Baby Chicks Production And Poultry Industry In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Baby Chicks Production And Poultry Industry In Nigeria

Posted: Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ikem Adimorah, an Agricultural consultant, makes a case for a formidable regulatory framework for poultry farmers in the area of quality of hatcheries.

 A poultry form’s hatchery

A poultry form’s hatchery

In his inaugural speech, President Mahammadu Buhari decried the level of unemployment in Nigeria especially among the youths. A situation he likened to ‘sitting on gun powder’. On that auspicious occasion, he promised that his agricultural policies will be used to create jobs for the unemployed. The live-stock subsector of the economy being a critical sector in providing jobs and the needed protein component of our daily diet especially in children should be one of the major priorities in achieving these desired goals.

The live-stock subsector especially poultry has done very well in all parts of the country and it has the capacity to create significant number of jobs in a very short time with attendant value chain additions in jobs and rural-urban migration checks. Efforts by successive governments seemed to have failed in these regards as appreciable growth has not been witnessed in the industry over the years. This is evident considering the continued importation of poultry products into the country even after it has been banned severally. Industrial experts believe that the continuing importation of poultry products must be indicative of the short fall in the local production against local demand. It is also regrettable that the consumption of these imported poultry products has not abated over the years despite the campaign carried out against it due to the health consequences associated with its consumption. Stakeholders in the industry are convinced that the gap between local production and demand may be attributable to the high morbidity and mortality rates being experienced by poultry farmers. These high rates emanate from such factors as:-

Poor hatchery management skills/regulations.

Lack of adequate poultry management skills.

High cost of production.

Difficult marketing environment.

The computer Maxim, ‘Garbage-in, Garbage-out’ is succinctly applicable in poultry. Successful venture in poultry among other things starts with pathogen free baby chicks. This is evidently not in existence in Nigeria. Today day old chicks are hardly started or settled without the introduction of one form of antibiotics or the other, if one is desirous of achieving significant success in poultry keeping. Diseases like Salmonellosis, Omphallitis, Aspergillosis, Coccidiosis are some of the diseases farmers have to contend with right from day one of arrival of chicks from the hatcheries straddle legs have also become very common which are as a result of fluctuations in temperature and humidity during the incubation of the hatch-able eggs. This can wreck a farm.

Baby chicks laden with antibiotics resistant strains of disease causing bacteria organism are very common. Others have low or no latent or passive immunity to protect them before vaccinations are carried out. All these are pointers to the fact that many of the hatcheries are involved in sharp practices or unprofessional activities that will eventually lead to heavy lose to the farmer at the end of the day. Viral diseases like Avian Lucosis and Mareck’s disease have wrecked a number of poultry farms leading to closure and bad debts to banks and other creditors. Such situations would have been avoided had the chicks been properly vaccinated at the hatcheries before the farmer collects them. Consequently, poultry farming is almost being synonymous with financial loss and many banks and financial institutions are finding it very difficult to render their services to poultry farmers. Today, poultry farming has seemed unattractive to investors as needed funds for support from financial institutions are no longer available considering that poultry farming is capital intensive at commercial level.

It is therefore very necessary that a comprehensive policy frame-work be put in place for production of healthy and viable day old chicks by the authorities concerned, to enforce standards and regulations in the industry. Hatchery business is a highly technical field that requires close monitoring and enforcement of standards, which if not so supervised can lead to a lot of financial and health consequences to investors and the general public. For instance, Zoonotic diseases like bird flu and antibiotic resistance are prevailing. A situation where charlatans and gold-diggers are allowed a field day in a highly technical area like hatcheries calls for great concern. Some quantities of day old chicks that poultry farmers get today are produced by backyard hatcheries that have found themselves around the major players and are now producing unhealthy chicks and selling to the unsuspecting public. Some of them even go to the extent of printing cartons of the popular brands to package their fake and unhealthy chicks. They act as agents of the popular brands to convince their unsuspecting customers who usually travel from all parts of Nigeria at particular day of the week, usually Mondays and Thursdays to collect these baby chicks.

The activities of these quacks are also buoyed by the existence of hatching facilities that collect “hatch-able eggs” from these unscrupulous individuals without ensuring that the eggs are produced by certified producers or those who play according to the rules. However, this situation has been ongoing for years and it seems no body is interested in checking the excesses of these quacks in the hatchery industry. Nigeria and Nigerians are paying for this neglect in terms of financial lose health and Job opportunities. The new government should urgently look into this and save poultry farmers from the activities of these clogs in the will of our poultry progress.