Kenya farms are home to thousands of chickens, which are a source of income and food production for many families. Naturally, eggs, together with other ingredients such as flour or potatoes, areย essential products in every household. Everyone has a basket full of eggs ready to make an omelet or a nice and hot dish of gnocchi with tomato sauce on top (if you find yourself craving a dish of those now, follow the recipe here:ย olivieri.ca/gnocchi-recipes/).

Newcastle disease
Vaccination against Newcastle disease

In the country, many farmers choose to rear varieties of indigenous chickens since they are believed to be healthier and also easier to maintain. However, an old-schooled view suggests that they are immune to many diseases and that is why many farmers choose not to vaccinate them. This is actually not the case and a mistake like this can lead a whole flock to death when theย appropriate measures are not taken.

These kinds of situations result not only in the death of many animals, but also in economic problems for the farm holders who depend on their production to make a living.

Indigenous chickens and Newcastle disease

Indigenous poultry farming is very popular among the families in Kakamega, Kenya. In most cases, this is an opportunity for farm holders to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods, provided they are in good health. But for a long time, this wasnโ€™t the case.

On the one hand, as mentioned before, many farmers believed the species were immune to many diseases. On the other hand, they chose to protect their immune system by feeding them herbal medicines.

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However, these practices were not sustained by any scientific studies and, had the farmer holders been aware of this, they wouldnโ€™t have lost so many flocks in such a short time.

Among the most common diseases, the Newcastle disease was the one that brought major consequences. This is a respiratory infection that can also present symptoms such as diarrhea. In any case, Newcastle disease has no cure and, depending on how the chicken that has it takes it, it can become fatal.

Nyapeta Youth Group and their contribution

One of the families whose chickens were affected by Newcastle disease was Justusโ€™ family. In an attempt to find a solution to this problem, he metย Nyapeta Youth Group.

NYG is a group based in the namelike village and they aim at finding better and more modern techniques on poultry keeping.

During his monthly meetings, they train farmers to rear quality flocks. Their approach is a practical one and they work along with the poultry farmers to educate them on healthier practices of production and maintenance of the flocks.

They make a strong emphasis on how important vaccination of the chickens is and they carry out demonstrations of the process, which is actually really simple. Only two drops on the eyes of the chicken or through their nostrils are enough. Another way to vaccinate the chicken is by mixing the drops in water. This might be the preferred choice for farmers who have a large number of chickens.

The group also helps spread information on, for example, fertilizers coming from chickens droppings and more and their contribution is a valuable one in places where families sometimes depend solely on their farming production.

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Farmers join the group to learn and make their crops and poultry thrive, but it is also a great space to keep spreading the love and passion the community shares for these kinds of practices.

Other ways to prevent the whole flock from getting Newcastle disease

As said before, Newcastle disease has no cure and the birds that catch it have to be killed and disposed off in order toย prevent the disease from spreading. As well as a proper vaccination campaign, farmers can also take other measures to avoid this infection to reach their animals:

  • It is advisable that farmers do not get in contact with animals whose health status is unknown or uncertain.
  • If you notice or doubt one of the chickens caught the disease, isolate it as soon as possible.
  • When an animal dies, make sure you dispose of it properly. Do not leave the animal to rest in the open-air.

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