The study was carried out by the Department of Dakoro in Niger, where the main characteristics of small-scale family poultry farms were described.
One hundred and forty seven farms were surveyed between November 2007 and February 2008 and 15 others were further added. In 78% of the farms, men were in charge of the poultry flocks. The main species raised were chickens (78%) and guinea fowls (18%). A representative flock had 43 hens and ten guinea fowls and would include a rooster, six hens and 35 young (two females and 22 guinea fowl keets). Millet grains and/or bran were used as feed materials by 99% of farmers for their poultry.
Chicks and guinea fowl keets received starter feeds based on local products in 78% and 76% of farms, respectively. In 138 farms, drinking water from wells and boreholes was distributed. Sexual maturity was reached at approximately 24 to 25 weeks of age for roosters and hens and 32 weeks for guinea fowls. Hens laid an average of 55 eggs (97 for guinea fowl) in 4.4 clutches of 12 each. Hatchability fluctuated between 81% and 93% and reported mortality rate was as high as 33%.
Rudimentary poultry houses based on stem grass were reported in 117 farms. One hundred and forty five farms had clay bell-shaped drinkers and recycled utensils were used as feeders in 120 farms.
Poultry veterinary products were used in 25% of the farms surveyed, along with human medicines (21%) and traditional pharmacopoeias (16%). The major causes of mortality were undiagnosed diseases (72%), poor housing (13%), predation (8%) and lack of feed (6%). Own consumption (46%) was the main destination for poultry products followed by sales (43%) and donations (11%).
Increasing awareness among farmers to aid in better management of their flocks and the promotion of the production and consumption of poultry products, characterization and better utilisation of available feed resources and more adequate housing were proposed to improve family-based poultry farming.
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