Village Chicken, Broiler Chicken
Learning to Raise Chickens in Zambia
Backyard Poultry editor Marissa Ames and her husband travel annually to Zambia, to work with a nonprofit focusing on education and uplifting the community. The I Am Zambia academy teaches career skills to vulnerable young women. Marissa arrived in January 2019 with a twofold focus: to teach aspects of online media to the girls and to explore different agricultural avenues available to Zambian farmers. The trip resulted in a working relationship with Mr. David Daka, who heads up the educational focus of Livestock Services in Lusaka. Mr. Daka organized classes for the students, taught by veterinarian Singole Arnold, about how to start goat-keeping and a broiler chicken business.
After Dr. Singole Arnold finished a presentation detailing feed, care, and vaccination of broiler chickens from chick to sale, the girls drove to the house of student S’busiso Phiri, whose family raises broilers as income. S’busiso described how her family cares for the chickens and keeps them safe. The students then traveled to the Garden Compound (neighborhood), to speak with Esther Tembo and Joyce Phiri, merchants who sold both broilers and layers. Esther and Joyce freely shared how they purchased the chickens from farmers then resold at the market. They then visited the residence of teacher Katoba Mushala’s mother, where they saw ducks and chickens kept in a residential coop.
Chicken is one of the most popular meats among Zambians, with some individuals raising a flock of broilers in a corner of their house until they build enough income to expand, using charcoal braziers for heat if they do not have electricity. While “village chickens” (heritage types) are popular in the countryside, broilers reign supreme within the city because they provide quick income. A broiler matures in six weeks and sells for about 50 kwacha ($5) on the market. A successful broiler operation involves purchasing the chicks, feed, and vaccinations, and finding sales outlets for whichever birds the families do not wish to consume.
After the students returned from their field trip, they collaborated to record what they had learned. These are their reports. (Much of the spelling and language has been preserved to represent the regional dialect.)
S’busiso and Catherine’s Report:
Chickens are birds that exist in different types and are grown for different purposes. In January 2019, as students of I Am Zambia Academy, we took a field trip to Garden market to learn more about how different types of chickens are reared and sold. We interacted with the farmers at the market and below are the results of our research.
Broilers are chickens grown and sold for consumption. They are produced in a hatchery. It takes six weeks to grow broilers until the point of sale. For the first two weeks, they feed on Starter feed; this makes their bones strong. For the next two weeks, they feed on Grower feed which has a high starch concentration to enhance their growth. The chickens feed on Finisher feed during the last two weeks. Different vaccines are added to the chickens’ drinking water to prevent diseases such as Gumboro and Newcastle. After the sixth week the chickens are ready for sale.
NOTE: According to my knowledge, broilers are prone to various diseases. They grow healthy in a clean environment with proper ventilation. Their drinking water should be changed every three hours to keep it fresh. They should be kept in a warm environment. This is done by placing infrared bulbs (or a brazier) in their coop.
These are grown specifically for egg production. They are also produced in a hatchery. They lay eggs for eighteen months. If kept for longer, their egg production reduces and therefore, they must be sold and the farmer has to order new stock.
Village chickens are grown mainly for consumption. They produce their offspring when the male and female chicken mate. The hen lays eggs that are kept for 21 days before they hatch. The eggs hatch into chicks. Village chickens take six months to grow. They usually feed on insects found on the ground, maize corn, and different cereals. Village chickens are easy to keep and more resistant to diseases. But they also suffer from diseases such as cholera and coccidiosis, which can be cured or prevented by vaccinating the chickens.
Our trip was very educative. We got to interact with the farmers who shared with us their experience of rearing chickens. They told us how they manage their chicken business and use it as a source of income for their families. We were motivated to start up a business of our own.
By S’busiso Phiri and Catherine Moyo
Grace, Mercy, and Chishimba’s Report
We had an educational tour at Showgrounds and at Garden market in January 2019, as students at I Am Zambia Academy, and here are the results from our knowledge and what we were told about how to raise chickens.
How to raise broiler chickens:
- provide room to grow.
- chicks need a dry, clean, and litter–free location large enough to accommodate their fast–growing bodies.
- minimize drafts, get the right bedding, keep the brooder house warm, regulate brooders house temperature.
- provide water.
- monitor feeding.
- provide transition.
They are fed two times a day, and they put a strip to a bucket so that they can be able to eat well. Broiler chickens eat about one kilogram (1 kg) of starter, 1.5kg of grower, and 1.5 kg of finisher feed to reach marketing weight. When raised badly, they end up getting disease, especially in winter seasons like June and July. Broilers are cheaper than village chicken.
Broilers chickens are specially bred for fast growth and slaughtered when they weigh approximately four pounds, usually between seven and nine weeks of age. Broilers take about six to eight weeks to be sold or eaten.
How to raise village chickens:
Generally speaking, village chickens are said to be adults when they reach the point of sexual maturity and begin laying eggs. This typically occurs when the chickens are between 16 and 24 weeks of age, depending on the breed, but even some individuals with a breed will develop more quickly or slowly than others housing village chickens. At night, protect them from rains and the cold, from predators, and from thefts. Also, housed birds are easier to catch to inspect for signs of illness or injury or to vaccinate them. Village chickens can feed themselves, and they take about six months to mature.
Chickens can be kept in town or village and are really tasty when raised healthy.
Honestly, we were inspired by what we found out about chickens, how to feed, raise and keep them.
Research done by Grace A.Nuhu, Mercy Nkausu, and Chishimba Mutale.
For more information, visit iamzambia.org or I Am Zambia’s Facebook page.