Extension Services 43
4.8. Village Chicken and Egg Marketing 45
4.8.1. Profile of the market participants 45
4.8.2. Marketing characteristics of the study district 46
4.8.3. Prices of chicken and eggs 48
4.8.4. Marketing constraints 48
4.9. Egg Quality Traits 51
5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 55
6. REFERENCES 59
7. APPENDICES 65

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LISTS OF TABLES

Table Page

1. Demographic profile of farmers in Kersa district 26


2. Household characteristics and livestock holding in Kersa district 27
3. Village chicken flock structure in Kersa district 28
4. Feeding practices of village chicken in Kersa district 30
5. Watering practice for village chickens in Kersa district 31
6. Housing system of village poultry in Kersa district (% respondents) 33
7. Poultry diseases and health care practices in Kersa district 36
8. Production and productivity performance of village chicken in Kersa district 39
9. Decision making, chicken ownership and division of household labor in Kersa district 41
10. Purpose of poultry keeping in Kersa district (% respondents) 42
11. Agricultural extension services in Kersa district (%respondents) 44
12. Respondents‟ profile of the market actors in Kersa district 45
13. Marketing characteristics of poultry and poultry products in Kersa district 47
14. Prices of eggs and chicken in different markets and seasons in Kersa district 47
15. Determinant factors affecting prices of eggs and chicken in Kersa district (%
respondents). 48
16. Marketing constraints of poultry and eggs in Kersa district (% respondents) 49
17. Egg quality traits of village chicken in three agro-ecologies of Kersa district 53
18. Egg quality traits of village chicken in the three market places of Kersa district 54

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1. Map of the study district (Source: KDS-HRC) 19


2. Marketing channels of chicken and eggs in Kersa district 50

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LIST OF TABLES IN THE APPENDIX

Appendix Table Page

1. Summary of ANOVA for productive performance in different agro ecologies 75


2. Summary of ANOVA for egg quality traits in different agro ecologies 75
3. Summary of ANOVA for egg quality traits in different markets 75

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LIST OF FIGURES IN THE APPENDIX

Appendix Figure Page

1. Scavenging poultry production system in Kersa district 76


2. Mode of transporting chickens to market places in Kersa district 76
3. Marketing of poultry in open market of Kersa town 77
4. Marketing of eggs in Kersa district 77
5. Measurement of egg shell thickness in the Laboratory 78
6. Measurement of egg yolk color in the Laboratory 78

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VILLAGE CHICKEN PRODUCTION PRACTICES, MARKETING
AND EGG QUALITY TRAITS IN DIFFERENT AGRO-ECOLOGIES
OF KERSA DISTRICT; EAST HARARGHE ZONE, ETHIOPIA

ABSTRACT

This study was conducted in three agro-ecologies of Kersa district to generate information
on the existing production system, marketing and egg quality traits of indigenous village
chicken. A total of 120 indigenous chicken owners from Highland, Midland and Lowland
and 51 market participants from the three selected market places (Lange, Kersa and
Woter) were included in the study. A two stage purposive sampling (for agro-ecology and
RK selection) and a random sampling technique to select HH’s were used. For marketing
survey, a randomly selected sellers, buyers and intermediaries were interviewed from each
of the three selected market places and market chain of village chicken and eggs in the
district was mapped accordingly. A total of 330 eggs from the interviewed chicken owners
in the district and 180 eggs from three market places were collected to evaluate egg
quality traits of village chickens. All the data collected were analyzed using SPSS and SAS.
The result of the study showed that the average chicken holding in the area was 9.92 birds
per HH. Majority of the respondents (91.7%) in the study area practiced scavenging with
supplementation. The vast majority of the respondents (93.3%) also provided water for
their chicken. None of the interviewed HH’s had separate poultry house. The result of the
study also revealed that Newcastle disease (94.2%) was the most dominant chicken disease
followed by Coccidiosis (5.8%). Mean age at first egg, clutches per year and clutch length
were 7.35±0.06 months, 3.99±0.07 and 19.77±0.17 days, respectively. Average eggs per
hen per clutch was 14.64±0.20 with annual egg production of 57.93±1.09 eggs per bird.
The overall mean hatchability (%) and chick mortality (%) were 76.30±0.57 and
43.04±0.48, respectively. Village chicken were predominantly possessed (98.3%) and
managed (71.7%) by women. Majority of the respondents (92.5%) kept chicken for sale as
an immediate source of cash for basic HH necessities of the owners. 84.2% and 40.8% of
the respondents also highlighted that they kept chicken for home consumption and stock
replacement, respectively. The overall mean egg weight, shell thickness, albumin height,

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yolk height, albumin weight, yolk weight and egg shell weight were 41.9 g, 0.29 mm, 4.75
mm, 14.91 mm, 21.16 g, 14.86 g and 4.50 g, respectively. The overall mean yolk colour
value was 10.01and average Haugh unit score was 73.83. In general, village chickens in
the district showed low performance in terms of the most important production traits,
though a substantial opportunity is available for improvement. Training and education of
women, strong extension service delivery regarding husbandry practices, enhancing
access to veterinary services, improvement of market infrastructure and proper handling of
eggs are recommended to boost up the current low performance of village chickens in the
district.

Key words: Egg quality, Kersa district, Marketing system, Production performance and
Village chicken

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1. INTRODUCTION

Ethiopia has the highest number of livestock in Africa and its livestock population is the
tenth largest in the world (FAO, 2010). The total livestock population in the country
comprises 55.03 million cattle, 27.35 million sheep, 28.16 million goats, 1.96 million
horses, 6.95 million donkeys, 0.36 million mules, 1.1 million camels and 51.35 million
chicken (CSA, 2014). Poultry production, as one segment of livestock production, has a
peculiar contribution to the sector. This is mainly due to their small size and fast
reproduction rate as compared to most other livestock and it is well fitted with the concept
of small-scale agricultural development (Mekonnen, 2007).

Nearly all rural and peri-urban and some urban families in the developing world keep a
flock of poultry, either in a free-range system or in a small scale confined system (FAO,
2009). Poultry is an important farm species in almost all countries in the world. It is an
important source of animal protein, and can be raised in situations with limited feed and
housing resources. Chickens are „waste-converters‟: they „convert‟ a scavenged feed
resource base into animal protein. They are therefore important species for generating
income for rural families (Van Eekeren et al., 2006). Village poultry significantly
contributed to the livelihoods of poor households: economically as a starter capital, as a
means to recover from disasters, as an accessible protein source and for income and
exchange purposes, and socio-culturally for mystical functions, hospitality and exchange of
gifts to strengthen social relationships (Aklilu, 2007).

Family poultry is rarely the sole means of livelihood for the family but is one of a number
of integrated and complementary farming activities contributing to the overall well-being
of the household. Poultry provide a major income-generating activity from the sale of birds
and eggs. Occasional consumption provides a valuable source of protein in the diet.
Poultry also play an important socio-cultural role in many societies (FAO, 2004). For
smallholder farmers in developing countries, family poultry represents one of the few
opportunities for saving, investment and security against risk (FAO, 2004). Improving the
poultry productivity would improve protein nutrition and could increase the income levels
of the rural population. In addition, consumers prefer meat from indigenous chickens,
because of its leanness (Alewi and Melesse, 2012).
2

Throughout the African continent the keeping of poultry by local communities has been
practiced for many generations. Village birds currently make up more than 80% of the
continent‟s poultry flock, 20% being hybrid and pure exotic breeds (Gueye, 2007).
Ethiopia is representative of countries where village poultry plays a dominant role in total
poultry production. The sector represents an important part of the national economy in
general and the rural economy in particular (Aklilu, 2007). According to CSA (2014) the
chicken population comprises 96.83%, 2.37% and 0.8% of the total poultry to be
indigenous, hybrid and exotic, respectively. About 99% of the annual poultry meat and egg
production comes from the indigenous chickens kept under the traditional management
system (FAO, 2008b). These figures prove the significance of indigenous chicken ecotypes
to be principal potential farm animal genetic resources of the country. However, the
economic contribution of the sector is still not proportional to the huge chicken numbers,
attributed to the presence of many technical, organizational and institutional constraints
(Fisseha et al., 2010).

Traditionally the productivity of scavenging hens was considered to be low because of


their low egg production potential and poor management. This was also due to their long
reproductive cycle (attributed to natural incubation and brooding) and high chick mortality
caused by disease condition and predations (Solomon, 2012). Despite their low
productivity, the indigenous chickens are known to possess desirable characters such as
thermo tolerant, resistant to some disease, good egg and meat flavour, hard egg shells, high
fertility and hatchability as well as high dressing percentage (Aberra, 2000 cited in
Mekonnen, 2007). Successful poultry interventions would allow the sub-sector to move to
improved family poultry with semi- scavenging crossbreds and for substantial increases in
the scale of specialized layer and broiler operations. Such a transformation would
contribute considerably to reducing poverty and malnutrition among rural and urban poor,
as well as increasing national income (Shapiro et al., 2015).

The Oromia Regional State is divided into 17 administrative zones, and it is well known
for huge livestock and poultry populations. According to the recent agricultural census
CSA (2014) there were around 19.3 million chicken populations in Oromia region,
accounting for 37.6% of the national chicken population. East Hararghe zone, one of the
administrative zones of Oromia region where the study district is located, accounts for 8%
of the regional chicken population (CSA, 2014). Part of the East Hararghe Zone, Kersa
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district is assumed to be one of the potential areas with high chicken population indicating
the potential of the sector to play a significant role for the resource-poor farmers.

However, the productivity of the village chicken, the production and marketing systems at
which the indigenous chicken are exposed is little known in Kersa district since there were
no studies undertaken to characterize the prevailing production and marketing systems, the
handling and quality of eggs laid, and constraints associated with production and
marketing systems. This situation calls for a systematic study aimed to assess management
practices, determine productive performances and evaluate egg quality traits of chicken
under village poultry production system. Therefore, this study was conducted in Kersa
district of East Hararghe Zone (Oromia region) with the following objectives:-

General objective:-

 To characterize the existing chicken production and marketing practices and to


evaluate egg quality traits in Kersa district of east Hararghe Zone (Oromia region)

Specific objectives:-

 To assess management practices and socio-economic functions of village chicken


in the study area
 To investigate marketing channels and key actors in the poultry marketing system
 To determine egg quality traits of village chicken in the study area
 To identify major constraints and priorities for improvement and extension
interventions under village poultry production system in the study area
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2. LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Chicken Production Systems

2.1.1. Origin, domestication and distribution

Poultry is a name given to domesticated birds kept by humans for the eggs they produce,
their meat or feathers. It includes chickens, ducks, pigeons, turkeys, guinea fowls, geese,
quails, ostriches and doves kept by humans. Poultry is very often used as synonymous to
chicken as they are more commonly found and are of great importance for meat and egg
(Augustine and Shukla, 2015). Poultry species are originated from south East Asia and
domesticated from red jungle fowl. Four wild species of the jungle fowl is existed such as
the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), the grey jungle fowl (G. sonnerrati), the ceylon jungle
fowl (G. lafayettei) and the green jungle fowl (G. varius) (Addis, 2014). Domestication of
poultry is said to have started in Asia and there is evidence of domesticated chickens in
China that goes back to 3000 BC. It is believed that today‟s breeds originated in India,
since the earliest record of poultry dates back to about 3200 BC in that country (Daghir,
2008).

Nowadays, indigenous village chickens are the result of centuries cross-breeding with
exotic breeds and random breeding within the flock. As a result, it is not possible to
standardize the characteristics and productive performance of indigenous chickens
(Sonaiya and Swan, 2004). In Ethiopia ostriches, ducks, guinea fowls, doves and pigeons
are found in their natural habitat (wild) whereas, geese and turkey are exceptionally not
common in the country. Thus, the word poultry production is synonymous with chicken
production under present Ethiopian conditions (Meseret, 2010 citing EARO, 1999).
Indigenous chicken don‟t have phenotypic standards and their classification is given based
on colours and name of place where they are identified. Extensive production system is the
dominant management practice of chicken with small feed supplementation (Addis, 2014).

The four major regional states interms of land area and human population (Oromia,
Amhara, SNNP and Tigray) collectively account for about 96% of the total Ethiopian
poultry population. Chicken rearing is not common in the lowlands of Ethiopia (Somali,
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Gambella, Afar and Benishagul-Gumze Regional States), which collectively own 3.24% of
the total national chicken population (FAO, 2008b). Poultry population density in the
country is relatively low and may not necessarily follow the one for people. The
predominant bird species are chickens (FAO, 2008a). Domestic chicken flocks are small
with average 7-10 mature birds per household (but this can vary from region to region).
Typically, the household flock consists of 2-4 adult hens, one male bird and growers of
various ages (FAO, 2008a).

The modern poultry sector in Ethiopia comprises a few small to medium scale semi-
commercial producers and even fewer large-scale commercial farms. These producers,
especially large-scale farms, have strong backward and forward linkages in the economy.
Large-scale commercial poultry farms involve a highly intensive production system with
10,000 or more birds kept under indoor conditions with a medium to high bio-security
level. This system depends heavily on imported exotic breeds that require inputs such as
feed, housing, healthcare, and a modern management system (Alemu et al., 2008).

2.1.2. Breeds and productivity

Upto present, the domestic chicken sector has been dominated by traditional production
practices, and local breeds represent almost 98% of the national poultry flock (FAO,
2008a). Indigenous chickens are widely distributed in the rural areas of tropical and sub-
tropical countries where they are kept by the majority of rural poor. Indigenous chickens in
Africa are in general hardy, adaptive to rural environments, survive on little or no inputs
and adjust to fluctuations in feed availability (Halima, 2007).

Ethiopian chickens have a variety of morphological appearance. They vary in colour, comb
type, body conformation and weight, and may or may not possess shank feather. Eggs have
thick shells and deep yellow coloured yolk. Indigenous chickens, however, have low
productivity, annual egg production is estimated at 60 eggs (average 38g); while the
carcass at 6 months of age is about 0.5kg from a live bird of about 1.5kg. Low productivity
is also due to low or medium hatchability at about 70% and high mortality. Estimated 40-
60% of chicks die during their first eight weeks mainly due to disease and predators (FAO,
2008a citing Demeke, 2007). Indigenous village birds in Ethiopia attain sexual maturity at
6

an average age of seven months (214 days). The hen lays about 36 eggs per year in three
clutches of 12 to 13 eggs in about 16 days. If the hen incubates her eggs for three weeks
and then rears the chicks for twelve weeks, then each reproductive cycle lasts for 17
weeks. Three cycles then make one year. These are very efficient, productive and essential
traits for survival (Sonaiya and Swan, 2004).

2.1.3. Chicken production systems in Ethiopia

Poultry sector in Ethiopia can be characterized into three major production systems based
on some selected parameters such as breed, flock size, housing, feed, health, technology
and bio-security (Alemu et al., 2008). These are village or backyard poultry production
system, small scale poultry production system and commercial poultry production system.
Backyard poultry production system is characterized by a low input (scavenging is almost
the only source of diet), low input of veterinary services, minimal level of bio-security,
high off-take rates and high levels of mortality (Alemu et al., 2008). In terms of bio-
security, the backyard poultry producers use inputs with little or minimum external inputs,
which include poor quality feed; mixed cereals; local breeds sometimes combined with
improved breeds obtained from extension services or neighbouring farmers; minimal
veterinary services from Bureau of Agriculture; local labour and traditional housing
systems (Aila et al., 2012).

Indigenous poultry are local birds whose rearing system is characterized by extensive
scavenging management, no immunization programs, increased risk of exposure of birds to
disease and predators, and reproduction entirely based on uncontrolled natural mating and
hatching of eggs using broody hens, where there is no or minimum intervention to
maximize their production and reproductive performance (Bushra, 2012; Wanjugu, 2015).
Family poultry are kept under a wide range of conditions, known as production systems
(INFPD/FAO/IFAD, 2012).

Village poultry is kept with minimal input of resources and is considered by most
smallholders as supplementary to the main livelihood activities. The birds scavenge to find
feed and are rarely provided more than kitchen leftovers, although supplementation with
cheap grains or leftovers from the keepers‟ own grain production does occur. Sheds, if
7

provided, are made of local materials. Poultry keepers lose many birds as a result of
diseases and exposure to predators, but little attention is paid to the health and protection of
birds. The birds are mainly indigenous, sometimes mixed with foreign birds. The
productivity of village poultry is low as a result of the above characteristics but the little
output obtained from keeping poultry contributes to household income and provides access
to high-quality protein, which is generally in short supply (FAO, 2010).

In small scale commercial poultry production system, modest flock sizes usually ranging
from 50 to 500 exotic breeds are kept for operating on a more commercial basis. Most
small scale poultry farms are located around Debre Zeit town in Oromia region and Addis
Ababa. This production system is characterized by medium level of feed, water and
veterinary service inputs and minimal to low bio-security (Alemu et al., 2008).

Large-scale commercial poultry production system is a highly intensive production system


that involves, on average, greater or equal to 10,000 birds kept under indoor conditions
with a medium to high bio-security level. This system heavily depends on imported exotic
breeds that require intensive inputs such as feed, housing, health, and modern management
system. This system is characterized by higher level of productivity where poultry
production is entirely market-oriented to meet the large poultry demand in major cities.
The existence of somehow better bio-security practices has reduced chick mortality rates to
merely 5% (Bush, 2006 cited in Alemu et al., 2008).

2.2. Importance of Village Chicken Production

In developing countries, many households keep poultry in their farmyard. Poultry keeping
practiced by rural households using family labour is referred to as village poultry keeping
(Aklilu, 2007). Small scale-poultry production is an obvious and well-documented
opportunity for poor farmers to start income generating activity. Poultry are cheap, easy to
rear, and easy to manage. Consequently, there has been and there is a growing attention
and interest in poultry production in villages as well as in peri-urban and urban areas
throughout the developing world (FAO, 2009).

Family poultry farming plays an important role in poverty alleviation and in providing
food security in developing countries. In some African and Asian countries, the local
8

chicken breed is the sole source of animal protein to be found in the diet of rural dwellers.
On top of being a source of income, the backyard chicken represents a form of prestige in
those areas (Moula et al., 2012). For rural communities, poultry continue to be an integral
part of farming systems and household economies while for cities and towns, large and
small scale commercial poultry industries perform a critical role in providing safe, good-
quality products for urban consumers (Aila et al., 2012).

2.3. Socio-economic and Cultural Significance of Rural Chicken


Production

If village poultry are significant for their nutritional or economic value, they also play a
significant role in human society through their contribution to the cultural and social life of
rural people. The gift of a chicken is often, in many parts of Africa, a way of welcoming
high status visitors or honouring affines and kin. Birds are also frequently sacrificed, in
some cultures the entrails of dead birds are consulted as oracles (Aklilu, 2007). Birds are
given away as gifts, they are sacrificed to ancestors and divinities, or they are consumed as
part of ritual and secular celebrations, thereby strengthening important social bonds. In
some societies, chickens may be used to foretell the future through divination rites. As
such, poultry play an important cultural and social roles as well as being used to meet
individual economic goals (FAO, 2010).

Poultry are used for strengthening marriage partnerships and social relationships. In the
local culture, particularly in the remote areas of Tigray and Amhara regions, women who
can provide men with food like a chicken dish (Doro wot) are considered to be
contributing to a stable marriage. Serving Doro wot is also a demonstration of respect to

guests, thus strengthening a social relationship which is especially important for poor
households. For the poor, poultry meat is the only special meal they can afford during
religious festivities like New Year, Christmas and Ester. Church leaders and attendants are
also served with chicken dishes (Aklilu et al., 2007).
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2.4. Purpose of Keeping Chicken

In rural households, poultry are kept more as a secondary activity for supplemental income
and are a small percent of household assets. This results in low investment levels in the
poultry. When compared to other household activities, poultry are seen as high risk with
low returns, mainly due to diseases. Growth in the family flock can be erratic during the
year (USAID, 2010). The backyard poultry production systems are not business oriented
rather destined for satisfying the various needs of farm household. In this case, the major
purposes of poultry production include egg for hatching (51.8%), sale (22.6%), and home
consumption (20.2%) (Alemu et al., 2008).

Mekonnen (2007) indicated in a study carried out in Dale, Wonsho and Loka Abaya
districts of Southern Ethiopia that the most important reasons for keeping chickens were
for sale (44%) followed by replacement and consumption which accounted for 34% and
22%, respectively, explaining the extensive backyard poultry production in the area is
mainly used to generate cash. A study conducted in Northern Gondar, Ethiopia (Wondu et
al., 2013) indicated that the main objectives of keeping poultry were for home
consumption and income generation which is in agreement with Matiwos et al. (2013) who
reported that 50% of the total respondents in Nole Kabba District, Western Wollega,
Ethiopia kept poultry as a source of family income while 27% kept for food. A study by
Samson and Endalew (2010) in Mid Rift Valley of Oromia, Ethiopia reveals that the
majority of chicken keepers in the area use chickens and chicken by products for home
expenditure 44%, followed by home consumption 24%, for ceremony and/or sacrifice 22%
and 10% for deposit. According to a study conducted in Western Kenya indigenous
chicken was kept mainly for subsistence and commercial purposes (over 80%) besides
other uses such as church contribution, celebrations and emergencies like funeral (Justus et
al., 2013).

2.5. Decision Making and Ownership

Women play important roles in the livestock value chains. When women own livestock, it
constitutes an important component of their asset portfolio, being an asset that they can
easily own and that is not bound by most of the legal and property rights issues such as
land (USAID, 2013). Chicken production in the home is mainly the business of the
10

women, who manage them freely and without any traditional feedback required of the
husband. This provides for a measure of economic security to the women in the house
(FAO, 2008a). According to a study conducted in Machako, Kenya, 57% of the local
indigenous poultry are owned by women, indicating the responsibility of taking care of the
indigenous local poultry likely to be done by women is 67% (Wanjugu, 2015). The same
author reported that women are the main decision makers (60%) regarding slaughter and
sale of the indigenous local poultry. The finding is consistent with Justus et al. (2013) who
reported that women were the majority (76%) with men representing only 24% of the
sampled farmers keeping indigenous chickens in Western Kenya. A study carried out by
Samson and Endalew (2010) in Mid Rift Valley, Oromia, Ethiopia also revealed that
majority of village chicken production (92.4%) was owned by women and children.

Though women are central in poultry keeping, they may be expected to consult men before
making decisions about the birds. Surveys carried out in some African countries revealed
that women are more involved in activities related to the poultry farming. However, the
management of poultry is generally not left to women alone. All household members
participate in the management of poultry. Thus, women are not usually the marketers of
chickens, especially when the place of sale is far from the house, men and children (boys)
being usually more involved in the marketing of live birds and their products. Men and
children are also responsible, to a large extent, for the construction of shelters (Gueye,
2007).

Division of labour among household members is another gender aspect that has to be
addressed. It was found that all gender groups are involved in poultry management.
Construction of shelters was mainly done by men, or by men and children. Results also
showed that, in Ethiopia, management of chickens was fully in the domain of women and
children. Women manage and prepare nests for laying and brooding, especially where
fostering of eggs or chicks was practiced (Alemu et al., 2008).
11

2.6. Smallholder Chicken Production and Management Practices

2.6.1. Feeding and watering

Egg production and the birds‟ growth are limited by access to feed and their genetic
potential. Local birds living in the villages are normally the best converters of feed to eggs
under fluctuating environmental conditions, although their production potential is much
lower than genetically improved breeds (Riise et al., 2004). In Ethiopia, in village poultry
production systems birds are usually kept under free range system and the major
proportion of the feed is obtained through scavenging. The major components of
Scavenging Feed Resource Base (SFRB) are believed to be insects, worms, seeds and plant
materials, with very small amount of grain and table leftover supplements from the
household (Tadelle and Ogle, 2000).

The assessment result of poultry feeding and watering by Desalew et al. (2013b) in Ada‟a
and Lume districts of East Shewa, Ethiopia indicated that the dominant system of poultry
feeding practiced in the study area is free scavenging with supplementary feeding and very
small proportion of commercial ration supplementation. This is in agreement with that of
Bosenu and Takele (2014) who reported the absence of purposeful feeding of rural
chickens in Ethiopia. According to Desalew et al. (2013b) information recorded for
frequency of watering revealed that about 96% of the respondents provided water with free
access in Ada‟a and Lume districts. Getu and Birhan (2014) also reported that nearly all
the respondents in the study area (North Gondar Zone) provide water ad libitum for their
chickens.

2.6.2. Housing

Poultry house protects chickens from predators, theft, rough weather (rain, sun, wind and
temperature) and provide shelter for egg layers and broody hens (Getu and Berhan, 2014).
Although no data are available about housing at national level, the local birds are set free
on free range whereby they move freely during the day and spend the night in the main
house. Overnight housing, perched in trees or on the roofs and overnight housing within
12

the main house are the common patterns of housing prevailing in the country (Mekonnen,
2007).

According to a study conducted in Haramaya district of Eastern Ethiopia (Bosenu and


Takele, 2014), about 77.5% of all the respondents share family dwellings with poultry.
Lack of separate housing is attributed to the small flock size, low priority given to chicken
and relatively high cost of poultry house construction. The study also showed that most of
the farmers in the study area are not aware of the importance of separate poultry house
construction from the point of view of productivity and bio-security. There is no well
recognized design for the construction of poultry house and most of the available poultry
houses are constructed from sorghum stalk and bamboo trees (Bosenu and Takele, 2014).
Mekonnen (2007) also reported that 97.6% of the respondents do not have separate house
for their chicken in Dale, Wonsho and Loka Abaya districts of Southern Ethiopia. On the
other hand, Desalew et al. (2013b) reported that the majority of respondents (91.11% in
Ada‟a and 95.6% in Lume districts) constructed a separate house entirely for poultry,
whereas from the total respondents who constructed separate poultry house only 35.6 and
25.6% constructed based on recommended extension package in Ada‟a and Lume districts,
respectively.

2.6.3. Chicken health management

Unlike in commercial set-ups many factors influence the health of smallholder chicken
populations. Such complex phenomena make it even more difficult to design improvement
strategies to overcome health constraints (Mapiye et al., 2008). Backyard poultry move
freely between families in the village. Movement can also be from household to local
market for sale, from market to household in case of unsold chicken or in form of gift from
household to household. This free movement of backyard poultry could contribute to the
transmission of many infectious diseases in the backyard system (Alemu et al., 2008). A
study carried out by Hunduma et al. (2010) indicates that 44% of farmers in Rift valley,
Oromia usually treat sick chickens using traditional medicine whereas others (41%) do
nothing. Only 11% of the respondents consult veterinarians when their chickens get sick.
According to Mekonnen (2007) most of the farmers (87.6%) use traditional remedies,
which usually administered through drinking water, whereas few (12.4%) use modern
13

medicine. The result revealed that farmers have limited access to regular veterinary
services.

2.7. Agricultural Extension Services

Village poultry production often encounters problems related to lack of organization,


which implies that local inputs, such as feed, medication, veterinary services, and training,
are rarely available locally. Without organization and knowledge about potentials of
village poultry, the absence of an enabling environment, the farmers, mostly women,
receive very little support and advice from each other or from extension workers. As a
consequence village-based small-scale poultry production remains rudimentary in most
places with low monetary profit (Riise et al., 2004; FAO, 2009).

In most extensive production systems, chicken production receive limited institutional


support services such as extension services, credit, veterinary services, training and
marketing of the products (Justus et al., 2013). According to Justus et al. (2013) less than
half of the farmers in Western Kenya have access to extension (42.5%) and veterinary
services (34.2%) during the survey period.

2.8. Marketing of Chicken and Chicken Products

Village poultry owners produce birds for consumption, for gifts, sacrifice and other
purposes, and not least for sale to earn cash during critical cash shortage time particularly
by poorer household. Market demand, structure, prices, trends and seasonality influence
income opportunities from poultry production (FAO, 2010). The informal marketing of
poultry and poultry products at open markets is common throughout the country and both
live birds and eggs are sold on road sides. Almost every little shop or kiosk sells table eggs
in Ethiopia. Most indigenous birds are sold live and consumers take considerable care to
ensure that they are buying healthy birds. Farmers may sell directly to clients at weekly
markets or farmers may sell to traders who in turn sell the product to the consumer.

Indigenous birds and eggs can be transported over long distances to supply urban markets
which results in deterioration in quality. Both eggs and live birds are transported either on
14

foot or using public transportation along with other bags, sacks of grains and bundles of
fire wood. The farmers directly sell their chickens to consumers and/or to small retail
traders who take them to large urban centers. At all the market areas, chicken buyers are
made up of traders, direct consumers, restaurants, farmers and small scale urban chicken
keepers. In the primary markets, producers are the predominant sellers, while in the
secondary markets both producers and traders sell chickens. In the terminal markets, small
traders are predominant sellers. Small traders operate on a very small scale and the volume
of trade ranges from 10 – 50 chicks (FAO, 2008b).

A study conducted in Ethiopia by Aklilu et al. (2007) indicated fluctuations across the
months of the year in sales as well as in consumption of both birds and eggs. The highest
bird sales and consumption overlapped with the major social and religious festivals of the
year. These are Ethiopian New year (September 11), Ethiopian Christmas (January 5),
Ethiopian Epiphany (January 19), Ethiopian Ester (April), and St. Mary‟s day (August)
(Aklilu et al., 2007). The authors also reported that the periods of low bird and eggs sales
and consumption coincided with the pre-Ester fasting period which lasts about two months,
from February through March. The other low sales and consumption period was pre-
Christmas fasting period.

2.9. Egg Quality Traits

Egg is one of the most nutritious foods available to man. It provides a balanced protein
which contains all the amino acids considered essential in sufficient amounts and
proportion to maintain life and support growth when used as a sole source of protein food
(Raji et al., 2009 citing Ricketts, 1981). Egg quality comprises a number of aspects related
to the shell, albumin and yolk and may be divided into external and internal quality (Kul
and Seker, 2004 cited by Raji et al., 2009). Both external and internal qualities of eggs are
of major importance to the egg industry worldwide. However, they are not being given due
attention in the developing world where the majority of the eggs are coming from free
scavenging village chickens as compared to that of the developed world (Aberra et al.,
2012).

Haugh Unit, a measure of albumin quality and therefore freshness of the egg, is determined
using the formula below (Raji et al., 2009):
15

HU = 100 log (H + 7.6 – 1.7W0.37), where: HU = Haugh Unit; H = Height of albumin; W =


egg weight (grams)

Study has shown in UK that there is a consumer resistance to purchase eggs which have
HU‟s below 60 (Niraj et al., 2014). Yolk colour is a key factor in any consumer survey
relating to egg quality (Okeudo et al., 2003 cited by Niraj et al., 2014). Halima (2007)
reported that the eggs collected from scavenging birds had a higher yolk color count
because scavenging birds have free access to green plants and other feed sources rich in
xanthophylls (plant pigment). According to Khan et al. (2004) cited by Niraj (2014) egg
shell thickness is an important trait for hatchability. For best result of hatchability egg shell
thickness should be between 0.33 and 0.35 mm and only few eggs with a shell thickness
less than 0.27 mm will hatch. Eggs are available in different shapes. These shapes can be
differentiated using shape index (SI). The shapes most often encountered are sharp, normal
(standard) and round eggs which are enumerated on the SI as <72, 72-76 and >76,
respectively (Niraj et al., 2014).

2.10. Major Constraints of Village Chicken Production

Keeping poultry makes a substantial contribution to household food security throughout


the developing world. It helps diversify incomes and provides quality food, energy,
fertilizer and a renewable asset in over 80 percent of rural households. Small scale
producers are however constrained by poor access to markets, goods and services; they
have weak institutions and lack skills, knowledge and appropriate technologies. The result
is that both production and productivity remain well below potential and losses and
wastage can be high (Sonaiya and Swan, 2004). Lack of market, shortage of labour and
feed, disease, predation, low production by local birds, neighbourhood conflict, damage of
garden and crops, theft, lack of knowledge (reproduction management), shortage of space
and housing, lack of financial and capital and effect on family members‟ health were the
constraints mentioned by farmers village poultry production (Aklilu, 2007).

2.10.1. Nutritional constraints

There is no planned feeding of chickens under traditional village production in Ethiopia


and scavenging is almost the only source of diet. The scavenging feed resource base for
16

local birds is inadequate and variable depending on season (FAO, 2008b). According to
Fesseha et al. (2010) shortage of feed both in quality and quantity is one of the major
constraints in village chicken production. Farmers had no clear idea in terms of the quality
and quantity of supplementary feeds (Getu and Berhan, 2014).

2.10.2. Disease and predation

Infectious diseases seriously affect village poultry production in Africa and therefore
constitute one of its major threats (Gueye, 1999). Newcastle disease is identified as the
major killer in the traditional system while other diseases including a number of internal
and external parasites contribute to the loss. The incidence of Newcastle disease is
widespread during the rainy season. It often wipes out the whole flocks when it strikes. In
particular, it was found that poultry production drops by 50% during the rainy season
(Alemu et al., 2008; Samson and Endalew, 2010; Getu and Birhan, 2014). The knowledge
of poultry diseases by producers is poor; the only disease which people were able to name
during interviews was Newcastle disease (NCD).

The use of traditional medicine in poultry is low; these have generally been replaced with
antibiotics such as tetracycline which is cheap and easy to find in local markets. A few
local medicines/treatments used for sick birds comprise mixtures of lemon and undefined
grasses and roots, but they are not recognized as being effective (FAO, 2008a). According
to a study conducted in Rift Valley of Oromia, Ethiopia, the major causes of death for
village poultry production are disease (mainly New Castle Disease locally known as
„„sombe/fengil‟‟), followed by predation (Hunduma et al., 2010). The occurrence of
diseases is seasonal where the highest chicken death rates was observed during the rainy
season (June to August) followed by March to May (Hunduma et al., 2010).

Bosenu and Takele (2014) also reported that disease and predations account for the largest
annual poultry losses in Haramaya district of Eastern Ethiopia. This is in agreement with
the report of Matiwos et al. (2013) who reported predation and disease as the most
important constraints in rural poultry production in Nole Kabba District, Western Wollega,
Ethiopia. The predators involved in chicken losses include eagles, hawk, crown, rats,
wildcats, monkey and dogs. On top of these there is lack of vaccination program and
knowledge about the causes and transmission of diseases (Bosenu and Takele, 2014).
17

2.10.3. Infrastructure and market constraints

Lack of organized marketing system and the seasonal fluctuation of price are the main
constraints of poultry market in Ethiopia (Mekonnen, 2007; Hunduma et al., 2010;
Matiwos et al., 2013). Bosenu and Takele (2014) reported that there is no formal poultry
and poultry product marketing channel in the study area and informal marketing of live
birds and eggs involving open markets are common throughout the district (Haramaya
district). The farmers directly sell their chicken to consumers and/or to small retail traders
who take them to large urban centers. Live chickens and eggs are sold either at the farm
gate, small village market (primary market) or at larger district market (secondary market
in the town) (Bosenu and Takele, 2014). According to Matiwos et al. (2013) almost all the
respondents interviewed in Nole Kabba District, Western Wollega, Ethiopia reported that
poultry and poultry product market price fluctuation is attributed to limitation in land
holding, disease occurrence and low purchasing power of the consumers.

According to Bosenu and Takele (2014) about 100% of the entire respondents carry their
chickens to market places either on foot or using public transportations causing physical
injury and other complications on the chickens which in turn reduce the quality of the
products. According to Aklilu et al. (2007) access to markets, highly determined by
distance to the market, influences poultry markets. With increasing market access, the
marketing chain between producers and consumers was shorter, which was associated with
higher prices for both live birds and eggs. It is clear that increased involvement of
intermediaries leads to reduced prices for the producer. There was a price reduction of 68%
for birds and 25% for eggs in the low-market-access location compared to the high-market-
access one (Aklilu et al., 2007). A further constraint to the marketing of traditional
household poultry and products is the fact that there is no packaging and weight
standardization of market eggs and the traditional storage methods can lead to deterioration
of the quality of table eggs (FAO, 2008b).

2.10.4. Social and cultural constraints

Religious festival days are associated with increased poultry consumption and sales and
fasting periods with decreased consumption. These patterns cause strong fluctuations in
prices of poultry products. In addition to the fasting periods, most strict orthodox Christian
18

households, especially in the rural areas, abstain from eating animal products on most
Wednesdays and Fridays except for about two months after Ester (Aklilu et al., 2007). The
market actors mentioned socio-cultural factors that influence the prices of individual birds
in markets. Consumers prefer brown birds, and pay higher prices for them. Black colour is
believed to bring bad fortune. White birds are considered agents of transmission of
(human) disease between households. Type of comb is also considered: double-combed
birds are preferred. Exotic birds such as White Leghorn, apart from being white, are not
selected for consumption because they are single-combed (Aklilu et al., 2007).

Another constraint is the social norm that determines ownership of livestock. Typically,
where crop farming is the men‟s main activity, keeping livestock is perceived as a
peripheral activity neglected to women and children. Practical experience indicates that
there were no regular watering and supplementing feed and they do not clean the birds‟
night shelter and take care of the young chicks. Farmers are also reluctant to expand
poultry farm. The farmers‟ attitude to the sector makes the rural traditional poultry farming
remain unchanged for a long time (Mekonnen, 2007).
19

3. MATERIALS AND METHODS

3.1. Description of the Study Area

The study was carried out in Kersa district of East Hararghe Zone, Oromia region of
Ethiopia. Kersa district is located between 41040‟0‟ and 41057‟30‟ (longitude) and
09015‟15‟ and 09029‟15‟ (latitude) about 485 Km towards East of Addis Ababa, the capital
of Ethiopia. Kersa is bordered on the south by Bedeno, on the west by Meta, on the north
by Dire Dawa, on the northeast by Haramaya, and on the southeast by Kurfa Chele
districts. There are 35 rural sub-districts (called Kebeles) and three small towns. The
administrative centre of the district is Kersa. The altitude of the district ranges from 1400 –
3200 masl, the monthly minimum average temperature is 12.0 0C, the maximum average
temperature is 24.2 0C and the monthly average rainfall is 65mm (range 0–301mm). As far
as the land use pattern of the district is concerned 28.5% is arable or cultivable, 2.3%
pasture, 6.2% forest, and the remaining 56.3% is considered built-up, degraded or
otherwise unusable. The 2007 national census reported a total population for this district is
170,816 of whom 86,134 were male and 84,682 were female; 11,387 or 6.67% of its
population were urban dwellers (KDS-HRC, 2015).

Figure 1. Map of the study district (Source: KDS-HRC)


20

3.2. Research Methodology

The study comprised of survey and egg quality examination of village chickens in three
agro-ecological zones (highland, midland and lowland) of the study area. The survey part
was accomplished through interview using pre-tested structured questionnaire and was
augmented with focus group and key informant discussions and direct field observations.
Egg quality evaluation was carried out using eggs collected from local chickens owned by
interviewed farmers and main market places in the study area.

3.2.1. Site selection and sampling technique

In the study a two stage purposive sampling [to select the agro-ecological zones and rural
kebeles (RK)] followed by a random sampling technique (to select the households) was
used. The district was stratified in to highland (>2500 masl), midland (1500-2000 masl)
and lowland (<1500 masl) agro-ecological zones. Six RK‟s out of 35 RK‟s in the district
(two RK‟s from each agro-ecology) were selected purposely from highland (Lencha
Wajira & Tola), midland (Mata Koma & Gola Wacho) and lowland (Baraka & Wolta
Bilisuma) agro-ecological zones, respectively, based on agro-ecology representation,
chicken production potential and accessibility. From each purposely selected RK, 20
households that keep local chickens were randomly considered for the study using a
systematic random sampling technique, thus, a total of 120 households were included in
the study. The three markets (Lange, Kersa and Woter) were considered because of their
importance in poultry marketing in the study area and representation of primary and
secondary markets. A random sampling technique was employed to select market
participants in the district, thus, a randomly selected sellers, buyers and intermediaries (a
total of 51 participants) were interviewed from each of the three selected market places and
market chain of village chicken and eggs in the district was mapped accordingly. During
site selection, active participation of experts from Zone and district Livestock and Fisheries
Resources Development offices was given a due attention.
21

3.2.2. Survey

The data for the study was collected from both primary and secondary sources. Primary
data was collected using both formal and informal methods. Individual interview using
pre-tested structured questionnaires was employed to generate relevant household level
data, and was augmented with focus group and key informant discussions and direct field
observations. The questionnaire was administered to the randomly selected households by
a team of enumerators trained and recruited for the purpose with close supervision by the
researcher. Enumerator selection was carried out by consultation of experts and local
authorities from Zone and District Livestock Resources Development offices in the study
area. To substantiate the information obtained from the formal interview, local agricultural
development agents (DA‟s), local leaders and poultry owners were also interviewed
informally to incorporate local knowledge on poultry production and marketing systems.
Secondary data was obtained from Zonal Livestock and Fisheries Resources Development
Department and district Office of Livestock and Fisheries Resources Development.

3.2.3. Egg quality

A total of 510 eggs (330 eggs from the studied agro-ecologies and 180 from three main
market places) were collected during the survey period for evaluating egg quality traits of
village chickens. Eggs were collected both from selected household farmers in each agro-
ecology and from three main market places in the district for egg quality examination
based on the population density of the poultry in each agro-ecology. The egg quality
analysis was conducted at Haramaya University laboratory. External egg quality traits such
as egg weight were measured using digital balance (g) and shell thickness (mm) using
Micrometer Gauge. The shell thickness was measured at three different points in the
equatorial shell and the calculated average of the three was used as a trait. Before
measuring shell thickness, shell membrane was removed carefully; the shell was cleaned
with tissue paper and air-dried at room temperature for 24 hours. To determine the internal
egg quality traits, individual egg was broken onto a flat surface. The thick albumen height
(AH) was measured at its widest part at a position half way between the yolk and the outer
margin using Tripod Micrometer. Yolk height was measured using Tripod Micrometer.
The yolks were carefully separated from the albumen. Albumen and yolk weight was
22

determined by weighing with electronic sensitive balance separately. The yolk color was
determined using the Roche Color Fan; a standard colorimetric system ranged 1-15, 1
representing pale yolk color and 15 deep yellow. Individual Haugh Units (HU) was
calculated from the two parameters; height of albumen (AH) and egg weight (EW) using
the formula: HU=100log (AH–1.7 EW0.37 + 7.6) (Haugh, 1937), where HU=Haugh Unit,
AH=Albumen height and EW=Egg weight. Proper handling and care was employed during
transportation of eggs using basket made of bamboo and bedded with cereal straw in order
to avoid physical damage and eggs were stored in egg tray until analysis. Egg quality
evaluation was carried out as soon as possible after egg collection.

3.3. Statistical Analysis

Qualitative and quantitative data sets were analyzed using appropriate statistical analysis
procedures. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, Ver. 16.0) and Statistical
Analysis System (SAS) version 9.2 were used for analysis. ANOVA hypothesis testing
procedures were employed to make comparisons among different groups. The descriptive
statistics for numerical survey data was subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) using
the general linear model procedure of SPSS to describe the fixed effect of agro-ecology.
Experimental data for egg quality determination were subjected to ANOVA using the
procedures of SAS procedure to analyze the fixed effect of agroecology and market place.

Statistical model for Survey: Yij = μ + Ai+ Єij

Where:
Yij – the value of respective variable
μ – Overall mean of respective variable
Ai – the fixed effect of agro-ecology on the respective variable
Єij – random error

Statistical model for egg quality parameters:

a) Fixed effect of egg source (Farm gate): Yij = μ + Fi+ Єij


Where:
23

Yij – the value of egg quality parameters


μ – Overall mean of respective variable
Fi – the fixed effect of farm gate on the respective variable
Єij – random error

b) Fixed effect of egg source (market place): Yij = μ + Mi+ Єij

Where:
Yij – the value of egg quality parameters
μ – Overall mean of respective variable
Mi – the fixed effect of market place on the respective variable
Єij – random error
24

4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

4.1. Socio-economic Characteristics of the Household Farmers

According to the information obtained from Kersa district office of Agriculture and Kersa
Demographic Surveillance and Health Research Center, the inhabitants of the study site
practice mixed farming (crop production and rearing of livestock). But small trade,
government employment and daily work are also means of living. Cereals like wheat,
barley, and vegetables like onion and garlic are the dominant crops produced in the
highland areas. Sorghum, maize, potatoes are dominant crops in the midland and lowland
areas. Khat (C. edulis) is the dominant cash crop produced in many of the midland and
lowland areas of the study site. Farming is generally seasonal, during the rainy season (mid
June to mid September), with the exception Handhura Kossum sub-district where irrigation
is common. Coffee is also an important cash crop produced in the district.

Demographic profile of village chicken owners in the study district is presented in Table 1.
The average age of respondents in the district was 37.5 years. A considerable portion
(60%) of the studied chicken owners was found between 31 to 40 years of age. The
remaining 11.7% and 25% of the respondents were aged 20-30, and 41-50 years,
respectively. A few (0.8% and 2.5%) of the interviewed farmers were <20 years and >60
years, respectively. Majority of the respondents (82.5%) in the study site were females,
males accounting for only 17.5% indicating that females are playing a prominent role in
poultry rearing and decision making. 87.5% of the respondents were married, while 4.2%,
6.6% and 1.7% of the respondents were unmarried, divorced and widowed, respectively.
Concerning educational background, 35% of the respondents attended primary first cycle
education (1-4). About 46.7% of the respondents had gone through primary second cycle
education (5-8), 4.2% attended secondary education (9-12) and the remaining 14.2% of the
interviewed farmers were illiterate. Majority of the respondents (95.8%) were male-
headed, while only 4.2% of them were female-headed.

Average family size in the district was 5.97 persons (6.07±0.29, 5.85 ±0.26 and 6.0± 0.28
persons in the highland, midland and lowland agro-ecologies, respectively) as presented in
Table 2. This figure is higher than the national average household size of 4.7 persons
25

(CSA, 2008) and lower than the mean family size of 6.2 reported by Getu et al. (2014) and
Fisseha et al. (2010). Average land holding in the area was 0.48 ha (0.46±0.15, 0.48±0.32
and 0.51±0.36 hectares in highland, midland and lowland, respectively) with no significant
difference between agro-ecologies. The result of the study was lower than the findings of
various authors (Mekonnen, 2007; Getu et al., 2014; Halima, 2007) who reported average
land holding of 0.86 ha, 3.55 ha and 1.28 ha, respectively, indicating the most fragmented
land holding pattern in the district. Livestock production is an integral part of the
livelihood of smallholders in the district. Regarding livestock holding average holding per
HH for cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys was 3.43, 2.1, 2.52 and 0.8, respectively (Table 2).
There was a significant difference among the agro ecological zones in the district interms
of cattle and sheep holding (P<0.05). However, significant difference was not observed in
goats and donkey holding per HH (Table 2).
26

Table 1. Demographic profile of sample farmers in Kersa district

Location
Overall
Agro-ecology Highland Midland Lowland (%)
Parameter N (%) N (%) N (%)
<20 1 (100) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0.8
20-30 7 (50) 4 (28.6) 3 (21.4) 11.7
Age 31-40 25 (34.7) 20 (27.8) 27 (37.5) 60
41-50 7 (23.3) 13 (43.4) 10 (33.3) 25
> 60 0 (0) 3 (100) 0 (0) 2.5
Male 3 (14.3) 13 (61.9) 5 (23.8) 17.5
Sex
Female 37 (37.4) 27 (27.3) 35 (35.3) 82.5
Unmarried 1 (20) 4 (80) 0 (0) 4.2
Married 38 (36.2) 28 (26.7) 39 (37.1) 87.5
Marital status
Divorced 1 (12.5) 7 (87.5) 0 (0) 6.6
Widowed 0 (0) 1 (50) 1 (50) 1.7
Grade 1-4 18 (42.8) 4 (9.6) 20 (47.6) 35
Educational Grade 5-8 17 (30.4) 21 (37.5) 18 (32.1) 46.7
Background Grade 9-12 2 (40) 3 (60) 0 (0) 4.2
Illiterate 3 (17.6) 12 (70.6) 2 (11.8) 14.2
Male-headed 40 (34.8) 35 (30.4) 40 (34.8) 95.8
Type of HH
Female-headed 0 (0) 5 (100) 0 (0) 4.2
N=number of household, HH= Household
27

Table 2. Household characteristics and livestock holding in Kersa district

Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Overall
Categories P[0.05]
(Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) mean
Family size 6.07±0.29 5.85 ±0.26 6.0± 0.28 5.97 0.85
Farm Size (ha) 0.46±0.15 0.48±0.32 0.51±0.36 0.48 0.42
Cattle 3.05±0.31b 2.7±0.19c 4.5±0.38a 3.43 0.00*
Sheep 2.4±1.90b 2.9±1.92a 1.0±1.94c 2.10 0.00*
Goat 1.9±3.75 2.43±0.12 3.17±0.25 2.52 0.06
Donkey 0.8±1.07 0.67±0.75 0.9±0.48 0.80 0.35
SEM=Standard Error of Mean. a-cMeans with different superscript within the raw are
significantly (P<0.05) different. *Significant at P<0.05

4.2. Chicken Flock Characteristics

The mean values of chicken flock structure in different agroecology and age category are
described in Table 3. The average chicken holding in the area was 9.92 and mean holding
per HH for hens, cocks, pullets, cockerels and young chicken was 3.34, 1.09, 1.58, 0.81
and 3.09, respectively, with no significant difference between agro ecological zones as far
as chicken holding per HH is concerned. A study conducted by Bosenu and Takele (2014)
indicated that the mean flock size per HH for cocks, hens, pullets, cockerels and chicks
was 1.12, 4.20, 2.13, 1.54 and 2.63, respectively, indicating that hens and chicks were the
dominant class of the flock in Haramaya district of Eastern Ethiopia. The mean chicken
holding in the study site was higher than the study result (6.23) reported by Meseret
(2010). However, a higher chicken size per HH (13.10 and 12.38) was reported by Fisseha
et al. (2010) in Bure and Fogera districts, respectively.

A mean flock size per HH of 9.2 was also reported by Mekonnen (2007) in Southern
Ethiopia. The result of the study showed that hens (33.7%) and young chicken (31.2%)
were the dominant class of chickens in the flock structure. This finding is in line with the
survey result of CSA (2014) in which hens and chicks accounted for 34.88% and 37.46%
of the national population, respectively. The same report (CSA, 2014) also indicated that
hens and chicks dominated the flock comprising of 41.55% and 29.25% of poultry
population in East Hararghe Zone, respectively.
28

Table 3. Village chicken flock structure in Kersa district


Agroeccology
Highland Midland Lowland Overall
Categories (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) mean P[0.05]
Hens 3.05±0.17 3.55±0.17 3.42±0.23 3.34 (33.7%) 0.06NS
Cocks 1.02±0.67 1.1±1.23 1.15±0.18 1.09 (11%) 0.79NS
Pullets 1.45±0.15 1.67±0.12 1.62±0.2 1.58 (15.9%) 0.58NS
Cockerels 0.87±0.81 0.75±0.15 0.8±0.10 0.81 (8.2%) 0.75NS
Young chicken 3.07±0.2 3.05±0.25 3.12±0.35 3.09 (31.2%) 0.98NS
Total (Mean) 9.46 10.12 10.11 9.92
SEM=Standard Error of Mean; NS=Not significant

4.3. Chicken Husbandry Practices

4.3.1. Poultry feeding and watering practice

Feed is the single most important factor that influences the productivity of chicken. It is
impossible to expect optimal production in the absence of adequate supply of the required
nutrients. The survey result of feeding practice of village chicken in the study district is
presented in Table 4. The majority of the respondents (91.7%) in the study area practiced
scavenging with supplementation while 8.3% of the respondents practiced only
scavenging. Similar result was reported by Desalew (2012) and Desalew et al. (2013b) in
Ada‟a and Lume districts of east Shewa where 98.2% of the respondents practiced
scavenging with additional supplement. Samson and Endalew (2010) also reported that
94% of the respondents in Mid Rift Valley of Oromia region practiced scavenging with
conditional supplementation. Bosenu and Takele (2014) also reported that all (100%) of
the respondents in Haramaya district of Eastern Ethiopia practiced scavenging system with
supplementary feeding.

Another study conducted in North Wollo, Amhara Region (Addisu et al., 2013) also
revealed that 89.8% of the chicken owners were found to keep their chicken in free range
type of production system with occasional supplementary feeds. 58.3% farmers in Western
Kenya adopted feed supplementations for indigenous chickens (Justus et al., 2013). 91.7%
of the respondents did not have feeding trough and only 8.3% had feeding trough made of
plastic (90%) and wood (10%). The owners (100%) provide a handful of local ingredients
29

as supplementary feed including maize, sorghum and wheat once a day. However,
provision of supplementary feed is highly dependent on the season of harvest and
availability of cereal grains. Source of supplementary feed for the chickens are crop
harvest and crop harvest with part of purchased grain for family consumption according to
50.9% and 49.1% of the respondents, respectively.

Watering practice in the district is presented in Table 5. Water plays a vital role in
transport of nutrients, metabolic reactions and elimination of wastes. The vast majority of
the respondents (93.3%) in the district provided water for their chicken. The remaining
(6.7%) did not provide water at all. 80% of the respondents provided water once a day and
20% twice a day. The result of the current study is in contrary with that of Desalew et al.
(2013b) who reported that 96.1% of chicken owners in Ada‟a and Lume district of east
Shewa provided water free access for chickens. Tesfu (2006) also reported that all of the
chicken owners provide water for the chicken. Farmers used various sources of water for
chicken based on the availability of water in their vicinity. Spring, river, underground
water, rain water and pond water were used as source of water for the chickens according
to 40%, 11.7%, 45%, 0.8% and 2.5% of the respondents, respectively. Most of the chicken
owners (79.1%) provide water using watering trough made of plastic. The remaining
22.1% and 1.8% provide using materials made of clay and wood, respectively.
30

Table 4. Feeding practices of village chicken in Kersa district


Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Overall X2 Sig.
Parameters Description N N N N (%)
Scavenging only 0 9 1 10 (8.3)
Feeding system Scavenging with
40 31 39 110 (91.7) 5.9 0.02
supplementation
Yes 0 10 0 10 (8.3)
Feeding Trough
No 40 30 40 110 (91.7) 8.18 0.02
Made of plastic 0 9 0 9 (90)
Types of feeding trough
Made of wood 0 1 0 1 (10) - -
Frequency of supplementing Once a day 40 40 40 120 (100)
By feeder 0 10 0 10 (8.3)
Mode of provision
Spreading on floor 40 30 40 110 (91.7) - -
Crop harvest 17 20 19 56 (50.9) 3.53 0.17
Source of supplements
Harvest and purchase 23 11 20 54 (49.1)
N=Number of respondents
31

Table 5. Watering practice for village chickens in Kersa district

Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Total
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%) X2 Sig.
Yes 40 (33.3) 34 (28.3) 38 (31.7) 112 (93.3)
Provision of water
No 0 (0.0) 6 (5.0) 2 (1.7) 8 (6.7) 7.5 0.24
Frequency of Once a day 30 (25.0) 32 (26.7) 34 (28.3) 96 (80.0) 1.2 0.53
watering Twice a day 10 (8.3) 8 (6.7) 6 (5.0) 24 (20.0)
Spring 30 (25.0) 15 (12.5) 3 (2.5) 48 (40.0)
River 0 (0.0) 7 (5.8) 7 (5.8) 14 (11.7)
Source of water Underground water 10 (8.3) 14 (11.7) 30 (25.0) 54 (45.0)
Rain water 0 (0.0) 1 (0.8) 0 (0.0) 1(0.8) 10.3 0.02*
Pond water 0 (0.0) 3 (2.5) 0 (0.0) 3 (2.5)
Made of plastic 23 (20.4) 29 (25.7) 34 (30.1) 86 (79.1)
Type of Made of clay 15 (13.3) 5 (4.4) 5 (4.4) 25 (22.1)
watering trough
Made of wood 2 (1.8) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 2 (1.8) 13.1 0.01*
*
N=Number of respondents. Significant at P<0.05
32

4.3.2. Poultry housing

Housing condition is one of the most important factors which influence the health
conditions, safety and productivity of chicken. In the present study, the birds are mostly
left to scavenge for feeds during the day and confined at night. All of the surveyed
households (100%) did not have separate poultry house and family members shared their
residencies with the chickens (Table 6). During the day, birds spend most of their time
scavenging around the family dwelling. Although birds are protected from predators, theft
and bad weather at night time, there is a risk of disease transmission as they share the same
dwelling with family and other domestic animals. Farmers described various reasons for
not constructing separate poultry house.

Majority of the respondents (60.8%) expressed the main reason for the absence of separate
shelter to be lack of awareness. Lack of attention (33.3%), risk of predators (4.2%) and risk
of theft (1.7%) are also other reasons reported by the remaining respondents in the study
site, respectively (Table 6). Birds were kept at various locations in the main house
including simple night perches, ceilings of the house and on the ground in the living room
according to 87.5%, 9.2% and 3.3% of the respondents, respectively. In contrary to the
current finding, Desalew et al. (2013b) reported that 91.11% and 95.6% of the respondents
constructed separate houses for poultry in Ada‟a and Lume districts of East Shewa,
respectively.

Halima (2007) reported that about 50.77% of chicken owners in northwest Amhara
provided separate sheds purpose-made for chickens. According to Fisseha et al. (2010),
22.1%, 59.7% and 3.4% of the respondents constructed separate houses entirely for the
chicken in Bure, Fogera and Dale districts of Ethiopia, respectively. The survey result is
consistent with the finding of Mekonnen (2007) who reported 97.6% of the respondents in
Dale, Wonsho and Lokka Abaya districts of southern Ethiopia did not have separate houses
for their chicken. Similarly Meseret (2010) reported that about 94.4% of the respondents in
Gomma district did not have separate houses for their chicken.
33

Table 6. Housing system of village poultry in Kersa district (% respondents)


Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Total
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%) X2 Sig.
Presence of separate Yes 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0)
poultry house No 40 (33.3) 40 (33.3) 40 (33.3) 120 (100) - -
Lack of awareness 25 (34.2) 21 (28.8) 27 (37) 73 (60.8)
Reason for absence
Lack of attention 15 (37.5) 14 (35) 11 (27.5) 40 (33.3)
of separate poultry
Risk of predators 0 (0.0) 3 (60) 2 (40) 5 (4.2) 8.27 0.22
house
Risk of theft 0 (0.0) 2 (100) 0 (0.0) 2 (1.7)
Night perch 40 (38.1) 27 (25.7) 38 (36.2) 105 (87.5)
Status of night time
sheltering On ceilings of the house 0 (0.0) 10 (90.9) 1 (9.1) 11 (9.2)
On the ground 0 (0.0) 3 (75) 1 (25) 4 (3.3) 12.84 0.04*
N=Number of responses. *Significant at P<0.05
34

4.3.3. Poultry diseases and health care

Results of chicken diseases and control measures in the study district are presented in
Table 7. The survey result showed that 95.8% of the interviewed chicken owners were able
to recognize the occurrence of poultry diseases which are the main causes for the loss of
chicken in the area. The awareness of the respondents in the highland (34.8%) and lowland
(34.8%) was significantly higher (X2= 10.43, P<0.05) than those in the midland (30.4%) in
terms of the occurrence of poultry diseases. The most dominant poultry disease in the area
was Newcastle disease (NCD) (locally perceived as Yedoro Beshita meaning: Poultry
disease) according to 94.2% (35.4% in the highland, 31.9% in the midland and 32.7% in
the lowland) of the respondents followed by Coccidiosis, according to 5.8% of the
respondents. There was no significant difference among agro-ecologies (X2= 3.94, P<0.05)
regarding prevalence of diseases in the district.

Studies conducted in different parts of the country by various authors (Halima, 2007;
Fisseha et al., 2010; Hunduma et al., 2010; Mekonnen, 2007 and Meseret, 2010) also
confirmed that NCD is the major cause of death for village chickens. Samson and Endalew
(2010) also indicated that disease accounted for 34% of chicken mortality in Mid-rift
valley of Ethiopia. A study carried out in Osun State of Nigeria also revealed that NCD
(47.37%) and Coccidiosis (26.32%) were the major diseases affecting poultry keeping in
the area (Adedeji et al., 2014). Regarding control measures, about 36.7% of the
respondents practiced traditional medicines which is higher than the finding reported by
Mamo (2006) who reported that 12.5% of the respondents in Jamma district of South
Wollo practiced traditional treatment to prevent poultry diseases. The most common
ingredients utilized by the interviewed farmers were lemon juice, garlic, green pepper, salt
and a mix of Gesho and water. Dessie et al. (2013) also reported that traditional treatments
against NCD and other diseases and parasites include a local alcoholic drink (arekie),
garlic, supper dip (Flavoured Instant Powder Drink), antibiotics such as tetracycline in
central and western highlands of Ethiopia though the treatments are not always effective.

The remaining 10.0%, 11.7% and 25.8% of the chicken owners in the area practiced
vaccination, treatment and hygiene, respectively. About 15.8% of the respondents didn‟t
take any control measure. There was a significant difference (X2= 1.28, P<0.05) between
35

the three agro-ecologies with respect to the control measures. Desalew (2012) reported that
50.6% (21.2% in Ada‟a and 80% in Lume districts) of the respondents in East Shewa used
vaccines to control poultry diseases. Predators are also mentioned by the interviewed
farmers and key informants in the district as the major causes for the loss of village
chicken next to diseases. The most common predators in the area include eagles, hawks,
fox, cat, dogs and wild cat (Shelemetmat). Another study conducted by Samson and
Endalew (2010) indicated that the main causes of chick mortality were birds of prey
(34%), cats and dogs (16.3%), wild animals (15%), diseases (34%) and accident (0.7%).
36

Table 7. Poultry diseases and health care practices in Kersa district


Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Total
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%) X2 Sig.
Yes 40 (34.8) 35 (30.4) 40 (34.8) 115 (95.8)
Occurrence of disease
No 0 (0.0) 5 (100) 0 (0.0) 5 (4.2) 10.43 0.06
Newcastle 40 (35.4) 36 (31.9) 37 (32.7) 113 (94.2) 3.94 0.14
Most prevalent diseases
Coccidiosis 0 (0.0) 4 (57.1) 3 (42.9) 7 (5.8)
Traditional method 11 (25) 9 (20.5) 24 (54.5) 44 (36.7)
Vaccination 3 (25) 8 (66.7) 1 (8.3) 12 (10)
Control measures Treatment 0 (0.0) 14 (100) 0 (0.0) 14 (11.7)
Hygiene 20 (64.5) 4 (12.9) 7 (22.6) 31 (25.8)
no control measure 6 (31.6) 5 (26.3) 8 (42.1) 19 (15.8) 18.28 0.02*
N=Number of respondents. *Significant at P<0.05
37

4.4. Production and Productivity Performance of Village Chicken

Results of production and productivity performance of local chicken in the study area are
presented in Table 8. Mean age at first egg in the study district was 7.35±0.06 months
(7.47, 7.15 and 7.43 months for highland, midland and lowland agro-ecologies,
respectively). There was no significant difference between the three agro ecologies on age
at first laying. The current finding was comparable with the result reported by Mekonnen
(2007) who reported the average age at first egg of 7.07 months in Dale, Wonsho and Loka
Abaya districts of Southern Ethiopia and higher than the mean age at first lay of 5.35
months reported by Mamo (2006) and the review conducted by Mamo (2012) which
revealed the average age at first egg laying of indigenous chicken ranging between 157 to
161 days.

Meseret (2010), Aberra et al. (2012) and Tesfu (2006) reported average age at first laying
of 6.33 months, 6.60 months and 6.69 months in Gomma district, Jimma Zone, Ethiopia, in
different agro-ecologies of Ethiopia and around the villages of Dire Dawa Town,
respectively which is lower than the finding of the current study. According to Dana et al.
(2006) birds attain egg laying age at 5 months in Lume, Ada and Akaki districts. Age at
first egg ranged between 5-6 months in south Tunisia (Larbi et al., 2013). Sonaiya and
Swan (2004) also reported that indigenous village birds in Ethiopia attain sexual maturity
at an average age of seven months (214 days) which is in agreement with the result of the
current study.

Mean clutches per year was 3.99±0.07 (4.15, 3.53 and 4.30 for highland, midland and
lowland agro-ecologies, respectively) with no significant difference among the studied
agro-ecologies. This is in agreement with the national average (4.00) reported by CSA
(2014) and a bit higher than the result reported by Fisseha (2009) who reported number of
clutchs per year of 3.83 for local chicken ecotypes in Bure district, north-west Amhara.
Meseret (2010) reported average number of clutches per year of 3.43 which is lower than
the current finding but higher than the result reported by Halima (2007) who reported a
maximum of 2 to 3 clutches/hen/year. The result of the current study is also higher than the
mean value of 3.67 reported by Tesfu (2006) and lower than mean clutches of 5.2 indicated
by Mamo (2006).
38

Mean clutch length in the study area was 19.77±0.17 days (19.80, 19.32 and 20.18 days for
highland, midland and lowland agro ecologies, respectively). There was no significant
difference between agro-ecologies in the study site although higher clutch length was
observed in lowland. Based on the report by CSA (2014) the national average length of
single egg laying period per hen is 21 days. The present study is higher than mean clutch
length of 16 days reported by Sonaiya and Swan (2004) and lower than 26.2 days reported
by Fisseha et al. (2010).

Average eggs per hen per clutch in the study area was 14.64±0.20 (16.03, 14.23 and 13.68
for highland, midland and lowland agro ecologies respectively). The result indicated that
there was a significant difference (P<0.05) between the three agro-ecologies in the study
area. This is higher than the national average of 12 eggs reported by CSA (2014).
Mekonnen (2007) also reported eggs per hen per clutch of 14.9 in Dale, Wonsho and Loka
Abaya districts of Southern Ethiopia which is inline with the current study. According to
Fisseha (2009) and Mamo (2006), average eggs per hen per clutch were 15.7 and 15.4 for
local chicken ecotypes of Bure district, North Amhara and Jamma district, South Wollo,
Ethiopia, respectively. It was also reported that the average number of eggs laid/clutch/hen
ranged between 10 and 18 (Samson and Endalew, 2010) and 9 and 19 (Halima, 2007),
respectively.

Mean eggs per hen per year in the district was 57.93±1.09 (66.00, 49.38 and 58.43 for
highland, midland and lowland agro ecologies, respectively). The average annual egg
production differs significantly among the three agro-ecologies. The result of the current
study is lower than the annual egg production of 60 eggs for Ethiopian indigenous chickens
(FAO, 2008a) and higher than the finding of Halima (2007) who reported the total number
of eggs produced ranged 18-57/hen/year in North West Ethiopia. Mekonnen (2007) also
reported mean eggs/hen/year of 55.2 which is lower than the present finding. Similarly,
total egg production per hen per year of 60 was reported by Fissseha (2009) in North West
Amhara, Ethiopia. Mamo (2012) reviewed that the average number of eggs produced per
year per bird to range between 45 and 96 for indigenous chickens under scavenging
system. The result is also higher than the finding of Meseret (2010) who reported mean
annual egg production of 43.8 eggs in Gomma district. But, the result of the current study
was much lower than the finding of Desalew et al. (2013a) who reported a mean annual
39

egg production of 276.1, 266.32 and 187.04 eggs for IB, BB and PK (improved chicken),
respectively.

The average hatchability in the district was 76.30±0.57% (75.60%, 77.92% and 75.38% for
highland, midland and lowland agro-ecologies, respectively). There was no significant
difference between the studied agro-ecologies in the district. Hatchability obtained in the
study area is higher than the hatchability of 70% for indigenous chickens reported by FAO
(2008a) and 22% by Meseret (2010). A higher hatchability performance of 89.1% was
reported by Mekonnen (2007). Dessie et al. (2013) also reported a higher hatchability of
78.1% and 90.0% in Horro and Ada‟a districts, respectively. Similar result was reported by
Fisseha et al. (2010) who reported that hatchability performance of local chickens in Bure,
Fogera and Dale districts of Ethiopia were 82.6%, 78.9% and 89.1%, respectively. Mean
chick mortality (%) in the highland; midland and lowland were 45.05, 41.13 and 42.95,
respectively (overall chick mortality for the district was 43.04±0.48%) with a significant
difference (P˂0.05) among the three agro-ecologies in the district. The result is lower than
the finding reported by Mekonnen (2007) who reported chick mortality (<2m) of 55.8%.
Moreover, chick mortality rate of 24-56% was reported by Fisseha et al. (2010).

Table 8. Production and productivity performance of village chicken in Kersa district


Agroecology
Overall
Parameter Highland Midland Lowland mean SEM P[0.05]
Age at first egg /month/ 7.47 7.15 7.43 7.35 0.06 0.65ns
Clutches per year 4.15 3.53 4.30 3.99 0.07 0.32ns
Clutch length /days/ 19.80 19.32 20.18 19.77 0.17 0.78ns
Eggs/hen/clutch 16.03a 14.23b 13.68b 14.64 0.20 0.03
a c b
Eggs/hen/year 66.00 49.38 58.43 57.93 1.09 0.01
Hatchability (%) 75.60 77.92 75.38 76.30 0.57 0.12ns
Chick mortality (%) 45.05a 41.13b 42.95b 43.04 0.48 0.03
a-c
=Means with different superscript within the raw are significantly (P<0.05) different;
ns=not significant
40

4.5. Ownership, Decision Making and Division of Household Labor

Chicken production in the home is mainly the business of the women, who manage them
freely and without any traditional feedback required of the husband (FAO, 2008a). Despite
all the regional differences in smallholder poultry production, one observation seems to
remain the same, whether talking of smallholder households in Africa, Asia or Latin
America – namely that the day-to-day management of poultry is undertaken by women,
often with assistance from their children (FAO, 2010). Village poultry in the district were
predominantly possessed by women (98.3%) and only 1.7% was owned by children (Table
9). Men had no role in the ownership of rural poultry in the district attributed to the
traditional belief in the community that possession of poultry by men is considered to be a
taboo. Chicken management was also mainly the business of women (71.7%), limited role
to be played by men (10%) and children (18.3%) in this regard.

Chicken and egg marketing in the area was the responsibility of women and children
according to 85.8% and 14.2% of the respondents, respectively. Women had a decisive
role in the area with respect to decision making in matters regarding village poultry.
Majority of the respondents (96.7%) indicated that decision making was the responsibility
of women only 3.3% mentioned that it was the responsibility of children. Dana et al (2006)
reported that females have significant contribution (55%) than the contribution of males
(45%) and in some cases all the activities were fully handled by females. Dessie et al.
(2013) also indicated that women and girls have greater responsibilities compared to men,
being involved in house cleaning, feeding, watering, and selling of birds and eggs.

According to a study conducted in Machako, Kenya (Wanjugu, 2015), 57% of the local
indigenous poultry are owned by women, indicating the responsibility of taking care of the
indigenous local poultry likely to be done by women is 67%. The same author reported that
women are the main decision maker (60%) regarding the slaughter and sale of the
indigenous local poultry. The finding is consistent with Justus et al. (2013) who reported
that women were the majority (76%) with men representing only 24% of the sampled
farmers keeping indigenous chickens in Western Kenya. A study carried out by Samson
and Endalew (2010) in Mid Rift Valley, Oromia, Ethiopia also revealed that majority of
village chicken production (92.4%) was owned by women and children.
41

Table 9. Decision making, chicken ownership and division of household labor in Kersa district
Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Total
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%) X2 Sig.
Women 38 (32.2) 40 (33.9) 40 (33.9) 118 (98.3)
Ownership Men 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 4.06 0.13
Children 2 (100) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 2 (1.7)
Women 29 (33.7) 29 (33.7) 28 (32.6) 86 (71.7)
Chicken management Men 5 (41.7) 4 (33.3) 3 (25) 12 (10) 1.16 0.85
Children 6 (27.3) 7 (31.8) 9 (40.9) 22 (18.3)
Chicken and egg Women 37 (35.9) 35 (34) 31 (30.1) 103 (85.8) 3.83 0.14
marketing Children 3 (17.6) 5 (29.4) 9 (52.9) 17 (14.2)
Women 40 (34.5) 37 (31.9) 39 (33.6) 116 (96.7)
Decision making Children 0 (0.0) 3 (75) 1 (25) 4 (3.3) 3.62 0.16
Total 40 (33.3) 40 (33.3) 40 (33.3) 120 (100)
N=Number of respondents
42

4.6. Purpose of Keeping Chicken

The results on purpose of poultry keeping in the study district are presented in Table 10.
Sale, home consumption and stock replacement were the major reasons cited by the
interviewed farmers for keeping chicken in the district. Majority of the respondents
(92.5%) in the study area kept their chicken for sale as an immediate source of cash for
basic household necessities of the owners. 84.2% and 40.8% of the respondents also
highlighted that they kept chicken for home consumption and stock replacement,
respectively. On the other hand, eggs were used for hatching, sale and home consumption
according to 86.7%, 52.5% and 31.7% of the respondents, respectively. Mekonnen (2007)
reported that the main objective of chicken production in Southern Ethiopia was for sale
(44%) followed by replacement and consumption which accounted for 34% and 22%,
respectively. According to Mammo (2006), majority (46.2%) of the poor households in
South Wollo kept poultry for sale. Similar result was also reported by Matiwos et al.
(2013) indicating a remarkable portion of the total respondents (50%) kept poultry as a
source of family income. Home consumption and income generation was also reported by
Wondu et al. (2013) as the main objective of keeping poultry by 82% of the respondents.

Table 10. Purpose of keeping chicken in Kersa district (% respondents)


Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Overall
Purpose Response N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%)
Live chicken
Yes 37 (92.5) 36 (90) 38 (95) 111 (92.5)
Sale
No 3 (7.5) 4 (10) 2 (5) 9 (7.5)
Yes 32 (80) 34 (85) 35 (87.5) 101 (84.2)
Home consumption
No 8 (20) 6 (15) 5 (12.5) 19 (15.8)
Yes 14 (35) 18 (45) 17 (42.5) 49 (40.8)
Stock replacement
No 26 (65) 22 (55) 23 (57.5) 71 (59.2)
Eggs
Yes 31 (77.5) 37 (92.5) 36 (90) 104 (86.7)
Hatching
No 9 (0.0) 3 (7.5) 4 (10) 16 (13.3)
Yes 24 (60) 21 (52.5) 18 (45) 63 (52.5)
Sale
No 16 (40) 19 (47.5) 22 (55) 57 (47.5)
Yes 13 (32.5) 14 (35) 11 (27.5) 38 (31.7)
Home consumption
No 27 (67.5) 26 (65) 29 (72.5) 82 (68.3)
N=Number of responses
43

4.7. Agricultural Extension Services

Producers lack access to information on “best practices” for village poultry operations and
also lack opportunities to build business skills (USAID, 2010).The survey result revealed
that about 80.8% of the farmers in the area had access to agricultural extension services
(Table 11). Chicken owners in the midland had better access for extension services
(35.1%) than those in highland (32%) and lowland (33%). About 19.2% of the interviewed
respondents in the district had no access to extension services (39.1% in the highland,
26.1% in the midland and 34.8% in the lowland) attributed to lack of awareness (82.6%)
and lack of access to DA‟s (17.4%).

Agricultural extension services were delivered at different locations (DA‟s office,


demonstration site, seminars and farmers‟ house according to 56.7%, 13.4%, 6.2% and
23.7% of the respondents, respectively). Majority of the farmers (90.9%) received the
service every month, while the remaining 9.1% received every 15 days. Halima (2007)
reported that 52.51% of the farmers in Northwest Ethiopia received agricultural extension
services. A study conducted in Western Kenya (Justus et al., 2013) revealed that 42.5% of
the smallholder farmers had access to extension. A lower proportion (37.5%) of extension
service was reported by Fisseha (2009) in Bure district of North Amhara.
44

Table 11. Agricultural extension services in Kersa district (%respondents)


Agroecology
Highland Midland Lowland Total
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%) N (%) X2 Sig.
Access to extension Yes 31 (32) 34 (35.1) 32 (33) 97 (80.8)
services No 9 (39.1) 6 (26.1) 8 (34.8) 23 (19.2) 0.75 0.68
Location of service DA‟s office 17 (30.9) 20 (36.4) 18 (32.7) 55 (56.7)
demonstration site 2 (15.4) 9 (69.2) 2 (15.4) 13 (13.4)
Seminars/meeting 5 (83.3) 0 (0.0) 1 (16.7) 6 (6.2) 16.97 0.09
Farmers house 7 (30.4) 5 (21.7) 11 (47.8) 23 (23.7)
Frequency of service Every 15 days 4 (44.4) 4 (44.4) 1 (11.1) 9 (9.1) 2.09 0.36
Every month 29 (32.2) 30 (33.3) 31 (34.4) 90 (90.9)
Reason for lack Lack of awareness 8 (42.1) 4 (21.1) 7 (36.8) 19 (82.6)
of extension service Lack of DA 1 (25) 2 (50) 1 (25) 4 (17.4) 1.44 0.48
N=Number of respondents
45

4.8. Village Chicken and Egg Marketing

4.8.1. Profile of the market participants

Details of the market participants in the three sample markets are presented in Table 12.
64% of the respondents were females and males constitute 36% of the interviewed actors
in the markets. 80% of the respondents were married, whereas 10% and 10% of the
respondents were unmarried and divorced, respectively. Concerning educational
background, 20% of the respondents were able to read and write. About 10% of the
respondents attended primary education (1-6), 34% attended secondary education (7-12)
and the remaining 36% of the interviewed farmers were illiterate. Market was the sole
source of information (100%) for producers, consumers and traders. All (100%) of the
respondents also indicated that they sell chicken when immediate HH cash income is
needed.

Table 12. Profile of the market actors in Kersa district


Market place
Lange Kersa Woter
Parameter Description N (%) N (%) N (%)
Female 11 (34.4) 11 (34.4) 10 (31.2)
Sex
Male 4 (22.2) 8 (44.4) 6 (33.3)
Local 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0)
Market type
Urban 15 (30) 19 (38) 16 (32)
Single 1 (20) 2 (40) 2 (40)
Marital status Married 12 (30) 15 (37.5) 13 (32.5)
Divorced 2 (40) 2 (40) 1 (20)
Illiterate 8 (44.4) 5 (27.8) 5 (27.8)
Educational Reading & Writing 2 (20) 4 (40) 4 (40)
background Grade 1-6 2 (40) 2 (40) 1 (20)
Grade 7-12 3 (17.6) 8 (47.1) 6 (35.3)
Neighbours 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0)
Source of information
Market 15 (30) 19 (38) 16 (32)
Reasons for
selling chicken HH income needs 15 (30) 19 (38) 16 (32)
N=Number of respondents; HH=Household
46

4.8.2. Marketing characteristics of the study district

The district is characterized by absence of formal and organized market channel for poultry
and eggs. The common markets prevailing in the district were informal markets where
chicken and eggs sold in open markets. Majority (76.9%) of the respondents in the area
sold their chicken in small markets (primary markets) in the village either to local
consumers directly or small traders (collectors) who take chickens and eggs to secondary
market (district market at Kersa town or nearby Haramaya town, and big markets in Dire
Dawa and Harar town) and resold to urban consumers or hotels and restaurants in big
cities. In rare circumstances, chickens were also sold to wholesalers who transported them
to tertiary/terminal market (Addis Ababa). The remaining 7.7% and 15.4% of the
respondents sold at farm gate to local consumers or small collectors/kiosks and secondary
market (district market), respectively (Figure 2). The predominant means of transport for
chicken to market in the study area was carrying by hand (71.2%) followed by trekking by
animal (7.6%) and using public transport (cars and Bajaj) (21.2%) as presented in Table
13. Death of chicken during transport was occurred according to 16 % of the respondents.
The result of the current study clearly showed a considerable difference in prices of
chicken and eggs at different locations and seasons of the year.

Concerning market prices of chickens and eggs at different market places and seasons, no
significant difference was found between the three sample market places (Table 14). Since
there was a remarkable involvement of intermediaries prices varied considerably at
different locations (farm gate, primary market and secondary market). The farther the
market, the higher the price for both chickens and egg. Price difference was also observed
among market places based on proximity of market places to the producer. Prices of
chickens and eggs around Kersa market were higher than the prices around Lange and
Woter market places (primary markets) since Lange and Woter market places were the
nearest markets for the producer. Prices of chicken and eggs were higher during public and
religious holidays in the three market places, the higher prices registered during the
Ethiopian New Year followed by Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter), though there
was no significant difference among the three market places (Table 14).
47

Table 13. Marketing characteristics of poultry and poultry products in Kersa district
Responses
N Percent
Carrying by hand 47 71.2
Means of transport Trekking by animal 5 7.6
Public transport 14 21.2
Farm gate 5 7.7
Location of sale Primary market 50 76.9
Secondary market 10 15.4
Death during Yes 8 16
travel No 42 84
N=Number of responses

Table 14. Prices of eggs and chicken in different markets and seasons in Kersa district

Market (N=51)
Lange(N=17) Kersa(N=17) Woter(N=17)
Price (ETB) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) Sig.
Live Chicken (Adult)
Farm gate 65.58±1.29 67.35±1.00 65.88±1.3 0.52
Primary market 81.67±3.34 82.37±3.25 81.67±3.45 0.98
Secondary market 142.33±6.40 141.33±6.19 146.33±6.17 0.85
Egg
Farm gate 2.08±0.08 2.18±0.11 2.19±0.06 0.35
Primary market 2.75±0.00 2.75±0.00 2.77±0.25 0.18
Secondary Market 3.50±0.00 3.50±0.00 3.50±0.00 -
Live Chicken (Adult)
Christian holiday 99.17±1.73 98.82±1.19 95.29±1.09 0.81
Muslim holiday 79.75±1.23 79.11±1.09 78.82±1.02 0.86
Ethiopian New Year 106.76±1.78 108.23±1.53 114.70±1.89 0.64
Any other time 78.52±0.68 83.52±0.83 81.76±0.71 0.13
Egg
Christian holiday 3.04±0.06 3.09±0.08 3.01±0.01 0.77
Muslim holiday 3.01±0.06 3.02±0.07 3.04±0.06 0.77
Ethiopian New Year 3.07±0.08 3.05±0.08 3.06±0.06 0.77
Any other time 2.51±0.06 2.52±0.08 2.51±0.06 0.74
N=Number of respondents; SEM=Standard Error of Mean; ETB=Ethiopian Birr
48

4.8.3. Prices of chicken and eggs

A number of factors existed in the study district that could affect the prices of chicken and
eggs (Table 15). Religious festivals were the major factors that determine the price of eggs
in the three sample market places. The other factors mentioned by the respondents were
holidays and fasting, seasonal demand and supply and demand with no significant
difference between the three market places regarding the above mentioned factors. Various
factors affecting the price of chicken were also reported by the interviewed respondents in
the market places. The dominant factors mentioned by the respondents were seasonal
demand, sex of the birds, size of the birds, age of the birds and health status of the birds
with no significant difference among the market places.

Table 15. Determinant factors affecting prices of eggs and chicken in Kersa district (%
respondents).

Market (N=51)
Factors Lange Kersa Woter X2 P[0.05]
Egg
Religious festivals 97.8 93.6 95.3 1.03 0.79
Holidays and fasting 85.3 77.9 82.3 1.59 0.89
Seasonal demand 74.1 76.3 72.4 2.41 0.42
Supply and demand 61.7 65.9 66 3.66 0.31
Chicken
Seasonal demand 99.8 98.6 98.3 1.1 0.63
Sex 95.3 97.9 92.3 1.69 0.40
Size 89.1 86.3 92.4 2.01 0.38
Age 88.9 82.7 84.2 2.32 0.27
Health 81.7 85.9 86 2.9 0.20

4.8.4. Marketing constraints

Major constraints related to marketing of chicken and eggs in the studied sample markets
are presented in Table 16. Majority of the respondents in the market places disclosed that
price fluctuation, demand seasonality, involvement of middle men and disease outbreak
were the leading constraints influencing marketing of eggs and chicken with no significant
difference between the three market places. Lack of information and limited market access
49

were also constraints reported by the interviewed market participants regarding marketing
of chicken and eggs. The result of the current study was in line with the findings of various
authors who reported seasonal fluctuation of price (Matiwos et al., 2013; Hunduma et al.,
2010 and Mekonnen, 2007), access to market (Aklilu et al., 2007), involvement of
intermediaries (Aklilu et al., 2007) and lack of information (Mekonnen, 2007) as the major
constraints that influence marketing of poultry and poultry products. Moreover, lack of
organized marketing system was reported by Mekonnen (2007), Matiwos et al. (2013),
Hunduma et al. (2010) and Bosenu and Takele (2014). Absence of packaging and weight
standardization of market eggs as a marketing constraint was also reported by FAO
(2008b).

Table 16. Marketing constraints of live chicken and eggs in Kersa district (% respondents)

Market (N=51)
Factors Lange Kersa Woter X2 P[0.05]
Price fluctuation 99.8 97.6 98.3 1.63 0.71
Demand seasonality 96.3 95.9 94.3 1.09 0.69
Involvement of intermediaries 94.1 96.3 92.4 2.81 0.47
Disease outbreak 87.7 89.5 86 3.46 0.30
Lack of information 54.6 58.3 50.6 4.01 0.25
Limited market access 50.8 51 50 3.98 0.21

Farmers in the study area did not receive fair price for their produce as they had no access
to permanent market places and lack of formal and organized market in the village. All the
market places in the district did not have any infrastructure; poultry and eggs were sold
together with other commodities. Involvement of various actors in the market chain
resulted in long marketing channel for poultry and eggs. This resulted in reduced price for
the producers in the district. The result of the current study is in agreement with Aklilu et
al. (2007) who observed that increased involvement of intermediaries leads to reduced
prices for the producer. Similar result was also reported by Fisseha et al. (2010) who
indicated the involvement of middlemen in the marketing channel. On the other hand,
Dawit (2010) reported a shorter market channel for both poultry and eggs in Alamata and
Atsbi-Wonberta districts of Tigray region.
50

Producers

Collectors (small Local


Small traders
kiosks) at farm gate consumers
(collectors) in
in the
primary market
village
(small market in
the village)

Collectors/consumers at
Consumers/Hotels & secondary market
Restaurants in big cities (Intermediate market) in
(Harar and Dire Dawa) district (Kersa) town or
Woter and Haramaya
town

Consumers in
Tertiary/terminal
market (Addis Ababa)

Live chicken
Eggs
Figure 2. Marketing channels of chicken and eggs in Kersa district
51

4.9. Egg Quality Traits

Both external and internal qualities of eggs are of major importance to the egg industry
worldwide. However, they are not being given due attention in the developing world where
the majority of the eggs are coming from free scavenging village chickens as compared to
that of the developed world (Aberra et al., 2012). The mean values of different parameters
concerning egg quality traits in the three agro-ecologies of the study district are shown in
Table 17. The overall mean egg weight in the district was 41.95g with a statistically
significant difference (P<0.05) between the studied agro-ecologies. Eggs collected from
midland (42.40±0.39g) were heavier than those of highland (42.10±0.25g) and lowland
(41.34±0.38g) agro-ecologies which might be attributed to better access to feed resources
such as grains and cereals. A higher egg weight of 58.75g, 60.27g and 48.84g was reported
by Desalew (2012) and Desalew et al. (2013a) for Isa Brown (IB), Bovan Brown (BB) and
Potchefstroom Koekoek (PK), respectively, for exotic chickens under village production
system in East Shewa, Ethiopia. Similarly, Niraj et al. (2014) reported a higher egg weight
of 55.56g and 50.91g for Rhode Island Red (RIR) and Bovans White (BW), respectively,
under intensive management in Mekelle, Ethiopia. Furthermore, a higher egg weight of
57.78±0.20g was reported by Rath et al. (2015). On the other hand, a lower mean egg
weight of 39.60g and 38.65g were also reported by Aberra et al. (2012) and Halima
(2007), respectively.

The average shell thickness for highland, midland and lowland were 0.29±0.01mm,
0.30±0.00 mm and 0.29±0.01mm, respectively with the mean shell thickness for the
district of 0.29 mm (Table 17). The result of the analysis was similar to 0.296 mm reported
by Aberra et al. (2012) but lower than the finding (0.32±0.00mm) of Rath et al. (2015).
Moreover, Fisseha et al. (2010) reported an average shell thickness of 0.26 mm and 0.45
mm in Bure and Fogera districts, respectively. Mean albumin height in the highland,
midland and lowland were 4.41±0.08 mm, 5.62±0.12 mm and 4.22±0.08 mm, respectively,
with an average albumin height of 4.75 mm for the district. There was a significant
difference between the midland agroecology and the rest two, but there was no significant
difference between highland and lowland agro-ecologies. Average yolk height (mm) in the
district was 14.91 (14.77±0.10, 15.40±0.11 and 14.57±0.13 in the highland, midland and
52

lowland agro-ecologies, respectively). Similarly, a statistically significant difference was


found between the midland agroecology and the remaining two agro-ecologies.

Mean albumin weight, yolk weight and egg shell weight in the district were 21.16g, 14.86g
and 4.50g, respectively, with a statistically significant difference among agro ecologies.
Average yolk diameter in the area was 3.91 mm (Table 17). The result of the current study
for albumin weight was comparable with the findings of Meseret (2010) and Halima
(2007) who reported a mean albumin weight of 22.60g and 21.69g, respectively. However,
a higher albumin weight (g) (33.05±2.77 and 30.48±2.56) was reported for RIR and
Bovans White chickens, respectively, under intensive management in Mekelle, Ethiopia
(Niraj et al., 2014). The yolk weight obtained in the study area was lower than the finding
of Desalew (2012) who reported mean yolk weight (g) of 16.14±1.89, 15.97±1.77 and
15.90±3.57 for IB, BB and Koekoek (improved exotic chicken), respectively, in Ada;a and
Lume districts. The average egg shell weight (g) recorded in the district was lower than the
findings of various authors who reported mean egg shell weight of 5.20 for RIR (Niraj et
al., 2014), 5.00 (Halima, 2007), 5.52 in Fogera district (Fisseha et al., 2010) and 5.03 for
BW (Niraj et al., 2014). But, a lower egg shell weight (g) value of 2.3 was reported by
Fisseha et al. (2010) in Bure district.

The colour of the egg yolk is mainly dependent on the type of ration and the management
systems of the chickens. The eggs collected from scavenging birds had a higher yolk
colour count because scavenging birds have free access to green plants and other feed
sources rich in xanthophylls (Halima, 2007). The overall mean yolk color count in the area
was 10.01(10.05±0.20, 10.53±0.22and 9.45±0.20 in the highland, midland and lowland,
respectively). Yolk colour did not differ significantly between highland and midland agro
ecologies but significant difference was found between lowland agroecology and the rest
of the two agro ecologies. The result of the current study was consistent with the mean
color count value of 10.79, 10.16 and 9.74 reported by Desalew (2012) for Koekoek (an
exotic chicken), Meseret (2010) and Desalew (2012) for IB, respectively. Moreover,
Aberra et al. (2012) and Halima (2007) reported mean colour count of 9.26 and 9.41,
respectively.

Average Haugh unit score in the district was 73.83 (71.30±0.67, 80.08±0.79 and
70.10±0.68 in the highland, midland and lowland, respectively). The calculated Haugh unit
53

was not significantly different between highland and lowland agro ecologies, but a
statistically significant difference was observed between the midland agroecology and the
remaining two agro ecologies (Table 17). The current finding was in agreement with the
mean Haugh unit value of 73.2 reported by Aberra et al. (2012). But, the result obtained
was lower than the Haugh unit score of 92.00±0.19 reported by Rath et al. (2015).
However, it was higher than the findings of Meseret (2010) and Halima (2007) who
reported average Haugh unit value of 54.50 and 68.88, respectively. Moreover, Desalew et
al. (2013a) reported mean Haugh unit value of 77.78, 81.68 and 76.57 for IB, BB and PK,
respectively.

Table 17. Egg quality traits of village chicken in three agro-ecologies of Kersa district
Agro-ecology
Highland Midland Lowland Overall
Parameter (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) mean
Egg weight 42.10±0.25ab 42.40±0.39a 41.34±0.38b 41.95
Shell thickness 0.29±0.01b 0.30±0.00a 0.29±0.01b 0.29
b a b
Albumin height 4.41±0.08 5.62±0.12 4.22±0.08 4.75
b a b
Yolk height 14.77±0.10 15.40±0.11 14.57±0.13 14.91
Albumin weight 21.17±0.27b 22.16±0.30a 20.14±0.33c 21.16
Yolk weight 15.66±0.23a 14.14±0.19b 14.79±0.28b 14.86
b a b
Shell weight 4.45±0.07 4.69±0.06 4.35±0.07 4.50
a b a
Yolk diameter 3.96±0.02 3.77±0.03 3.97±0.03 3.91
Yolk colour 10.05±0.20a 10.53±0.22a 9.45±0.20b 10.01
Haugh unit 71.30±0.67a 80.08±0.79b 70.10±0.68a 73.83
a-c
SEM=Standard Error of Mean. Means with different superscript within the raw are
significantly (P<0.05) different.

Measured values of most of the egg quality traits of eggs collected from the three market
places appeared to be lower as compared to fresh eggs collected from chicken owners in
the district (Table 18). The inferior quality of eggs in the market places could have been
attributed to prolonged storage, method of storage and mal-handling of eggs in the market
places (Appendix Figure 4). The eggs purchased from the market had lower values in all
the quality parameters investigated compared to the freshly collected eggs, indicating the
occurrence of egg quality deteriorations as a result of storage conditions and storage period
(Meseret, 2010). All the measured egg quality traits in the three market places did not
differ significantly at P<0.05 (Table 18).
54

Table 18. Egg quality traits of village chicken in the three market places of Kersa district
Market place
Lange Kersa Woter Overall
Parameter (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) (Mean±SEM) mean
Egg weight 38.57±0.64 38.68±0.65 37.93±0.70 38.39
Shell thickness 0.27±0.01 0.26±0.01 0.28±0.01 0.27
Albumin height 3.69±0.12 3.83±0.08 3.80±0.10 3.77
Yolk height 14.44±0.12 14.00±0.15 14.36±0.13 14.27
Albumin weight 18.49±0.46 19.12±0.45 18.57±0.48 18.73
Yolk weight 14.68±0.41 14.63±0.37 14.15±0.41 14.47
Shell weight 4.30±0.10 4.24±0.09 4.34±0.10 4.29
Yolk diameter 3.79±0.05 3.84±0.04 3.74±0.03 3.79
Yolk colour 10.58±0.29 10.68±0.32 10.87±0.33 10.71
Haugh unit 66.40±1.28 68.14±0.92 67.93±1.19 67.49
SEM=Standard Error of Mean
55

5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Backyard poultry production is an important component of the livelihoods of rural poor, it


is easily managed by the household labor and directly accessible to women. They provide
instant cash income for the family, hence, they are considered as an important asset
especially for the disadvantaged members of the community though they are not the sole
means of livelihood. Village poultry in the study area were a source of livelihood and
predominantly possessed and managed by women indicating the potential of the sector to
play a significant role for the resource-poor farmers. However, scant information is
available in the district regarding the productivity of the village chicken, the production
and marketing systems at which the indigenous chickens are exposed. This study was
conducted to characterize the prevailing production and marketing systems, the handling
and quality of eggs laid, and constraints associated with production and marketing systems
and thereby provide preliminary information for concerned stakeholders for future research
and development.

The inhabitants of the study site practiced mixed farming (crop production and rearing of
livestock). Average family size in the district was 5.97 persons. Majority of the
respondents (82.5%) in the study site were females, males accounting for only 17.5%
indicating that females are playing a prominent role in poultry rearing and decision
making. The current study also showed that village poultry in the district were
predominantly possessed (98.3%) and managed (71.7%) by women. Women were also
responsible for decision making (96.7%) on matters pertaining village poultry. Average
land holding in the area was 0.48 ha. Livestock production is an integral part of the
livelihood of smallholders in the district. Average holding per household for cattle, sheep,
goats and donkeys was 3.43, 2.1, 2.52 and 0.8, respectively.

The average chicken holding in the area was 9.92 and mean holding per HH for hens,
cocks, pullets, cockerels and young chicken was 3.34, 1.09, 1.58, 0.81 and 3.09,
respectively. The result of the study showed that hens and young chicken were the
dominant class of chickens in the flock structure, indicating the intention of farmers to
retain sustainable stock. Majority of the respondents (92.5%) in the study area kept their
chicken for sale as an immediate source of cash for basic household necessities of the
56

owners. 84.2% and 40.8% of the respondents also highlighted that they kept chicken for
home consumption and stock replacement, respectively.

Generally, husbandry practices by poultry owners in the district were suboptimal. The
predominant poultry production practice in area was traditional scavenging family poultry
system with only a handful of supplementation of locally grown and purchased grain
mainly maize, sorghum and wheat once a day. The majority of the respondents (91.7%) in
the study area practiced scavenging with supplementation while 8.3% of the respondents
practiced only scavenging. Supplementary feed provided for the chickens was inadequate
in terms of quantity and quality, to meet the nutrient requirement for production apart from
maintenance. The vast majority of the respondents (93.3%) in the district provided water
for their chicken.

The entire (100%) surveyed households in the area did not have separate poultry house and
family members shared their residencies with the poultry. Chickens were busy seeking
their food around the home with no guaranteed protection against bad weather, predators
and disease causing agents. In the traditional rural setting dominated by smallholder farms,
poultry have little shelter, are allowed to scavenge for feed, and are free to wander. This
system is cheap as little husbandry and few management skills are required. There are
considerable problems with this system, including slow growth and poor productivity
because of energy and protein deficiencies, poor bird genetics, losses because of predators
and theft and damage to gardens. The result of the study also revealed that Newcastle
disease (NCD) was the most dominant poultry disease affecting poultry keeping in the area
followed by Coccidiosis according to 94.2% and 5.8% of the respondents, respectively.
Farmers practiced various measures to control poultry diseases in the area. The most
common ingredients utilized by the interviewed farmers were lemon juice, garlic, green
pepper, salt and a mix of Gesho and water. Lack of access to veterinary services
contributed to loss of chickens to a greater extent according to the farmers during group
discussion with key informants.

Production performance of village chickens in the district was generally low as they
receive little attention by the owners. Mean age at first egg in the study district was
7.35±0.06 months, indicating that village chickens in district had longer age at first egg.
Average eggs per hen per clutch in the study area was 14.64±0.20 with annual egg
57

production of 57.93±1.09 eggs per bird. The result for annual egg production was one of
the lowest performances reported for village chickens in the country. The overall mean
hatchability (%) and chick mortality (%) in the district were 76.30±0.57 and 43.04±0.48,
respectively, which can be viewed as low as an attribute to the fact that village chickens in
the area has, so far, received little care.

Farmers in the district also received inadequate extension services from the government
organization. Chicken owners in the midland had better access for extension services
(35.1%) than those in highland (32%) and lowland (33%) on a monthly basis. But, none of
the farmers mentioned that the extension service provided was adequate to improve the
existing poultry production system in the area. The common markets prevailing in the
district were informal markets where chicken and eggs sold in open markets. The main
market actors in the district were producers, collectors (small traders), whole sellers and
consumers. Since there was a remarkable involvement of intermediaries prices varied
considerably at different locations (farm gate, primary market and secondary market). The
farther the market, the higher the price for both chickens and egg. Prices of chicken and
eggs were higher during public and religious holidays in the three market places, the higher
prices registered during the Ethiopian New Year followed by Christian holidays
(Christmas and Easter).

The overall mean egg weight in the district was 41.95g with a statistically significant
difference (P<0.05) between the studied agro-ecologies. Mean shell thickness for the
district was 0.29 mm with an average albumin height of 4.75 mm. Average yolk height
(mm) in the district was 14.91 and mean albumin weight, yolk weight and egg shell weight
in the district were 21.16g, 14.86g and 4.50g, respectively. The overall mean yolk color
count in the area was 10.01and average Haugh unit score in the district was 73.83. Most of
the traits measured in the area were of lower value compared to the findings of various
authors. This might be attributed to several factors including nutrition, environmental
temperature, time of storage, method of storage and age of birds among others.

In general, village chickens in the district showed low performance in terms of the most
important production traits, though a substantial opportunity remaining for improvement.
Therefore, based on the results of the study the following improvement options are
58

recommended in any attempt to move away from traditional scavenging family poultry
production system to the improved semi-intensive system :-
Interventions aimed at improving the productivity of village chicken should focus on
training and education of women, as most of the chickens are owned and managed by
women.
Strong extension service delivery is needed to boost up the existing sub-optimal
husbandry practice (feeding, watering, housing and health care) so as to improve the
productivity performance of village chicken. Training and technical support to both
farmers and extension staff on supplementary feeding, watering, housing and health
care should be provided.
Appropriate intervention is needed to control disease and predators so as to minimize
loss of chicken. Access to veterinary services would play an essential role in this
regard.
Improvement of market infrastructure in the area forming marketing group could help
farmers obtain optimum price for chicken and their products.
To improve egg quality attention should be paid to adequate nutrition, safe storage and
handling of eggs. Prolonged storage of eggs should be avoided in order to minimize
deterioration of quality.
Sound genetic improvement programs need to be designed to improve the genetic
merits of indigenous chickens coupled with improvement of the production
environment.
Further research should focus in the areas of adoption of farmer-friendly and low cost
technologies (improved housing and nutrition).
59

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65

7. APPENDICES
66

Annex 1. Questionnaire

Structured Questionnaire on village poultry production system, marketing and egg quality
traits in different agro-ecologies of kersa district; east hararghe zone, Ethiopia

I. Production Survey
1. General information
1.1. Name of respondent Age
1.2. PA (Kebele) _________________ Village (Got) __________________
1.3. Agro ecology a) Dega b) W/dega c) kolla
1.4. Altitude masl
2. House-hold Characteristics
2.1. Type of respondent a) HH Head b) Non HH Head
2.2. Sex of respondent a) Male b) Female
2.3. Marital status a) Married b) Single c) Divorced d) Widowed
2.4. Family size
2.5. Educational background of household head
a. Illiterate b. Reading & writing c. Grade 1-4 d. Grade 5-8
e. Grade 9-12 f. Above grade 12
3. Socio-economic characteristics of the household farmers
3.1. Total Farm Size ________ha
3.2. Major crops grown in the area (in the order of importance): 1
2. 3. 4. 5.

3.3.Livestock holding in the area ( House hold)

Category
Cattle Sheep Goats Donkeys Horses Mules
67

3.4 Flock Characteristics /Poultry/

Category
Young
Hens Cocks Pullets Cockerels chicks

4. Poultry Production system

4.1. Chicken Feed and Feeding and Watering

Presence
of
Feeding system Type of feeding trough
feeding
trough
Scavenging
Scavenging with plastic earthen wooden stone
alone supplementation Yes No made pot trough made

Frequency of feeding Mode of Provision


once a twice `every every spreading
day a day other day 3 days ad libtum By feeder on the floor

Presence of
Source of the Provision watering
supplementary feed of water trough Frequency of watering
harvest
Crop & once a twice
harvest market purchase Yes No Yes No day a day ad libtum
68

Source of water Type of watering trough


spring under rain pond plastic earthen wooden stone
water river ground water water made pot trough made

4.2 Poultry Housing

Presence of Reason for absence of


separate separate house
poultry house
Lack of Lack of Risk of Risk of Lack of cons
Yes No awareness attention predators theft material

status of night time sheltering


in the absence of separate house
Night perch
inside the On ceilings On the
house of the house ground Veranda

4.3 Poultry disease and health care

Occurrence of
disease
Most prevalent disease in the area
Infectious External Other
yes no Newcastle Coccidiosis bronchitis parasites diseases
69

Control measures
Traditional culling/ no control
method vaccination treatment hygiene sold measure

5. Production and Productivity of indigenous chicken

Productivity parameter
Chick
clutch mortality
Age at 1st clutches/ length eggs/hen eggs/hen Hatchability (<2m)
lay (month) year (days) /clutch /year (%) (%)

6. Purpose of keeping poultry

Purpose of Keeping Chicken Purpose of Eggs


for home stock traditional home
sale consumption replacement ceremony hatching for sale consumption

7. Ownership, decision making and division of labour

Ownership Chicken management


All All
Women Men Children family Women Men Children family
70

Marketing/selling of Marketing/selling of
Chicken Eggs Decision making

Women Men Children Women Men Children Women Men Children

8. Agricultural extension services

Access to
extension
service Location of the service
DA's demonstration seminars/ farmers' churches/
Yes No office sites meetings houses mosques

Reason for lack of


frequency of the service extension service
every lack of
everyday every week every 15 days month awareness lack of DA

II. Chicken and Egg Marketing

Name of Enumerator __________ Signature ________ Date _______


1. General information / For Egg and Chicken Traders/
1.1. Name of respondent (Trader) ______________________
1.2. P.A __________________ Market name ____________________
1.3. Market type a. Local (rural) market b. Urban market
1.4. Agro ecology a. Dega b. W/dega c. Kolla
1.5. Sex of trader a. Male b. Female
1.6. Age of trader _________ years a. < 18 years b. 18-30 years c. 31-40
years d. 41-50 years e. >51 years
1.7. Marital Status a. Married b. Single c. Divorced d. Widowed
71

1.8. Educational status a. Illiterate b. Reading and Writing c.


Grade 1-6 d. Grade 7-12 e. Above Grade 12
2. What is your major source of information about the price of chicken and eggs?
A. Neighbours B. Market C. Extension workers D. Media
3. Reasons for selling chicken

Reasons for selling chicken


Household Disease For culling
income needs outbreak purpose

4. Location (where chicken and eggs sold)

Location (where chicken sold)


Farm gate Primary market Secondary
market

5. Mode of transportation

Death of chicken
Mode of transportation during transportation
Embracing Hanging Trekking by Public
by hand by hand animal transportation Yes No

6. Distance travelled to markets (average)


6.1 To primary market KM
6.2 To secondary market KM
7. Prices of chicken at different location
Location Farm gate Primary market Secondary market
Price (ETB)

8. Prices of eggs at different location


Location Farm gate Primary
market Secondary market
Price (ETB)

9. Prices chicken during different seasons of the year


Season Christian festivals Muslim
festivals New year
Price (ETB)
72

10. Prices eggs during different seasons of the year


Season Christian festivals Muslim
festivals New year
Price (ETB)

11. Determinant factors that affect (control) prices of chicken and eggs
11.1 Factors affecting price of eggs
A. supply and demand
B. religious festivals
C. holidays and fasting seasons
11.2 Factors affecting price of chickens
A. seasonal demand (holidays and fasting seasons)
B. lack of information
C. plumage colour
D. size (body weight)
E. age
F. sex
G. market site
H. health status of the bird
12. Marketing constraints
A. price fluctuation
B. demand seasonality
C. long distance of reliable market /lack of market access/
D. lack of information
E. disease outbreak
F. involvement of middlemen
73

III. Laboratory Egg Quality Result Recording Format

Egg quality traits Agro-ecology


Highland Midland Lowland
Egg weight (g)
Shell thickness (mm)
Thick albumin height (mm)
Yolk height (mm)
Albumin weight (g)
Yolk weight (g)
Shell weight (g)
Yolk diameter (cm)
Yolk colour
Haugh Unit

Egg quality traits Marketplace


Kersa Lange Woter
Egg weight (g)
Shell thickness (mm)
Thick albumin height (mm)
Yolk height (mm)
Albumin weight (g)
Yolk weight (g)
Shell weight (g)
Yolk diameter (cm)
Yolk colour
Haugh Unit
74

IV. Laboratory Egg Quality Examination Result Recording Format

Agro-ecology/Marketplace Date

Egg quality traits Egg Sample


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Egg weight (g)
Shell thickness (mm)
Thick albumin height (mm)
Yolk height (mm)
Albumin weight (g)
Yolk weight (g)
Shell weight (g)
Yolk diameter
Yolk colour
Haugh Unit
75

Annex 2. ANOVA Tables


Appendix Table 1. Summary of ANOVA for productive performance in different agro
ecologies

Parameter Df MS F Pr>F Sl
Age at first lay 16.8 0.12 0.71 Ns
month 3.6 0.42 0.80 Ns
Clutches per year 8.3 0.03 0.44 Ns
Clutch length days 7.3 0.31 0.37 Ns
Eggs hens clutch 9.1 1.51 0.62 *
Eggs hen year 5.0 1.01 0.31 *
hatchability 1.8 1.08 1.23 Ns
Chick mortality 7.5 1.52 2.61 Ns

Appendix Table 2. Summary of ANOVA for egg quality traits in different agro ecologies

Parameter Df MS F Pr>F Sl
Egg weight 598 31.2 4.2 0.08 *
Shell thickness 598 0.70 2.8 0.06 *
Albumin height 598 59.4 6.5 0.01 *
Yolk height 598 38.5 1.9 0.13 *
Albumin weight 598 10.6 1.1 0.00 *
Yolk weight 598 60.5 1.0 0.00 *
Shell weight 598 3.1 0.6 0.01 *
Yolk diameter 598 1.3 1.8 0.00 *
Yolk color 598 4.4 0.7 0.01 *
Haugh unit 598 30.7 5.7 0.01 *

Appendix Table 3. Summary of ANOVA for egg quality traits in different markets

Parameter Df MS F Pr>F Sl
Egg weight 118 9.8 0.31 0.69 ns
Shell thickness 118 0.4 0.12 0.30 ns
Albumin height 118 0.3 0.53 0.59 ns
Yolk height 118 3.3 0.31 0.37 ns
Albumin weight 118 6.9 0.51 0.62 ns
Yolk weight 118 5.0 0.51 0.61 ns
Shell weight 118 0.1 0.21 0.78 ns
Yolk diameter 118 1.5 1.52 0.21 ns
Yolk color 118 1.2 0.24 0.81 ns
Haugh unit 118 53 0.60 0.91 ns
76

Annex 3. Figures
Appendix Figure 1. Scavenging poultry production system in Kersa district

Appendix Figure 2. Mode of transporting chickens to market places in Kersa district


77

Appendix Figure 3. Marketing of poultry in open market of Kersa town

Appendix Figure 4. Marketing of eggs in Kersa district


78

Appendix Figure 5. Measurement of egg shell thickness in the Laboratory

Appendix Figure 6. Measurement of egg yolk color in the Laboratory