An indigenous poultry farmer, who lost five three-week old chicks to cold weather, has come up with a plastic cage that keeps the young birds warm starting from the fifth day of hatching without the mother.
James Opondo of Siaya County said improvements since 2013 have made the cage to be more than 90 per cent efficient in keeping 25 chicks warm for up to six weeks.
Opondo lost all the chicks after separating them from the mother, hoping to raise them in an ordinary traditional twigs and herbs cage.
Why warmth is key to chicks
He leant a lesson that the chicks needed five to six days with their mother for the basic warmth, which could have facilitated growth of feathers that are key in temperature regulation.
“In 2013, I wanted to move away from free-range by raising the chicks away from their mother. That could have allowed the mother to start laying eggs soon after brooding. The chicks were to have vigorous growth because of the commercial feeds I bought,” he said.
Although the cold wind blew off the hope of raising the chicks, he conceived another idea of raising indigenous chicks away from their mother.
Structure of cage
He started working on wood and plastic, which resulted in a structure raised by two feet above the ground.
The plastic prevents entry of cold breezes into the cage.
“There are two feeding troughs along the length three feet-front and the back. On both sides of the one foot width, there are two watering troughs. Since they are from the outside, feed and water contamination is rare,” he said.
The feed and water access holes also allow for free circulation of air into the cage. The closely fitted plastic sheets cover and maintain warmth inside.
Unlike the traditional cages, which are made out of young twigs and tough herbaceous plants, Opondo’s border keeps s off rain as well as strong and direct sunlight.
“Traditional cages are tedious to handle and keeping clean. They require one to transfer the chicks to another place to clean. The plastic brooder has a chamber where the faecal waste is collected before discarding,” he said.
Since 2014 he has sold more than 200 pieces to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The County Government of Siaya has sponsored Opondo to various innovation exhibitions in the above named states. In December, he is headed again to Uganda.
He is concentrating on selling the cages at Sh4,000, a price that is negotiable, while his wife is raising indigenous chicken.
Opondo can be reached on +254710190140