Many rural women who are rearing local chickens as means of livelihood have said the business is impacting positively on their families. Experts say local or native fowls are self-sustaining; that is they can raise their own replacement stock.

A veterinarian, Mrs. Eunice Jonson, who grows local birds, said they fetched more money than exotic birds. Some of the rural women that are into the business are of the view that rearing of local or native fowl requires low maintenance which can be done at the corner of one’s home.

Erdoo Chia, who lives at Adeke village in Makurdi, Benue State, told our correspondent that she sold her native fowls in the village market easily. Chia said, “I use to have as many as 50 chickens, but now they are almost double in number. I let them loose most of the time to find food around the vicinity because things are hard now.” For Mama Onyebe, who rears chickens in her compound in an Otukpo village, local fowls play an important role in the livelihood of her family, just as they do for most rural families. Mama Onyebe explained that the cash investment required to keep her local breed which tolerated harsh conditions and diseases was less than that needed in other ventures. She said the native chickens could feed on cheap and locally available feeds, adding that they also required less supervision and other forms of care. She added that, “As a start, a farmer will need one cock for at most 10 or 12 hens, water and containers, housing space such as a cage or a space close to the kitchen and the shelter should be well ventilated.” The woman, who said she started her chicken business with 20 hens and three cocks, further informed that the cost of starting a chicken farm actually depended on one’s location. In her estimation, the land for chicken farming remains cheaper and readily available in the rural areas. Mrs. Oine Audu, another rural woman who rears local chickens in her compound, said her farm was started with less than N30,000 and 200 chicks. Mrs. Audu said, “Some people come to my house to buy the chickens when they grow up, while I take them for bulk sale at the Nkwo market most times. I sell the chickens to augment my husband’s pension. “We use the money derived from the sale of the chicken to feed and do other necessary things in the house. I often sell the matured native fowls at the cost of N1,500 or more for each.” Mrs. Ruth Ebine in Kuduru community near Bwari in the FCT, said with less than N10,000, one can start raising local fowls. Mrs. Ebine said, “I started with N8,500, and as at today, I have close to 120 fowls, which I sell every Bwari market day. “Let me tell you, sometimes at the Bwari market, I sell up to N10,000 fowls, which, in my own case, is enough to keep my family.’’   Experts list guiding steps A veterinarian, Mrs. Eunice Jonson, advised the women to buy birds of almost same age like two to three months. According to her, once one gets birds, they should vaccinate them against Newcastle disease and de-worm them. She warned women to avoid buying local fowls during the dry season because diseases, especially Newcastle, were more rampant then. Mrs. Alabi, who has been a local fowl farmer for over 10 years, advised farmers to always provide water as much as possible and supplement free range with other feeds like maize bran and concentrates. She said eggs could also be collected and taken to a hatchery instead of incubation by mother hens.

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