Husbandry practices, disease management and production profiles among smallholder layer chicken farms in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania
Husbandry practices, disease management and production profiles were examined among 46 smallholder layer chicken farms in Morogoro, Tanzania; using a structured questionnaire and direct observations. Farmers kept their chickens in deep litter system or in cages. The average flock size was 350 birds (97-8000). Chickens were stocked at day old or at 12 to 14 weeks of age. For day old chickens farmers used antimicrobials in the first seven days, combined with multivitamins. Farmers vaccinated chickens against Newcastle disease, gumboro and fowlpox. Beak trimming was performed at 12 to 16 weeks. Most farms had a foot bath at the entrance to poultry houses. Chicken house cleaning was regular for cage system. Some farmers sent dead birds to veterinary centres for necropsy and others disposed or fed them to dogs. Some farmers used commercial feeds for their chickens whereas others made their own. The average age at point-of-lay was 20 weeks (16-22) and peak lay was attained two to three months later. Laying percentage varied greatly between flocks (55-90; mean 76); and fluctuated within flocks. Farmers attributed drop in egg production to diseases, feed quality, stresses and use of sulphur drugs. Viral, bacterial, parasitic and nutritional diseases were reported to be common in the flocks. The culling age was 18 to 24 months. The study revealed inadequacies in layer chicken husbandry and flock health management. Eventually the production was poor with irregularities. Improvements in husbandry and disease management would increase and sustain production.
Keywords: Bio-security, Husbandry practices, Layer chickens, Morogoro, Production profiles