By General Beven Mundida
Poultry products are an important source of income for many smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Many people like to dine on poultry meat and eggs as they are regarded as highly nutritious thus providing the much-needed markets for smallholder farmers. However, these farmers continue to suffer great losses feeding chickens lots that are denying them the much-needed income from the eggs due to low production. There are several factors that can result in low egg hatchability, some are discussed below;
Lack of or inadequate essential nutrients can also be a major cause of egg infertility. The farmer should always ensure that his chickens get enough nutrients from plants such as sunflower seeds and legume family plants; energy giving food such as maize, millet, sorghum; vitamin and mineral from vegetables, cabbage, and grass. Free-roaming chickens spend a lot of time and energy seeking food which hinders fast maturity. Make sure your indigenous poultry roaming diet is supplemented. Poor henhouse hygiene; regularly cleaning of fowl runs can help reduce the bacteria present in the poultry house affecting their health. A sick hen is an unproductive chicken that you will spend a lot of money on treatment. Decontaminating henhouse regularly will help you prevent diseases such as respiratory viruses, mites, and other poultry health problems especially in laying hens.
The ratio of hens to cocks; If the number of cocks serving the hen is less than the recommended one, then the farmer is likely to be denied good flock for the future. The farmer should make sure that there are eight to ten female chickens for one cock. If the number of female chickens exceeds eight then the cock will not be able to serve them well, which affects the fertility of some eggs that fail to hatch. The age of the cock may also affect fertility. A cock that is two years old needs to be culled because the quality of its semen deteriorates with age. Failure to cull unproductive hens; it is important to choose high-quality eggs to put in an incubator or to give the chickens to sit on for twenty-one days. Non-laying hens may be diseased if it is not due to biological defects. A laying hen has a large, moist, dilated vent as contrasted with a round, dry, puckered vent in the case of a hen not laying. Remove any bird which has a permanent genetic or injury-produced deformity or is underdeveloped. These can be sold for meat.
Article By General Beven Mundida (Livestock consultant)
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