Characterisation of physical egg qualities in indigenous chicken under free range system of production in Western Kenya
CC Wambui, EK Njoroge, CB Wasike
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The study was conducted with the aim of characterizing the indigenous chicken (IC) egg production system to determine management practices and how they impact on external egg qualities. Opportunity was taken to identify market channels available for IC eggs to small holder farmers at village level. A hundred farmers and ten indigenous chicken egg retailers were interviewed using questionnaires in Luanda south ward of Luanda subcounty, Vihiga County, Kenya. The survey indicated that most farmers engaging in IC production were women between 21 and 40 years old. Free range system of production was prevalent and characterized by low investment in housing where 65% of farmers did not house their birds and 99% left their birds to scavenge with minimal supplementation as the main mode of feeding. Additionally, 95% of the farmers did not separate different ages of their flock. Consequently, egg production and external egg quality was low as exhibited by the low number of eggs per clutch (10-15 eggs), weight 46.53g, length 5.47mm, width 4.05mm, shell weight 4.63g, % shell 10.09, and shell thickness 0.77mm. The % shape of 74.0 fell within 72 and 76 for normal oval shaped hen eggs. The IC egg market was easily accessible within the locality and fetched higher prices compared to commercial layer eggs. Indigenous chicken egg value chain has enormous market potential. Emphasis should be targeted towards improved housing and feeding management practices with the aim of up scaling production to exploit existing high demand.