A FAO study showing that cattle fed on poultry waste increases milk production by at least 10 litres per day and help it attain a breeding weight of around 260 kilos by 18 months has inspired poultry waste business in Kenya, helping poultry farmers gain extra revenue from the waste normally used as fertilizer or dumped.
Poultry farmers making extra cash from the waste
One such farmer is Jane Kiiru in Thika who has been rearing broilers and layers for the past five years. The farmer who now has close to 900 birds explained that she collects 160-200 kg of poultry feed wastes and droppings a week which earns her extra Sh8000-10000 per week. Initially, she used to scatter some in her five acre farm and share with her neighbours for fertile. In late 2013, James Gateri, a local cattle farmer approached her for the waste and since then, she has managed to sell hundreds of kilos to other cattle farmers from the region and beyond. Kiiru sells 20kg bag of poultry waste for sh1000.
Ziwani Poultry, also a Thika based poultry farm is also minting extra cash from this fast growing business. According to its Director Harun Kimani, although they have been trading their poultry waste for some years to fish and crop farmers, they sell to livestock farmers is a huge bonus. On a good day, the farm which has more than 3000 birds collects at least 80 Kg of waste which it later sells to fish, Crop and dairy farmers in the locality at Sh800 per 20 kg bag making up to Sh3200 per day.
According to the study, the high nitrogen content in poultry waste can be utilized up to ten times more efficiently when recycled through ruminants as a feed since micro-organisms in the ruminants have the unique ability of utilizing uric acid and other forms of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) contained in the waste to make their own body protein which is subsequently digested in the lower gut for use by the host animal.
The rumen microbes also degrade cellulosic materials used as bedding contained in the waste. The latter also contains high levels of calcium and phosphorus and is also an important source of energy, yielding about 9.1 MJ per kg, which compares favorably with Lucerne hay. The waste often includes varying proportions of high quality spilled chicken feed which may contribute significantly to its feeding value. However, its real feeding value is attributable to the provision of NPN rather than energy.
In the study for instance, cross-bred heifers supplemented with a fermented 60:40 poultry layer waste were able to attain a breeding weight of 260 kg by 18 months of age. In the experiments, dry-matter intake and digestibility coefficients of poultry waste-based diets were comparable to commercial-type rations. Ensiling sorghum forage with layer waste making up 40 per cent of the ensiled material improved crude protein from 6.5per cent in untreated silage to 12.2 per cent in the treated silage. Steers that were supplemented with treated silage gained 0.87 kg/day and this was raised to approximately 1 kg/day when 1 kg of ground grain per day was fed in addition to treated silage.
How to process poultry waste into dairy feed
In order to use the waste as dairy feed, it must be thoroughly raked, removing any caked material and left to dry for at least three days. The material is subsequently milled through an 8-10 mm sieve to facilitate mixing with other feed ingredients. Poultry layer waste from deep litter houses does not however require milling. It is then subjected to a chemical known as fermentation where soluble sugars are hydrolyzed enzymatically by aerobic micro-organisms into acetic and lactic acids. Any pathogenic bacteria present in the waste are killed as a result of high temperatures and accumulation of these acids. In addition, these acids have a deodorizing effect on the waste which acquires a pleasant aroma, thereby enhancing palatability and voluntary dry-matter intake by the animal.
The amounts of poultry waste that can be fed would depend on plane of nutrition, production intensity and protein content of the waste. In general, the waste can supply 30-90 per cent of the total protein requirements for ruminants. The research however explained that such rations must be fortified with readily fermentable carbohydrate to supply the energy required by the rumen microorganisms to be able to handle the NPN more efficiently.
The FAO study warns that poultry waste can be harmful to animals when used in their feed because some material may be a potential source of harmful agents including pathogenic bacteria. This study come with bag of opportunities both to poultry farmers who sell the waste and dairy farmers who have since found alternative cheap dairy supplement hence slashing production costs.