General Poultry (Improved Kienyeji Chicken) Husbandry Terms you need to know – Part 1poultryadmin
As an improved kienyeji chicken farmer, it is crucial for you to know the terms of the trade. At different developmental stages, kienyeji chicken will have different names and needs. In part one of this series, we take you through the general terms used at all stages and at the egg stage, with some advice on what you should look out for.
- Air cell:the air space located on the broader end of an egg. This is where the egg breathes. To successfully hatch a chick, this end must always be kept free and when storing eggs, you must have the narrow end of the egg facing downwards. Farmers who are keeping layers are also advised to observe this storage procedure.
- Albumen:what is commonly referred to as the egg whites when cooked.
- Candling:This is a procedure commonly done using a torch or a candle to assess the internal characteristics of an egg. Eggs that have been fertilized tend to quickly develop red veins (blood vessels). To effectively see this, you need to go into a dark room.
- Breed:This word has two common references. The first refers to birds that reproduce their own likeness in their offspring i.e. every chick is expected to share some common characteristics. Think of the well known Angus cattle breed, prized by commercial beef farms because it is a huge, meaty animal. Chickens also have breeds. Some breeds are even scientifically improved to draw out certain characteristics e.g. a popular breed imported by many broiler farms into the country is Arbor Acres prized especially for its high meat yielding properties. Kuroiler and KARI Improved Kienyeji chicken are popular among chicken farmers in Kenya. Within breeds you have varieties. These are groups within a breed that will display common external features e.g. feather colours, comb shape and size etc. It is important to note that within a breed there can be many different varieties. The second way people commonly use this in Kenya is to mean rearing for example ‘I breed chicken for commercial use’. Here is an image of a few chicken breeds you’ve probably never seen: https://goo.gl/images/DnUa4B
- Broody:This is a natural instinct that causes hens to want to sit on and hatch eggs. Sometimes your chickens may do this and they don’t even have eggs to sit on but this is also a common phenomenon with ‘broodier’ chicken breeds. You may also see them plucking feathers around their chest area. Don’t panic! They do this to provide more warmth and humidity to their eggs. Farmers keeping layers will want to discourage this by taking the eggs away as soon as possible, checking the nest at least twice a day. This is because if left to brood, hens stop egg production. If keeping chickens for meat production, you need to note that during this time, they may tend to eat less and drink little water so removing eggs or putting troughs with water and food near the nests is encouraged depending on your method of rearing chicken.
- Cull:This is the removal of birds within your flock that are no longer productive or even sick. Farmers keeping layer chickens must ensure that when egg production dips, they do away with the lesser productive birds to maintain profitability.
- Feed conversion ratio:This is a performance measure looking at how much meat or eggs you are getting compared to your feed consumption. Why is this important? Feeds constitute 80-90% of the total cost of a poultry business! If you fail to manage it, you will not profit. You can improve this by lowering feed wastage or costs. You can also improve it by ensuring that you do not feed birds till they are past their approved market weight. Here is an excellent article by government-run NAFIS with more detail on how to optimize feed management: http://www.nafis.go.ke/livestock/poultry-chicken/general-information/feeds-and-feeding/
- Germicidal solution:This is a solution that is designed to kill germs. A very crucial one if you are confining your birds, is the foot bath. The solution is placed outside the door (may be in a basin) to disinfect the shoes of those entering the chicken house.
- Moult:This is when your chickens shed feathers. It is common to find feathers all over the chicken house and nest and the chickens just look unkempt. They also stop laying eggs. This is perfectly normal and is mainly caused by hormonal changes. Many farmers will begin feeding their birds with high protein feeds like sunflower seeds to provide them the boost they need to grow their feathers back and also start laying eggs again.
- Sexing:The act of dividing the flock into its component males and females. This is takes a great level of practice to develop and no method is fool proof. Here is what one farmer in Mwingi is using to help her determine sex even before hatching: http://www.nation.co.ke/business/seedsofgold/How-to-tell–if-eggs-will-hatch-into-male-or-female/2301238-2876454-keteicz/index.html
In Part Two, we cover the general kienyeji chicken terms related to the chick and adult stages.