Poultry Veterinary Network (Kenya)
Poultry Vets Network (PVN) is a common interest group of Veterinary Surgeons in Kenya with interest in Poultry work. These are Veterinarians keen on improving poultry enterprise by using their learned and acquired skills to assist poultry keepers improve health and productivity of their flock. This network is ardent in collection and distribution of poultry information to end-user (poultry farmers). Linking Research to Development is our key mission by bridging the gap that exists which is Extension. Extension activities will be carried out by veterinarian members also referred to as Poultry Veterinary Volunteers.
In view of a rapidly increasing human population in Kenya, resulting in high demand for food and a decrease in land available for agriculture, food production and food security will remain as priorities in the agricultural sector. To satisfy this rising demand, future development in this sector will be focused in those enterprises that require less land such as poultry production and result in products that are readily acceptable to the consumers. Also, recent calls by the health technicians to limit consumption of red meat due to its likely exposure of people to risks of cancer, demand for white meat (poultry meat, fish etc.) is due to increase.
Poultry are those birds that render economic service to man and reproduce freely under his care. Exotic poultry constitute 30% of total national poultry populations. These are usually kept around urban and peri urban areas, a factor dictated by their proximity to the market. Exotic poultry is kept by the resource-rich or financially stable poultry keepers as it requires a fair to good educational foundation, high financial input and in return has readily high output. These keepers are in constant contact with the poultry breeders, feed manufacturers, drug manufacturers and other key players in the industry who are keen on training them and offering other on and off-farm extension to agribusiness services. To the advantage of these poultry keepers, most technocrats (technical persons) and resource suppliers (financial and farm inputs) are biased towards urban and peri urban areas due to availability of good infrastructure.
On the other hand, indigenous/ local/ household/ family poultry keepers account for 70% of the total national poultry populations. These poultry are kept in peri-urban (back yard) but majority are kept by the poor, resource and education challenged local communities. Free-range system is most common in rural areas as it is a least capital-intensive production system of low input, low output farming system. They keep an average flock size of 10-14 birds that consist of indigenous family birds. These birds are let free during the day and are only confined at night. Indigenous family birds are harder than exotic breeds on free-range system where little or no food is supplemented. They have a great foraging ability, high feed conversion efficiency, but small size and low production. The family poultry keepers tend to have a wrong belief that these birds are hardy to diseases (except Newcastle disease) and do not need extra attention. Technical experts to advise indigenous poultry keepers on how to improve health and production of these birds are lacking in the villages, with keepers left to employ their indigenous knowledge in disease control, a practice that has not recorded agreeable results. Poultry keepers’ knowledge on poultry disease diagnosis, treatment, prevention & control is wanting. Veterinary medicines are not readily available in villages. Major outbreak of viral diseases especially Newcastle often go un- or under-reported because of poor infrastructural and communication network and thus lasting solution are not arrived at. Another scenario common to rural poultry keepers is that, at the time of disease outbreaks, the families feasts on the sick birds to avert further losses, unaware of the dangers they are exposing themselves to since disease diagnosis has not been arrived at.
Poor housing exposing the birds to predation and ecto-parasitism is also a major impediment to this production system. Most families share housing with these birds oblivious of the dangers they expose themselves to.
Marketing of these birds is also a challenge. After several months of raising dwarfed birds, traders/ middle men exploit rural poultry keepers, robbing them off a fortune while they make big profits when they sell birds in urban areas. Indigenous birds are preferred because they have tasty meat and desirable egg quality, color and taste. Their products are also free from antibiotics, hormones and other harmful chemicals. These birds fetch more income than exotic ones.
Poultry health and production extension work has been solely left to animal production technicians who are limited in knowledge as far as poultry diseases concerns, the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of these diseases. On the other hand, majority of veterinary practitioners in Kenya are biased towards large animals and pets neglecting poultry engagements. This initiative is therefore necessary in order to mobilize veterinary surgeons to assist in poultry extension services and render their extensive savoir faire to assist poultry keepers and the poultry industry as a whole. This initiative is biased towards rural industry and is aimed at uplifting the financial and social status of rural dwellers by emphasizing the need for seriously engaging in poultry activities as a source of income, cheap protein and a source of employment.
- To gather poultry information, aimed at assisting poultry keepers to improve health and productivity of their birds (information collection).
- Participate in on and off-farm training of poultry keepers on poultry health and productivity (capacity building),
- Organize poultry related field events and activities that will engage poultry vets in treating and vaccination of flocks,
- On-farm visitations and consultations by veterinary volunteers on poultry health and productivity
- Research including disease diagnosis, necropsies, data collection on disease incidences and losses; and other experimental work
- Collaborate with institutions, veterinary pharma industry, feed manufacturers, humanitarian agencies, funding bodies and other stakeholders who are keen on improving poultry health and productivity to promote poultry activities.
- Information gathering (literature search, sharing and archiving) on poultry health and production
- Publication of resource materials that will assist poultry keepers in understanding the health and production of poultry
- Organizing and participating in field events and on-farm visits as part of training and monitoring of poultry health and production activities
- Organize and participate in campaigns aimed at poultry disease control
- Organize training forums for poultry vet volunteers, farmers and other stakeholders
- Participate in research activities on poultry health and productivity
- Liaise with willing partners in implementing poultry related projects
- Fundraising for poultry health and production activities
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming a new brainchild:
the Poultry Veterinarians Network!!