Demonstration of Commercial Layer Chicken “Bovans Brown” Technology Packages for Smallholder Poultry Producers in Eastern Amhara, Ethiopia

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The study was demonstrate the Bovans Brown breed technology package; study the perception of poultry producers and evaluates productivity of Bovans Brown (BB) poultry breed and income generation under village production system in Dessie district, South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia. From the district 3 kebeles and a total of 10 smallholder participants’ were purposively selected and 1000 day old Chicks were distributed. Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was done to rank breed preference, occurrence of diseases and management practices in Dessie town, 2015 and Ms excel and analysis of variance the general linear model procedure of SAS (2002) was used for calculation of means and proportion. The participatory methods used were simple ranking, matrix scoring and proportional piling. The result of matrix scoring and ranking showed that Bovan brown, Lohnmann white and koekoek were the first, second and the third selected breeds by the community, respectively. In addition to this, participants prioritize that Diseases (40%), Absence of vaccination (30%), Market Problem (20%), Absence of productive breed (6.7%) and feed quality problem (3.3%) were the major constraints for poultry production. Newcastle diseases (fenigil), fowl pox (fenitata), cholera (tekimat) and external parasite (kinkin) were the major health problems listed by participants. Participants also forwarded the ways for controlling the occurrence of the diseases and management practices that have been practice by them. Information was obtained on average eggs production per year and age at first laying was 189.2±82.6 eggs and 171 days respectively. Bovans Brown (BB) recorded 94% survival rate and 6% mortality rate until 16 weeks of age.  Poultry producers participate in this research generates on average 5,231.92 Eth birr net profit during one year production period poultry production as aside business. Bovans brown poultry breed was currently an ideal layer for urban and prie urban areas of Dessie and similar agro ecological and poultry production potential areas.

Key words: Bovans Brown, Dessie, Productivity, Farmers perception, Management practice.



Animal production in general and chickens, in particular, play important socioeconomic roles for many poor rural households in developing countries (Alders, 2004; Salam, 2005). In sub Saharan Africa, 85% of the rural population keep chicken; and support the provision of affordable animal protein and household cash income (Ambali, 2007 and Aklilu et al. 2007). Besides, chicken production in the urban peri-urban areas contributes to employment opportunity for the youth, elders, women and sick (Axumite, 1994 cited in Dereje, 2011).

In spite of their great importance to the lives of most rural people, the contribution of village chicken is not proportion to its huge number. The low productivity of local breeds; prevalence of diseases; less availability and poor quality of feeds; limited research and poor extension service; and lack of organized marketing and processing facilities are some of the most important constraints affecting the village chicken production system (Singh, 1990).

According to CSA (2010) report, the total chicken population of Ethiopia is estimated to be 42 million. About 98% of the total population is consists of indigenous chicken. Most of the chickens are kept in the village production system where the aforementioned factors are the major constraint to maximize the benefit from the sector (Mebratu, 1997; Tadelle, 1996). With this effect, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD) of Ethiopia and several other institutions including research, higher learning institutions and NGOs have been attempting to improve village poultry production systems (Alemu and Tadelle 1997).

The strategy to improve production and productivity of the country's poultry sector was through introduction of exotic breeds and fertile eggs. Distribution of a day-old and 3 months old improved chicken breeds, mainly RIR & WLH, has been one of the livestock extension packages implemented by the ministry of agriculture. The package is being implemented in many ways like; 5 pullets & 1 cockerel, 1 cock only, 15 pullets & 2 cocks and 50 day-old chicks. Despite the fact that, the majority of the chicken population is still comprised of the local stock managed under the traditional production system. The contribution of improved chicken in the current production system is less than two percent (Mebratu, 1997).

A recent study on adoption of poultry breeds in the highlands of Ethiopia indicated that adoption has been limited by a set of factors such as, lack of strong extension follow up and complimentary inputs, diseases, unavailability of credit services and market problems. Besides, the numbers of breeds and birds included in the package were few (Hailemariam et al. 2006). This results to a huge gap between demand and supply of poultry products. According to Alemu and Tadelle (1997), the per capita egg and chicken meat consumption was estimated to be 57 eggs and 2.85 kilogram respectively. But in the current time, it is less than one egg and a kilogram of chicken meat, which is very much less than a global average (153 eggs) (Smith and Wiseman, 2007).

A recent study by Nigussie et al, (2006), witnessed the significance of enhancing institutional links to transform the ever existing traditional piece meal approach of poultry technology transfer into promotion of carefully selected and packaged technologies. Farmers involved in 100 day old commercial layer chicken package came up with fascinating attitudinal change by recalling back that they were reluctant on the success of the project. Besides, at five months of egg production on the average each farmer earns 2372.5 birr net cash income from the sale of egg.  

Therefore, to tackle the ever existing problem, different approaches of improved poultry technology packages dissemination should be followed on the basis of social, economic and physical environments under which the production takes place.


2. General Objective         

The overall objective of the study was to introduce a small scale commercial poultry production packages for urban and prie urban area.


2.1 Specific Objectives            

  • To promote and disseminate suitable full-fledged poultry technology packages.
  • To aware the contribution of poultry technologies for household income and food security.
  • To study the perception of participants on improved poultry packages.


3. Material and methods

3.1 Description and Selection of the Study Area

This study was carried out at Dessie town, Ethiopia, located in the South Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region, it sits at a latitude and longitude of 11°8′N 39°38′E, with an elevation between 2,470 and 2,550 meters above sea level.

The study area was selected purposely based on agro-climatic conditions (high land), availability of services and inputs, socio-economic significance of the package, accessibility and representativeness. Three representative kebele was purposively selected from urban and peri urban areas.


3.2 Participant Household Selection and training

Researchers from Sirinka and Deber Ziet Agricultural Research Centres and experts from Dessie town agricultural office were participants in households’ selection. Households’ were selected purposely on the basis of willingness to construct poultry house; to cover all the associated package costs and record the required data. Training was given for the participants on poultry house & housing, health, feeds & feeding and data recording.

Fig1. Participants during training time in Dessie town.


3.3 Poultry breed used for the study

Poultry breed namely Bovans brown (layer) final hybrids were used in this study. Bovans Brown is a brown feathered, brown egg layer which has the ability to meet the expectations of a variety of egg producers with different objectives.


3.4 Management of birds

For this study, 1000 day old Bovans brown chicks with 50 reserves were distributed for 10 participants’ 105 chicks for each participant transported from Deber Ziet Agricultural Research Center. The birds were housed in closed, wooden house filled with teff straw at 5 - 7 hens per square meter. For brooding purpose, participants used heat source from electricity with 250 watt infra red lamp. After 8 weeks of age the birds were exposed to natural daylight of approximately 12 h day-1.

Amprolium powder 20% (12 g per 20 Liter), were given for 5  days through drinking water to the birds as a preventive and treatment against coccidiosis disease.  Oxytetracycline powder 20% was also given through tap water starting from day 2 for 5 consecutive days prevented birds against disease and stress from transporting and new environmental conditions.

In addition to these medicaments, chicks supplemented with mineral and vitamin premix for the first 7 days of age. Lasota was vaccinated for the prevention of ND three times and Gumboro vaccinated for the prevention of Gumboro disease two times.


3.5   Study approach and tools

Production, cost, income and health data were collected using data sheet and interviewing the producer.

  • % Hen-day egg production = Number of eggs collected per day X 100

                                                            Number of hens present that day 

  • Number of egg production per year = Number of eggs collected per day X No. of days      they produce

Partial budget analysis was done to calculate economic data from different variable cost and income generated from different source. Field day was arranged to share experience and disseminate the technology package. Survival/Mortality rate was calculated for 16 weeks of chicks’ age.

Purposive sampling technique of study units was employed in April 2015 within the selected peasant association of the district. Focus group discussions (FGDs) were tools used in the survey to generate social data. The participants were used for this discussion was 10 households which were previously reared poultry, and were comprised of men, women and youngsters. It was made by delivering 30 counters (graves) as 100 on flip chart graves for each of the focus groups to enable them their answers on the given questions related to breed preference, perceptions of poultry diseases and management practices. The participatory appraisal methods used were simple ranking, proportional piling and matrix scoring.


Scheduling, Timing and Group discussion

Focus group discussion participants, agricultural experts and the community opinion leaders decided venues suitable for the interview. Daily work habits of the participants were put into consideration so that interviews were scheduled during holiday. Discussions were conducted in Amharic language that all participants understood without the need for an interpreter.

Group composition was made to include different community members by sex, age, skill, experience and social status for all participatory approaches done with groups. 10 chicken rearing participants in all site were used as focus group for the discussion. Average of 15-20 minutes was utilized for each interview and responses were adequately recorded.

Checklist: A checklist was designed, which comprised of open-ended questions related to breed preference, perceptions of poultry diseases and management practices.

Proportional Piling: Proportional piling (PP) was used to rank and prioritize major constraints in poultry production by numbers, and their relative importance in the communities. Participants were asked to list major constraints of poultry production in their locality. Circles were drawn on flip chart with each circle representing mentioned problems. Participants then allocated 30 counters (graves) as 100 (assuming that the list of problems made up (100%) to each circles in piles according to the relative problems with the highest score indicating the major production problem.

Matrix scoring and ranking: Matrix scoring was conducted to understand and point out the perception of poultry producers to exotic chicken breed preference. This involved a two-dimensional grid that was used to score items by at least two sets of categories settled criteria were placed on y axis and list of exotic chicken breeds which are introduced in Dessie town in x- axis. For this purpose, the selected community groups were made to select, rank and score on preference.


3.6 Statistical analysis               

Descriptive statistics such as mean, range and percentage of Ms-excel 2007 were used to summarize and present the results and egg production parameter were analyzed using the analysis of variance the general linear model procedure of SAS (2002). Standard deviation was also used to compute the variation of the mean from the results obtained.


4. Results and discussions              

4.1 Feed ingredient used during the study period             

For the first 30 days of chicks age participants used formulated ration from Diber Ziet Agricultural Research Center with free cost. After 30 days of age participants formulated chicks ration from feed ingredients mainly Maize (40%), Wheat grain (35%), Noug seed cake (10%) and Wheat bran and wheat short (10%) contributed from the total feed formulated. In addition to these participants sometimes add crashed bone, dried brewery by product, barley, salt and limestone used in small amount in the ration as protein and mineral source.


4.2 Egg Production performance          

Table 1. On farm egg production performance of Bovans brown poultry breed in Dessie town based on participants.



Table 2. On farm egg production performance of Bovans brown poultry breed in Dessie town based on production month.


In this study, the annual average egg production of Bovans brown managed under semi intensive condition was 189.2±82.6 eggs/hen/year and the hen day egg production was 48.62 ± 24.5%.  Annual average egg production of Bovans brown in this study smaller than Isa and bovans brown reported by Desalew T. et al. (2013).

The average age at sexual maturity of Bovans brown chicken obtained in this study was 171±12.18 days. These results were observed that longer age at sexual maturity than Bovans brown reported by Desalew et al. (2013). However, shorter than White Leghorn reported by Abraham L. and Yayneshet T. (2010). The longer sexual maturity obtained in this study may be due to the cold climate of the area and management difference by participants because this character is influenced by environmental factors such as temperature, nutrition, lighting intensity etc.


4.3 Survival rate of birds          

During the beginning of the study chicks were distributed for 10 participants; however, we used only 6 participants for the analysis the rest 4 were excluded from the analysis because they didn’t follow the package. Average survival rate of the bovans brown poultry breed in Dessie town was 94±8.65 in percentage or 6% mortality rate up to 16 weeks of age.

Table 3. Partial budget analysis.

Med=medicament cost, tran=transport cost, TVC= total variable cost and TNI=total net income.


We collected all participants cost and income from different source but easy of presentation we used average.  

Koekok, Bovan brown, Bovan white and Lohman white breeds were chicken breeds that had been listed by participant which had recently introduced improved poultry breed to Dessie town through the government extension services, research center and religious based organizations. Even if there are partly management factors, participants select Bovans brown breed was the best breed as compared to other improved chicken breeds by growth rate, number of eggs yield per day, yolk color, Age for first Egg lay and adaptability to the environment. Details of participants’ rankings are depicted in Table 4.

Table 4: Matrix scoring of chicken breeds preference kept in Desie town 


4.4 Major Constraints of chicken production in Dessie town

4.4.1 Major Constraints of chicken production before intervention.        

Before intervention we were done focus group discussion (FGD) to discuss about major challenges of poultry production in the study area and listed in table 5.

Table 5: Ranking of major constraints in poultry production in Dessie town


4.4.2 Major Constraints of chicken production after intervention.

Results of focus group discussion indicates that diseases (40%), Absence of vaccination (30%), marketing problems of pullets for those who rearing chicks to sell pullets (20%), Unavailability of best breed in number (6.7%) and Problem in quality of feed (3.3%) were the major problems affecting chicken production in Desie town.  Participants expressed that disease as the first and most prioritized problems, because it was occurred as an outbreak in different season and cause a huge economic loss.

This idea similar with Tadelle et al (2013) in which Diseases (mainly Newcastle disease) and external parasites, predators (domestic cats, rats, and wild birds), poor management practices (housing, feeding and disease control), lack of proper institutional support (poor health service and vaccination schedules, supply of medicines and vaccines, and lack of credit), lack of capital to expand chicken production, shortage of feed, and marketing problems (seasonality of price, lack of market information and market linkages) as the major constraints facing village chicken production in Horro woreda and Ada’a woreda.

Participants express particular dissatisfaction in the health services, as their chickens are not vaccinated before or after disease outbreaks. Similar constraints have been mentioned elsewhere in the highlands of Ethiopia by Hailemichael (2007). In addition to these we introduce semi-intensive poultry production system. So, predator problem in the study area was minimized.

Table 6: Proportional piling of major constraints in poultry production after intervention.


4.5 Occurrence of disease in Dessie town

The major diseases include Newcastle disease (locally known as fengil), avian cholera (Tekimat), fowl mite (qinqin) and fowl pox (fentata) were the major diseases that occurred in Dessie town (indicated in Table 3). Participants on this study were not poor, and collectively they were able to name and provide accurate clinical signs for some of diseases and syndromes. This is contrary to previous reports (Sambo et al., 2014), where individually and collectively chicken farmers was unable to identify more than a small number of diseases.

Participants reported that Newcastle disease was the most frequently and economically important disease which cause mass death which was in agreement with the result of Tadelle et al, (2013). According to poultry producers in the PRA discussion group, there are outbreaks of NCD every year and the outbreak typically occurs during rainy season. Participants also forwarded that government and private based chicken suppliers are not providing either technical or any other support to exotic poultry production extensive mortality.

Table 7: Participants response regarding name of disease that occur in Dessie town


4.6 Participant Perception on purpose of chicken production, occurrence of diseases and risk management practices

Opinion of participants indicated that the main purpose of poultry production was mainly for source of income. In addition to this, unavailability of vaccination and introduction of new chickens following holiday were the main factors that for the occurrence and introduction of diseases. As indicated table 8, different bio-security measures were applied by chicken owners to minimize the occurrence of diseases. Participants were also dissatisfied by the condition that the availability of vaccines and follow up that has given by the government was below the expected one.

Table 8: Perception of Poultry owners on chicken production, disease occurrence and management practices in Dessie town


Participants concluded that Bovans brown breeds as best breed with their growth rate, number of eggs yield per day, yolk color, egg yield timing and adaptability to the environment as compared to other introduced exotic chicken breeds in Dessie town. A result of focus group discussion indicates that diseases, Absence of vaccination, marketing problems, Unavailability of best breed in number and Problem in quality of feed were the major problems affecting chicken production. Newcastle disease (locally known as fengil) was the major economically diseases which rose by participants.


5. Conclusions and recommendations

  • From the result of biological and social data Bovans brown poultry breed was currently an ideal layer for urban and peri urban areas of Dessie and similar agro-ecological and poultry production potential areas.
  • Diseases (40%), Absence of vaccination (30%), market linkage pullets for those who rearing chicks to sell pullets (20%), low accessible of best breed (6.7%) and Problem in quality of feed (3.3%) were the major problems affecting chicken production in Desie town.
  • Pre scale up of these poultry breeds should take with its full package for urban and peri urban areas of Dessie and similar agro-ecological and poultry production potential areas.



I acknowledge that EIAR and ARARI for financial and technical support and our caulicles who were in my side during our work.



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