Large scale meat chicken farmers are losing slightly over Ksh 153,000 per crop due to poor animal welfare practices on the farm and during transportation. This reduces their potential earnings by almost 20%.
A report launched today by World Animal Protection indicates that 6% of the birds die due to the birds being kept in poultry houses which are poorly ventilated with inadequate and often wet litter compounded with poor hygiene. The report estimates that for an average farmer having a flock of 22,000 birds this loss is equivalent to KShs 24,002 per crop.
Dr. Victor Yamo, the Animals in Farming Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection notes that “Such poultry houses predisposes the birds to respiratory diseases, bruises and injury of the breast and thigh muscles while brooding in such poorly ventilated houses using charcoal burners leads to further losses from water belly disease”
The study further revealed that poor handling when the birds are being caught and loaded to the crates to take them to the processing plants leads to bruises on the breasts, thighs and wings of the birds. In some instances, the birds even end up with broken legs and wings. The bruising and fractures can also occur during transportation if the road is uneven and the drivers don’t drive carefully. Birds with bruises and broken limbs are downgraded i.e. they don’t earn the premium price from the processors. The study estimates that averagely 0.77% of the farmers production in each crop was downgraded causing the farmer a loss of KShs 48,415.
Dr. Yamo further observes that “When birds are cramped together in a poorly ventilated vehicle they do not only end up with bruises and fractures but in some instances several birds suffocate leading to deaths”
The report estimates that approximately 1.18% of the birds arrive at the processing plant when already dead due to suffocation. Such birds are outrightly rejected by the processing plant leading to the farmer losing a further KShs 80,934 per crop.
“If poultry farmers ensured that the welfare of the chickens was adequately catered for on their farms and during transportation they would minimize such losses leading to the chickens having a life worth living and ensuring better returns to the farmer” He concludes.