Poultry Industry in Nigeria and Climate Change Implications

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The poultry industry is one of the most viable and popular agricultural business industries in Nigeria. The industry has been pitched on a solid ground such that it has become a means of livelihood in the rural and urban communities in the country. Presently, Nigeria poultry industry is valued at about 8 billion USD and is the most industrialized segment in the Nigeria livestock industry. The industry directly and indirectly employs about 25 million people. The industry plays a key role in the preservation of animal food security in Nigeria. Hence, any factor that affects the industry negatively is taken as a serious one due to its impact on the economic value and sustainability of humans in the country. A vivid example was the crisis of Avian Influenza which rocked the industry in 20015 and caused the loss of over 3 million birds nationwide. Efforts to mitigate the effect of the endemic virus was put in place, though not thoroughly implemented but still effective to a certain extent in reducing the endemicity of the virus. In this view, it is therefore of great importance to mitigate other factors such as climate change, which as at today, is a key threat to the industry’s sustainability.



The under listed activities of poultry production do contribute to the global climatic changes:

  • Manure disposal
  • Disposal of Mortalities
  • Ammonia Release and Methane, CH 4, Produced by Microbial activities
  • Nitrous Oxide Biomass and from Nitrogenous fertilizers e.g. organic manures
  • Shallow river contamination



Our experiences in the West Africa sub region on the effect of climate change on Animal protein food security have become a major concern in the poultry industry of the region. Our recent interrupted rainfall pattern and long dry spell have affected the quality and storage of feed raw materials with subsequent contamination of cereals and oil seeds with mycotoxins. Every experienced poultry farmer recognizes the direct implications of climatic changes on poultry operations of the Tropical climate manifesting as:

  • Heat and/ Heat Stress
  • Rainfall and flood
  • Wind storm
  • Topographical problems e.g. soil erosion
  • Water quality and contamination
  • Repeated outbreaks
  • Housing defects
  • Mycotoxins, immune depression and resistance development.
  • Vaccination failures
  • High rearing mortalities
  • Droughts
  • Crop failures
  • Heat stroke
  • Low yield or productivity
  • High feed cost
  • Low workers’ productivity

Poultry Industry of the Tropics experienced these serious negative impacts from Global climatic changes. They showed negatively on various sub sets of the industry as itemized below:

  • Infrastructural problems and defects
  • Poultry Health problems and complications
  • Emergence of new diseases
  • Nutritional problems and complications
  • Production/management disequilibrium
  • Safe water problems for birds and handlers
  • Bio-security
  • Fixed and operational cost disequilibrium
  • Man power and turnover rate
  • Profitability projections
  • Sustainability problems

However the emphasis of this study will be on Health, Nutrition and Production management.




i) On Incubation and Hatching of Day old chicks

The effect of climatic changes on hatchery operations will manifest from a generalized rise in temperatures and humidity which may provide a good medium for fungal and bacteria growth, high temperature will encourage more evaporation to the air and thus encourage the buildup of microbes.

Data on monitored hatcheries production in tropical West Africa showed that weather fluctuations manifesting as high temperature, interrupted rainfall and high humidity have impact on chicks’ hatchability.

Some results in West Africa reflected on reduction in hatchability in the range of 3%-5% over short period monitoring in the last 2 years, with chick output showing ruffled feathers and high rate of unhealed navel.


ii) Effect on chick rearing

The after effect on brooding may show up in the first week as high mortality syndrome illustrated by graphical representation below. The last few years had witnessed excessive ambient Temperature in poultry houses in Nigeria, where daily mean temperature had fluctuated within the range of 45 degree centigrade in the extreme northern border to 35 degree centigrade in the far southern part of Nigeria. Variation in daily temperature average about 5 degree centigrade in the South and 8 degree centigrade in the Northern part of Nigeria.

By April 2016, in the southern regions of Nigeria, rainfall was not yet steady and crop farmers could not be sure of making accurate decisions as to when to plant seeds for upcoming harvest needed for humans and livestock consumption.

In September/October, rainfall pattern showed high degree of precipitation with accompanied storms and flood characteristic of climatic changes.

The graph below gives a clear description of this pattern of recurrent bacterial infections in many poultry farms in Nigeria



iii) Diseases pattern and resistance problems

The impact of climate change on the disease pattern and re-emergence of Poultry diseases has been confirmed by a majority of OIE Member Countries and Territories in a worldwide study conducted by OIE among all its national Delegates.

The appearances of Avian Influenza in 2006 2008 and 2015 and their devastating economic impact on the Industry have its genesis on wild bird’s migration as a result of weather changes and ecological distress.

“More and more countries are reporting that climate change has been responsible for at least one emerging or re-emerging disease occurring on their territory. This is a reality we cannot ignore and we must help Veterinary Services throughout the world to equip themselves with systems that comply with international standards of good governance so as to deal with this problem,” (explained Dr Bernard Vallat, DG of the OIE)


iii) On Production practices

Case study on the effect of climatic changes on Therapy and Resistance development in Nigeria poultry production are presented below:

This study confirms the high level and the broad spectrum Resistances of these common Bacteria to available antibiotics of which the etiology has close relationship with Mycotoxins contamination of feed. The implications of this are the high cost of treating Bacteria diseases in Nigeria resulting from high incidences of cyclical infections that are caused by the complexity of water and mycotoxins contamination of poultry feed and raw materials.


iv) Mycotoxin effects

A recent UNDP report showed that short and long-term variations in climate will continue to determine and affect agricultural produce, livestock, and fish production. One major effect is the level of crop yield, storage and heavy contamination with mycotoxins such as Aflatoxin B1, DON, T2tox, FB1, OTA and ZEA.

The level of Mycotoxins damage to poultry health and immunity is of serious magnitude which is less appreciated in the Tropics than in the developed world where the management of this risk factor is now been managed by nanotechnology, a science that deals with scientific manipulation of matter in its atomic structure.


v) On Nutrition

The case study below represents a recycling Bacteria infection with an underlining heavy Aflatoxin contamination of feed raw materials for a project in south western Nigeria


Adejoro et al 2007

Courtesy: Zartech Diagnostic Laboratory Research documents 2007.


For the purpose of this study, we shall focus more on “climate change effects, mycotoxins effects and adaptation and mitigation issues in the Nigeria Poultry Industry.



Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that exert toxic effects on animals and humans. The toxic effect of mycotoxins on animal and human health is referred to as mycotoxicosis. Severity of the toxic effect depends on the toxicity of the mycotoxin, the extent of exposure, age and nutritional status of the individual and possible synergistic effects of other chemicals to which the individual is exposed.



1. Mycotoxins are also products of secondary metabolism of molds. They are not essential to maintaining the life of the mold cell in a primary way.

2. Mycotoxins are nearly all cytotoxic. They disrupt various cellular structures such as membranes, and interfere with vital cellular processes such as protein, RNA and DNA synthesis.

3. They are toxic to the cells of higher plants and animals, including humans.

4. Mycotoxins vary in specificity and potency for their target cells, cell structures or cell processes by species and strain of the mold that produces them. 

In Nigeria, majority of poultry feed ingredient have been highly contaminated with mycotoxins.


Growth of fungi and mycotoxins formation is dependent on various factors which include season, location of grains cultivation, method of storage of grains, temperature, drought and time of harvest. The effect of mycotoxins contamination in grains, most especially is evident in;

  • Maize growers, who consistently suffer economic losses due to rejected and downgraded maize which eventually put them out of market.
  • Livestock industry, where mycotoxins cause depletion in animal health, leading to reduction in quality of animal food protein due to consequent diseases caused by the toxins.
  • Human health is also affected due to the presence of toxins beyond the maximum allowable limit which lead to various diseases such as cancers, chronic illnesses, long lasting impacts on the development of infants and children.


Beyond implications of food and health safety, increased mycotoxins contamination has taken a toll on the economy of countries in Africa, especially, their ability to export grains. In Africa, 670 million USD in trade is lost due to mycotoxins levels consistently exceeding the maximum levels of exporting countries as reported by African Union Commission in June 2016.



1. Aflatoxin: They are produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus under conditions of high humidity and temperature which is highly characteristic of South Western States in Nigeria. Aflatoxins can contaminate many food and feed stuffs including maize, peanuts and various spices. In poultry, aflatoxin B1 has induced liver tumours and has been associated with immunotoxicity, reduced weight gain and productivity, and lower egg production and eggshell quality. Aflatoxins are acutely toxic, immunosuppressive, teratogenic and carcinogenic compounds. The main target organ for toxicity and carcinogenicity is the liver.


2. Ochratoxin: Ochratoxins are secondary metabolites of Aspergillus ochraceus and Penicillium viridicatum, found on cereals, coffee and bread, as well as on all kinds of food commodities of animal origin in many countries. It causes reduced growth rate in broilers due to reduced consumption of feeds and reduced feed conversion ratio.


3. Fumonisins: Fumonisins, produced by the fungi Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium proliferatum, primarily contaminate maize, which is a very important component of poultry feed. Fumonisins B1 and B2 are of toxicological significance, while the others (B3, B4, A1 and A2) occur in very low concentrations and are less toxic. Fumonisin toxin causes "crazy horse disease", or leukoencephalomalcia, a liquefaction of the brain. Symptoms include blindness, head butting and pressing, constant circling and ataxia, followed by death. It is of significance in poultry as it causes reduced weight gain and productivity.


4. Zearalenone: Zearalenone (previously known as F-2) is produced mainly by Fusarium graminearum and related species, principally in wheat and maize but also in sorghum, barley and compounded feeds. Zearalenone and its derivatives produce estrogenic effects in poultry birds.


5. Deoxynivalenol (DON): It is also called ‘vomitoxin’. It belongs to the class of the trichothecenes and is produced by the fungi Fusarium graminearum and Fusarium culmorum. It causes effects ranging from gastrointestinal dysfunction (e.g. anorexia, vomiting, and nausea) to immunotoxicity and loss of productivity.



Climate change is the major cause of increased mycotoxins contamination worldwide. With the continuous trend of global warming, increasing temperature will continue to lead to the occurrence of mycotoxins contamination in foods of man and animals. Researches have shown that the major factors contributing to high concentrations of aflatoxins are high temperatures and drought stress. These two environmental factors directly impact maize and A. flavus. High temperatures and dry conditions favour growth, conidia formation, and dispersal of A. flavus and impair growth and development of maize. Such weather condition is experienced in Nigeria around February and March and it aids the large contamination of these raw materials of poultry feed by mycotoxins. Sétamou et al. (1997) observed that the highest fraction of aflatoxin producers were in the hotter regions of Africa. Several studies report that high soil temperature and drought stress are key environmental parameters that are positively correlated with aflatoxin contamination and increased incidence of aflatoxigenic strains or species. Warmer temperatures and greater extremes in precipitation (especially drought) are known to shift the balance in favour of increased aflatoxin levels.

Temperature, insect injury, drought stress, and water activity are the major factors that affect the risk of Fusarium infection and subsequent fumonisin contamination in Nigeria and Africa generally. In Nigeria today, these climatic scenarios are common in almost all the geopolitical zones of the country due to constant climate change. Conditions that favour fumonisin contamination of maize grain have been studied and the most important environmental influences on fumonisin risk are insect damage to grain and moisture stress in maize plants.

Temperatures in most maize-producing areas are within the range conducive for F. verticillioides growth and fumonisin production, but the risk is higher in warmer temperate of Nigeria. Specific information on temperature, water activity, relative humidity, and other environmental conditions required for different phases of the F. verticillioides life cycle, as well as fumonisin production has come from various laboratory studies in the United States. Some of these results were summarized by Maiorano et al. (2009). Sporulation, germination, and growth of F. verticillioides are optimised at 25-30 °C (Maiorano et al., 2009; Rossi et al., 2009). Most studies have found that optimal conditions for fumonisin production are a temperature close to 30 °C and high water activity (Marin et al., 1999; Reid et al., 1999). However, optimal conditions for fumonisin production by F. proliferatum appear to be significantly different, with a lower optimal temperature (Marin et al., 1999).



  • Global food security is undergoing obvious threat with escalating incidences of the impact of climatic changes on Agriculture and Animal food production.
  • This impact will be felt more in the tropics and third world countries that have obvious deficit in food production along with high poverty indices and illiteracy level of the communities
  • The consequences of climatic changes on health and declining production will need urgent intervention through a new technology that would expand and accelerate food production for the pro-poor communities of the world.
  • This technology will manage the challenges facing World Food security, arising from the impact of climate change.
  • Nanotechnology had improved efficiency of Toxin Binders by expanding their broad spectrum ness.
  • The technology is more friendly to the environment and for human food safety which makes it the choice of this millennium.
  • This technology is now a priority option in many developed economy and it is highly recommended for the management of poultry health and nutritional challenges arising from the prevailing Global climatic changes in Tropical poultry production.
  • Anewly created Livestock Foundation NGO www.lifango.org is poised to drive advogacy on the mitigation of climate change effect on poultry among other activities in Nigeria nand A frica
Begerano Albert
Animal Nutritionist
Re: Poultry Industry in Nigeria and Climate Change Implications
16/05/2017 | Thanks check again broiler average weight it can't be 21 gr
Stephen Adejoro Dr
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Re: Poultry Industry in Nigeria and Climate Change Implications
16/05/2017 |

Was weight of Broiler or pullet DOC mentioned in this article? surely No!

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